Sponsored post: This weekend the Caribbean’s oldest road running festival marks its 35th year

The tiny island of Barbados is a mere dot on most world maps, measuring only 21 miles long by 14 miles wide. Yet every year it attracts a wide range of visitors from all over the world, from the sun and sea seekers to Hollywood A-listers to the sports lovers who are drawn to its world-class sporting events.

This year the Caribbean’s oldest road running festival will celebrate its 35th year when it kicks off on December 1 at the Bay Street Esplanade overlooking the magnificent Carlisle Bay.

“Run Barbados” was created by locals back in 1983 and for the first few years consisted of just two races, the Bridgetown 10km and the marathon. Today, this exciting event has evolved into one of the premier sporting attractions on the island with five running races and a walk spread over three days.

Over the past three decades the Run Barbados Series has attracted a variety of runners of varying ages and abilities from recreational to world-class and hailing from all over the world. Runners such as John Treacy, Rob de Castella, Geoff Smith, Alberto Cova, Ron Hill, Hugh Jones, Catherine Ndereba and Jill Hunter have run through the island’s streets.

De Castella, the 1983 world marathon champion, won the first Run Barbados men’s 10km race. Jones, the 1982 London Marathon winner, won the Barbados Marathon six times between 1990 and 1996 and still holds the race record of 2:22:33 from 1991. Another Briton, Jill Hunter, still holds the 10km course record of 32:44 from the 1990s.

The choice of races around the world is endless but the Run Barbados event has distinguishing characteristics that can provide the experience of a lifetime. The event doesn’t offer the large pre-event expo or the generous goody bags associated with mega-marathons but the beauty of the island in conjunction with the small-time charm, laid-back atmosphere and friendly people attracts repeat visitors. The 2016 Run Barbados enjoyed over 2000 entries across the six events with runners flying in from countries like Canada, USA, France, Spain, Germany, Malaysia, Colombia, Venezuela, UK, Sweden and many Caribbean islands.

The three-day schedule allows runners to take part in several events and the event camaraderie epitomises the event slogan, coined by Alan Brookes in 2000 when he was race director in Barbados: “Come for the Run, Stay for the Fun!”

In 2017 Barbados is celebrating a year of sport which will culminate with the 35th edition of Run Barbados. A large turn-out of locals and foreigners is expected for this milestone in its history.

Together with title sponsor the Cave Shepherd group of companies, Run Barbados’s races include the Cave Shepherd Marathon, Fortress Half- Marathon, Colombian Emeralds Int’l 10K, Cave Shepherd Visa Credit Card 5K, Ganzee 5K Walk for Charity and the Signia Fun Mile.

» The Run Barbados events are on December 1-3. See runbarbados.org