Havana Marathon | insightCuba


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Frequently Asked Questions
Havana Marathon

Since 1987, the Marabana Havana Half & Full Marathon and 10k race is held every third Sunday of November. To learn about this year's events, please visit our Havana Marathon tours page for the race date and more details.  

Each year, InsightCuba presents two exclusive tours: the Havana Marathon 4-Day Tour, centered around the Marabana Havana Half & Full Marathon and the Havana Marathon 8-Day Cool-Down Tourwhich takes runners outside the capital city for a celebratory journey into the Western province of Pinar del Río where swirling tobacco fields provide a post marathon backdrop. To remain compliant with U.S. regulations regarding legal travel to Cuba, insightCuba tours are comprised of two different itineraries. First, one for the registered “runners” running in the half marathon, full marathon, or 10k race, and another for the “companions” of marathon runners, traveling with runners, but not running in the race. 

For the unique chance to participate in this epic race, register at http://insightcuba.com/cuba-tours/speciality/havana-marathon-tours or call 800-450-CUBA (2822) to speak with an expert insightCuba travel specialist.

Timing clocks are provided at the start and finish of the race distances. The course is marked at every kilometer in the 10K, half and full marathon.  If racing a marathon in kilometers is new for you, it is wise to be mindful of the conversions: 

1 km = 0.62 miles

5 km = 4.3 miles

Halfway Half-Marathon: 10.5 km = 6.92 miles

Half-Marathon Distance: 21km = 13.1 miles

Full-Marathon Distance: 42 km = 26.2 miles

Given the distance of the Havana Marathon racecourse (26.2 miles for the full marathon, 13.1 miles for the half marathon, and 6.2 miles for the 10k race), the Half Marathon and the 10k race has the higher odds for a walker friendly race. The course is open for five hours. If you can cover the marathon distance in the allotted time race walking, then you are allowed to do so. 


To register for the Marabana Havana Marathon, half marathon, or 10k race, choose one of our Havana Marathon Tours or call 800-450-CUBA (2822) to speak with an expert insightCuba travel specialist. By registering for one of our tours, we take care of most travel details so you can focus your attention to training and preparing for traveling to Cuba.

Included in your insightCuba Havana Marathon tour registration:

  • Standard accommodations at the Meliá Cohiba Hotel in Havana
  • insightCuba exclusive-guided programming
  • Experienced insightCuba tour leader
  • Marathon coaching by Jenny Hadfield
  • Expert Cuban guide
  • Private Cuban driver
  • Meals as outlined in the runner and companion itineraries
  • U.S. Department of the Treasury travel certification
  • Marabana Havana Marathon, half marathon, and 10k race entry fee and bib (runners only)
  • Optional medical check-up (runners only)
  • All entrance fees to scheduled activities and events
  • Fresh bottled water while touring
  • Travel health insurance, emergency medical evacuation, and trip cancellation coverage (up to $1,000)
  • insightCuba travel guidebook
  • 24 hour emergency customer service hotline
  • Certain gratuities according to itinerary
  • All in-country ground transportation and airport transfers via luxury motor coach. 

At the guidance of our running ambassador, Coach Jenny Hadfield, accomplished author, runner and trainer, you’ll receive an introduction to the unique race course and marathon coaching. Once in Cuba, insightCuba will make sure your journey is exceptional and your race a success. 

In 2014, 2,746 participants ran the Marabana Havana Marathon and half marathon, most of which (75%) ran the half marathon. More than 1,000 people were international runners. In 2014, insightCuba sent the largest number of Americans to legally participate in the Marabana Havana Marathon since the race was founded in 1987. This was due to the first amateur sports license issued to insightCuba by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control. 

In 2015, more than 5,000 runners particpated with over 500 from the United States. 

This year, since the White House’s easing of travel restrictions, travel to Cuba for sports reasons has further increased. As the official travel provider of the Marabana Havana Marathon, insightCuba expects the number of American runners to increase. 

Running in a Caribbean marathon requires prior training in order to help acclimate to running in warmer temperatures. InsightCuba Marathon Ambassador, Coach Jenny, advises running indoors 4-5 weeks prior to the race weekend. 

Run by effort, rather than pace.  The heat will double the demands on your body when running and a wise strategy for race day is to run by your body rather than a pace as it will be based on how your body is responding to the heat in the given moment.  The first hour of the Marabana Havana Marathon is the flattest and the coolest, so it is wise to run efficiently and then plan to adjust as the hills and the heat begin to affect your performance. 

Work with the heat.  Run by your effort level rather than your typical pace until you acclimate. If you are new to running, add power walk breaks every 4 to 8 minutes to cool yourself during your runs. It is all about managing your body core temperature and not allowing it to rise too much, risking overheating and really slowing down. Like a car, if the temperature rises too high you will overheat. 

