Answers to all your questions
Can I drink the water? Yes. Panama City's water (and that of other cities in Panama) is treated and is of the highest quality. The water dispensed during the marathon is purified and commercially packed in in sealed plastic pouches. Here's some information on hydration.
How do I get to the starting line? The race starts at the Multiplaza Pacific Mall, a shopping mall about one kilometer from the official hotel, the Plaza Paitilla Inn. A bus will take you to the start from the hotel at 4:00 a.m., or you can take a taxi for around a dollar, or if you're ambitious, you can walk.
Is it safe in Panama? Yes. In fact, it is one of the safest tourist destinations anywhere. Here's a link to a study by one person who claims that overall you are safer in Panama than in the US. Click here for the article.
How about water points? Panama's heat and humidity make adequate fluid intake important. The organizers will have water points at 2k intervals during the early part of the race and at 1k intervals beginning at kilometer 34.
Will there be sport drinks? Powerade will be available at several points along the course.
When is the latest I can register? If you're registering on-line, August 4 is the last day you can register. You can register in person in Panama on Saturday, August 8 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Plaza Paitilla Inn.
How do I get to and from the airport? Panama's Tocumen International Airport is about 20 km from downtown. A taxi will cost around $25 (or two people for $28). Many hotels furnish transportation to and from the airport.
Is there any race besides the marathon? A half marathon and a relay race for teams of 2 to 8 persons will take place concurrently with the marathon. Relay Race Details
Do I need a visa to come to Panama? Visitors from most countries need only a tourist card, which costs $5.00 and can usually be purchased from your airline. This site has complete requirements:
Is there a wheelchair category? Yes
Do you use ChampionChip timing? No. Timing is done with Time Machine electronic timers.
When is the 2009 marathon? August 9, 2009. Mark your calendar!
Crime statistics in Panama versus South Carolina
Recemty El Panama America (a major daily newspaper here in Panama) published crime statistics for the entire country for January, 2006. Being a curious sort, and loving analogies, I meandered the net until I found a state that was about the right size --- South Carolina --- with a population not too far off. South Carolina has 4.1 million people versus Panama’s 3 million. Also, South Carolina is not known as being the crime capital of the US.
Unfortunately, South Carolina only gave statistics for the year of 2003 and before, and only annually, but Bill Gates’ trusty Excel is a great tool, and I was able to normalize the data (gotta keep in practice!). For the finicky, note that if Panama’s population is over 3 million, the comparison just gets better.
So, the comparison comes up with the following for a one month period, normalized to assume the equivalent population density:
· Murders: Panama 18 - South Carolina 18.29
· Sex Abuse: Panama 23 - South Carolina 112 (388%)
· Aggravated Assault (with guns or knives): Panama 132 - South Carolina 1534 (+1062%)
While sex abuse and domestic charges are probably underreported in Panama for cultural reasons (aren’t they everywhere?), the murder and aggravated assault statistics are probably comparable.
The conclusion is pretty clear --- overall you are safer in Panama than in the US.
Further, when violent crime happens (as opposed to white collar crime…) there is a high rate of capture. Whether this has to do with fact that the country really is small, and the population accessible, or with the occasional stupidity of the criminal element is unclear. We had a friend whose neighbor was robbed at gunpoint at 2 AM last month in his house --- pretty strange when you consider that most houses are locked up pretty tight. It turned out that the man and his friend doing the robbing had been working in the house for the owner for the week before, so the owner was able to give a very good description and he was quickly apprehended. Your choice --- good police work or incredible stupidity!