Information regarding the Marabana (Marathon in Havana) and Maracuba (3000m - 4000m race on the day before)

Information are based on first-hand experience in the races of Nov 2010 and 2011.

Background information: The Marabana is the Marathon in Cuba that is held every third Sunday in November. This year (2011), was the 25th Anniversary of the Race. The entire weekend is a celebration of sports and coincides with The National day of Physical Culture and Sports. The Maracuba is a 3000m - 4000m race on the Saturaday, held in the municipalities all over Cuba and attempts to involve children and adults alike to make them more aware of sports. Depending on where one is in Cuba, you may or may not see the Maracuba. The website for the Marabana: www.inder.cu/marabana/Actividades.html.  This website is current for the 2011 results; however, for the 2011 race planning it was very difficult to get a respone. Using the information found on www.havanatimes.org and also the on line journal cubaabolutely, some information was found.

How it works: You need to register between Wednesday and Saturday prior to the race (there is a website now, so try to register on-line, however, the site is not always working so plan to register in person pre-race day.  You cannot register on the day of the race).  Registration takes place across from the Capitolio (huge white building) on Paseo del Prado, a very wide street. It takes place at a Center called Kid Chocolate. It is not very visible, so look out for a lot of people wearing Addidas attire. Be there first thing in the morning, then  things go relatively quick (2010). Foreign runners need to pay 60 cuc (about $60) and this fee is for any of the races. Bring a copy of your passport. You receive a running number, marathon meal voucher and an Addidas t-shirt (really nice one), and a little white card which you must fill out such as age, country, race running and you MUST present on the morning of the race to the race director.There is chip timing for the 42 and the 21 races but for all others, it is stop watch and this little white card plays an important part in registering one's time.  The registration process is massively confusing, Went back three times, it took an entire afternoon before being completely registered.  There is no signage to assist with the process of registration. 
  • look for a table to pay money, get receipt
  • look for a table to give all of your tombstone information, age, country, type of race, show copy of Passport, get an Addidas bag of Tshirt, little white card, bib number with pins and race route map,
(luckily at the 2011 registration,  there was a young man, Frans, who walked  around the room with great capacity in English who assisted foreigners with the process)

Marathon meal: Around 12:00 on the Saturday you can get into buses in front of the Capitolio that take you to a baseball stadium where you receive a pasta meal. Not great and would not do it again, but it is awesome to experience the Cubans and talk to other runners about the race. (based on the 2010 experience)

Race day: The race starts in front of the Capitolio at 07:00. Your are asked to be there at 6:00. There is a nice vibe before the start. At the 2011 race, there was a wonderful opening ceremony, a choir, an Afro-Cuban tribal dance, live band and lots and lots of dancing, a great warm up activity.  The race starts quite smoothly. The run starts by going down Paseo del Prado to the Malecon, and then about 7km along the Malecon. In the 2011 run, enjoyed the experience of oberving the fun many Cubans were having as they started out, calling to each other, it had a party feeling.  Be prepared to have people stop in front of you as they take pictures! After leaving the Malecon you then turn left into the city and pass a number of the main sightings. Most people run the 21km since the marathon is the 21km circuit run twice. It is very humid, so you loose more water. Water points every 2-3km with water and juice sachets. The water does not taste very good so drink it with the juice. There is a few showers along the road where you can run through; however, they use sea water so the salt is going to dehydrate you more. In the 10k run, (2011 race) the showers were not visible. The sachets were not water this year, more a pedialyte mixture.  I would advise a water belt if you want to rely on a water supply.   You finish in front of the Capitolio, (for the 42 and 21 K) taken through a corridor in the Kid Chocolate center and given a medal and water. The 5, 10 and 15 K finish at designated sites.  You are provided a map in the kit, so give it a view prior to the race.  However, there are lots of race officials who will direct you were to stop.  A transtur bus will pick up all runners in the 5, 10 and 15 K race and take runners back to the Kid Chocolate Center. You are given a medal and pedialtye sachet.

Racing Attire  It was hot during the 2011 run and even it had been raining, would have been pleased with the minimal clothing.  The bib is requested to be on one's top and  not on one's shorts, so the question of running in a running bra for women is difficult; however, did see a couple.  There is the issue of Cuban's requesting one's running attire.  To make a suggestion, would recommend that the Marahabana organizing committee allow for a drop off spot for gently used running attire. Was asked for shoes.

Where you get out, lots of Cubans are waiting to ask for your shoes and other running attire. They actually do it all over the weekend.(2010)

Tips: Stay in Havana, close to the race start. Very good Casa Particular is Casa Evora. In Paseo del Prado, in a corner penthouse flat overlooking the Malecon. That way you can walk to the start.(2010)  After the 2011 race, attempted to get the 12 noon bus back to Varadero. Many of the roads are closed or traffic is stopped due to the full and half marathon runners.  It took 45 minutes to get back to casa, situated three blocks from the start, and then another hour to get to Vizul.  You might want to consider taking the later bus out of the city or staying another night to allow traffic patterns to get back to normal. Missed identified person to coordinate pick up at the 10k mark, due to telephone connection issues and the 10k actually finished a bit further up then where I was advised ..it was a hiccup and you need to go  prepared that the experience may not be as smooth as you would like it but "this too will pass".

Loved  this race, and over all good experience.  Goodluck and enjoy if you're running next year!  Adding a few photos from 2011 run.