Accessorize. Wear light colored, loose fitting running gear. Technical apparel will allow moisture to pass through to be evaporated, keeping you cooler. Wear sunglasses that filter UVA and UVB rays, waterproof sunscreen, and a hat or visor to protect your skin and eyes from the sun. 

Hydrate during your workouts and on race day. For workouts shorter than 45 minutes, water works just fine. For longer runs, research suggests consuming about a cup of sports drink every 15 to 20 minutes to fuel your muscles and aid in maintaining electrolyte levels. It is recommended to bring your own sports drink and hydration system like a fuel belt. 

Regardless of the season, Cuba enjoys a tropical climate with temperate weather all year-round. In fact, there is no period we would particularly advise against visiting Cuba. Naturally, summer records the highest temperatures, August being the warmest month. 

During November, when the Marabana Havana Marathon takes place, temperatures cool down slightly, as well as humidity levels, allowing for a propitious run during the race. At the same time, peak season for travel to Cuba (December through April) hasn’t started yet. All this simply translates into the perfect setting for travel to Cuba and the race. 

In Havana, the daily highs average around 82F (28°C) throughout the month, while the daily lows range from 64F (18°C) to 70F (21°C). Occasional rain can fall during this season, the most common forms of precipitation being light rain, thunderstorms and moderate rain. November marks the end of hurricane season; therefore quick tropical storm activity is not uncommon. 

Despite the slightly cooler temperatures recorded in November, running in the Marabana Havana Marathon still requires prior training in order to help acclimate to running in warmer temperatures. InsightCuba Marathon Ambassador, Coach Jenny, advises running indoors 4-5 weeks prior to the race weekend. For more tips on running in the heat, visit our FAQ on Tips for running in the heat of the Havana Marathon.  

For additional weather information visit of FAQ on weather in Cuba.

The Marabana Havana Marathon racecourse is well equipped with medical stations and refreshments throughout the course. There is a large medical tent with staff to be found at both start and finish line, as well as oasis stands with doctors and various supplies every three kilometers. 

Please see below the full list of water and medical stations, alongside the racecourse: 

  • National Capitol (start and finish)
  • Malecón sea wall drive and Belascoaín Street
  • Malecón sea wall drive and E Street
  • Restaurant 1830
  • 12th and 19th
  • 23rd and 18th
  • 26th and 29th
  • 26th and Santa María
  • Boyeros and Vía Blanca
  • Boyeros and Ayesterán
  • Boyeros and Aranguren
  • Salvador Allende and Franco 

Runners can also take advantage of the optional medical check-up provided, the day prior to the race. 

Distilled water and flavored sugar-water, both in sealed pouches, are distributed along the race course. All are safe to drink. They are a U.S. runner favorite as the sealed pouches can easily be opened with a tear of your teeth and carried along your run without spilling.

Energy gels and other running aids are not available in Cuba. For more information please visit our FAQ on energy and other running products here

Energy gels, sports drinks such as Gatorade, and other running supplies are not available in Cuba. Please note that due to the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba, Cuba has few goods available for sale and shopping in Cuba is limited to basic necessities. 

Please prepare in advance and bring any products you would normally need to run a marathon. This includes not only energy drinks and gels, but also running gear, extra shoelaces and whatever equipment you may require. Again, none of these items are available for purchase in Cuba. 

If in doubt, our Marathon Ambassador, Coach Jenny, advises runners to bring a hydration system and a powdered version of a favorite sports drink or effervescent tabs to add to the water provided along the course. 

Runners are issued a “dorsal” or bib with a number and an electronic chip attached to the back of the bib. Runner's times are scanned at the starting and finish lines.  Final times will be posted on our website or sent by email within a week after the race or when they are released to us.

Havana Half & Full Marathon is marked in kilometers. For more information on meter conversion to miles and how to keep track of time during the race, refer to our FAQ on are there timing clocks at the kilometer markers on the course.

The Havana half and full marathon, and 10k race start at 7:00AM. The race course itself is 13.1 miles or the distance of a half marathon. The half marathon is completed by one lap around the course and the full marathon is completed with two laps around the course. Said differently the Havana Marathon is two half marathons. 
The race course is open for a total of five hours. The time scheduled for registered half marathoners is from 7:00 to 10:00 AM, allowing runners to complete the competition in up to three hours. The schedule for full marathoners is from 7:00AM to 12:00PM, allowing participants to complete the race in up to five hours. Half marathon runners that are unable to complete the course in three hours will have no problem as the race course itself is open for five hours. 

About a dozen or more portable potties are available at the start of the race. One of the many advantages of our accommodations at the Plaza Hotel is that you are one block from the race course and will have the luxury of your own bathroom just before the race. Once the race gets under way, there are no portable potties provided along the way.

With a series of flat avenues, waterfronts and rolling hills throughout Cuba’s awe-inspiring capital, the Havana Half and Full Marathon provides an encompassing tour of the city’s five municipalities. The full marathon is a two-loop course of the half marathon course. The race starts at the National Capitol in the heart of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, continues along the flat, charming Malecón along the waterfront, rolls through hills into Central Havana by Sports City and Revolution Square, to finish where it began in Old Havana. 

