For athletes who have traveled the world and run into a different organiser at every marathon, the fact that Cambodia has only one major organising force, Cambodia Events Organiser, may seem like a very sensible move. After all, when the same entity plans and stages every event, coordination reaches a new height, arrangements are uniform and despite distinctions between races, there’s an efficiency runners can look forward to with each competition.
Come for the history; stay for the medals
Journey to Cambodia for any of the marathons found on the Cambodia Events Organiser site and you must make time to see the sites. This mysterious land began as the great kingdom of Angkor, became an epicenter for Hinduism and Buddhism, went through periods of great unrest and emerged as a popular destination for today’s adventurous traveler.
Some visitors are interested in nothing more than ancient temples, acquiring artifacts and indulging in foods unique to Cambodia. Others are aware of the amazing marathon tradition that may not be old, but it is dynamic, challenging athletes to set personal bests and win medals amid some of the nation’s most sacred, breathtaking sites.
Run your race; see the country
No visit to Cambodia would be complete without digging into the nation’s history and culture, so add at least a day to your visit to take in the area’s fascinating sites, sounds and tastes. If you’re on a budget, most of these gorgeous destinations only require you to pay for transport so consider any of these magical visits:
- Watch the sun come up over Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument
- Visit the Rosewood Phnom Penh Hotel’s Sora sky bar to view the entire city by night
- Make a day trip to Koh Rong Samloem where isolated beaches invite barefoot walking in sand
- Trek around the Cardamom Mountains to explore Southeast Asia’s largest rainforest
- Go pagoda roaming at Battambag where tourists look down upon Cambodia’s rice bowl
- Kayak along the Kampot Rover while giving your leg muscles a rest
- Ascend Bokor Mountain to spot waterfalls, Buddhist statues and natural wonders
- Hang out with pachyderms at the Elephant Valley Project.
22 Years of Marathons and Counting
Runners have myriad chances to experience what it’s like to run a marathon in Cambodia because these athletic events are staged throughout the year. Perhaps the most well-known and well-attended are the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon, Sihanoukville Marathon, Khmer Empire Full Marathon, Phnom Penh International Half Marathon and Angkor City Night Music Run.
Jointly organised by authorities like the Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Education Youth and Sports, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, these are more than opportunities to run. They exist to show off this country’s cultural heritage, introduce the people of the world to welcoming Cambodian citizens and are often staged to benefit charitable organisations that care for those less fortunate.
Three big marathons; which suits you?
1. The Khmer Empire Marathon
Also known as the Angkor Empire Marathon, is to be held on 4th August 2019. If you choose to join the party, you will join an estimated 4,000 runners representing 49 nations, all of whom can’t wait to complete amid a fascinating mix of ancient temple compounds, rice fields and national forest.
Open to experienced and new runners alike, you’ll be treated like royalty during this full marathon by organisers and citizens eager to cheer you on to victory!
2. Angkor Wat International Half Marathon
If a full marathon isn’t your cup of tea, the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon can satisfy more than your desire to compete: This marathon, scheduled for 8th December 2019, raises money to support landmine victims who, as a result of war, have lost limbs, hope and faith. Staged since 1996 with the same fundraising agenda, competitors are surrounded by the ruins of Angkor Wat, a World Heritage Site, as they run this event’s route.
This marathon has become so well attended and popular, some of the money raised also goes to impoverished children housed at the Angkor Children’s Hospital and Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital.
3. Phnom Penh International Half Marathon
Runners who have conflicts of interest in August and December that preclude them from coming to Cambodia have a third chance to compete when they sign up for the Phnom Penh International Half Marathon, flagging off on 16th June 2019.
You don’t have to be a member of the royal family to start and end your race at the Royal Palace located along the Mekong River. Charitable giving is also associated with this marathon; in addition to helping to care for Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital patients, a portion of profits go to organisations supporting environmental issues.
If you want an excuse to celebrate, Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk’s birthday happens to be on 16th June, too.
Which of the aforementioned races intrigues you the most? And once you’ve identified the perfect race match for yourself, which of the Cambodian adventures we suggest is most likely to land on your “must see” list?