Aruba is “One Happy Island” and I am one happy runner after conquering this destination on my quest to run the world. The tiny Caribbean island, which is an autonomous dependency of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, was the site of KLM Aruba Marathon, and made country # 38 for me on the road to my 50×50 goal after I completed the half-marathon portion of the event.
KLM Aruba Marathon saw approximately 2,000 people participating in several different events suitable for runners of all abilities from 5k to a full marathon.
Affectionately nicknamed “One Happy Marathon” in a play on the island’s slogan, Aruba Marathon is a fun run in the sun with views of the sea and some of the island’s most iconic sites.
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The race started and finished on the beach at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino, which was the epicenter of the event, hosting the race expo/packet pickup, pasta party and beach party. There was a staggered start time for the various distances, beginning at 3:30 am for the marathon, 5:30 for the half, 6:30 for the 10k and 8:30 for the 5k, took runners on a scenic course along the popular Palm and Eagle beaches and the famous California Lighthouse. With the exception of the mile or so stretch of road leading to the lighthouse, the course was pretty flat, and while the half-marathon, the event I participated in, began at 5:30 am while it was still dark, the sun rose soon thereafter and temperatures with it.
There were little to no spectators along the way, especially the first hour or so, which wasn’t surprising considering the race started at O’Dark Thirty – literally, but the other runners were quite jovial and supportive making it really feel like one happy marathon. Even with the early start, heat and humidity were a major factor, so the plentiful and well-placed hydration stations manned by cheerful volunteers were like an oasis in the desert and most welcomed.
After crossing the finish line, runners ran onto the beach for the party featuring the band “NFUZION, a live DJ and food and drinks. Also on offer were free massages courtesy of KLM.
Hot, humid, but undeniably happy, I would say overall, KLM Aruba Marathon is a winner. Aruba, with its white sand beaches, turquoise blue water, and striking landscapes, is an understated gem and a great destination.
Despite having a few kinks, which is not surprising considering the event is only in its 2nd year, the overall organization was good. The cotton t-shirt that was included in the price of the registration was a bust, in my opinion, and a better choice would have been the technical running shirt (which was available at an extra cost) or a visor/hat. The medal, however, gets my seal of approval.
I do love great bling!
How To Register
If you’re interested in participating in the KLM Aruba Marathon next year, the date is already set for June 7, 2020. Go to the KLM Aruba Marathon website to register for next year’s “one happy marathon”.
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