When training for a hilly course, Coach Jenny Hadfield recommends that runners follow a hill strategy to be able to maintain their pace. Watch  How to Run Hills with Coach Jenny Hadfield

  1. Think of hills as a vertical challenge rather than part of your normal run. They require a different strategy.
  2. Forget pace. Always run hills by effort, not speed. Maintaining an even level of effort l going up a hill conserves energy, while making the most of gravity when going downhill.
  3. Your technique is as important as your strategy. When going uphill, shorten your stride, keep your torso tall, focus your gaze on the top of the hill, drive your elbows back and focus on pushing off from your toes. When running downhill, open your stride and let gravity pull you to the bottom.
  4. If you live in a flat area, run on bridges, use a treadmill with a varied incline or look for trails (off-road options often include more rollers).

Yes, all runners are issued a bib or dorsal with a number and an electronic chip attached to the back of the bib. For more information, click the How will my time be recorded at the Marabana Havana Marathon? FAQ. 

It’s a known fact that Cuba is scarce when it comes to shopping. Running shoes, in particular, are nowhere to be found for purchase, and if they appear in stores, they sell at a prohibitive price for the locals. Therefore, running shoes donations are much appreciated by the Cuban people.


If you are interested in donating running shoes, we highly recommend you bring at least two pairs of running shoes – one to use in the competition, and one to donate. During your insightCuba orientation, please inform your tour leader which items you wish to donate. To further facilitate things, insightCuba has made special arrangements for donations during the Marabana Havana Marathon to be dropped off in one single location. Tour leaders will collect running shoes and other running equipment the day before the race. We advise you refrain from giving items to strangers in the street during the race or afterwards in the chute as it creates an unsafe situation for other runners.


For more information, visit our FAQ on goods to donate in Cuba

Most years, the start and finish line are both located at the Paseo del Prado between Teniente Rey street and San José street, right in front of Kid Chocolate. The start of the race is in the heart of Havana, with the newly restored Capitol Building as its backdrop. Depending on climate conditions on the day of the race, start and finish line could be relocated to Malecón Avenue and 25 Street. 
As you run through Havana’s decades of colonial history, history comes alive in the island’s capital most grandiose edifices, such as the historical Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de la Habana (Museum of Fine Arts), Museo de la Revolucion and Plaza de la Revolución.

The Marabana Havana Marathon, Half-Marathon, and 10k race are set to start at 7:00 AM. InsightCuba will provide food and drinks, prior to the start of the race. Be advised that temperatures are generally pleasing at the start of the race, however, as the race gets on its way, temparatures may increase within an hour or two after it begins.

There are no rules against using headphones at the Marabana Havana Marathon. If you decide to wear headphones while running the marathon, we recommend you wear one earplug in and one out. This way, you will be able to hear the activity surrounding you and ensure your safety, as well as of those around you.

Yes, you can change the distance of the event you are running.  Be advised that it is best to do so as early as possible before you leave for Cuba so the race organizers have sufficient time to change your race entry to ensure your place in your respective race and times will be accurate. If you wish to change the race you are participating in, please email us or contact an insightCuba travel specialist at 800-450-CUBA (2822).

Race awards other than the top winners, are normally awarded a few weeks after the race. Race results are often posted within a week of the race. If you win in your age group or category, please contact us and we will try and bring home your award and mail it to you. 

According to officials with the Marabana Havana Marathon, half marathon, or 10k race, there is no age restriction for runners. Registration on one of our Havana Marathon tours is open to all. However, it is important to know, that due to OFAC requirements, every registered participant - regardless of age - is required to run the race. Please note that we also offer a Havana Marathon tour people-to-people itinerary for companions of runners. Please view our age policy FAQ regarding our people-to-people tours. 

Cuba is not generally considered a consumer-based society; therefore you will not encounter a race expo as in most other marathons. Additionally, you will not find any running supplies in Cuba. We recommend you bring anything with you that you would normally need to run your race.

When you check in for the Havana Marathon, half marathon, and 10k race, you will receive an official Havana Marathon race shirt. Upon completion of the Havana Marathon races, you will receive a race medal and bragging rights! To check your race results, head to insightCuba’s Havana Marathon Facebook page.

According to Cuban law, GPS equipment is not permitted in Cuba due to a ban on satellite equipment. You are permitted to bring electronics with GPS capability, however you are expected not to activate it while in Cuba. 

Each race including the full Havana Marathon, half marathon, 10K, and special races for those with disabilities are divided into male and female age categories, including: 
Less than 30                
Submaster 30-35 
Master A: 36 – 40
Master B: 41 – 45
Master C: 46 – 50
Master D: 51 – 55
Master E: 56 – 60
Master F: 61 – 65
Master G: over 66

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