Considering the many successes of Olympic golden child and record-wrecking sprinter Usain Bolt, it's easy for people to forget that Jamaica's true specialty is performing unremarkably—and yet memorably!—in cold-weather sports. That should change any day now, once word gets out that St. Ann native Newton Marshall will spend the next two weeks racing in the Iditarod. As of a couple days into the race, Marshall was in 49th place, with 17 mushers and countless movie executives in hot pursuit.
The circumstances leading up to Marshall's entry are almost too comical to believe—in other words, they're exactly what you'd expect for a Jamaican dogsled racer. I say that without a trace of sarcasm or belittlement; the dude, after all, left Jamaica in 2007 to train in the Yukon and has entered a handful of dogsled races since then, and, oh, is in the Iditarod, a 1,150-mile slog through literally every cold-weather force of nature known to man. But he also has Jimmy Buffett as a sponsor. That's inherently funny, even if Marshall really is as manly as they come.
As no one will be surprised to find out, if (please: when) Marshall finishes, he'll be not just the first Jamaican to complete the Iditarod, but actually the first black man to do so. It's a Kathryn Bigelow-level achievement, sort of, minus the winning, which is pretty improbable for the 27-year-old rookie—remember, he's in 49th place. But whatever happens, Marshall's decision has reinforced the idea that Jamaica is the fun, scrappy nation everyone assumed it was. It also makes Bahamians look like a bunch of layabouts.