“Sabai Sabai” Runcation in December at Phukethon 2017
Inaugural Running Festival gets serious on sports tourism with IAAF certified marathon route, tie ups with Okinawa and Beijing marathons and full governmental support.
Runcations are the rage these days, especially for running enthusiasts that want to kill two birds – or more – with one stone. Running and having vacations are not one off phenomenon; rather they will continue to flourish as both tourism bodies and industry players woo this new consumer segment.
However, as much as overseas runs seem appealing, there are some practical factors that may hinder runners from participating: races are in faraway cities that make them less affordable, race timings are right in the middle of the kids’ school examinations, and race temperatures are extreme thus requiring extensive additional preparations.
Let us now look at what Phukethon 2017 has to offer: December school holiday period, slightly more than an hour’s flight time, good food and hospitality, International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) certified routes, and the list just goes on.
At Phukethon 2017’s launch event held at the picturesque Promthep Cape on 5 Sep, it was very evident that the Thais - and the Phuket locals in particular - meant serious business. In attendance were Phuket Governor Norraphat Plodthong, Sports Authority of Thailand Deputy Governor Lt. Col. Ruj Saeng-udom, Move Asia’s Managing Director Riduwan Matni and Race Director Boonperm Intanapasat, among other notable guests.
Car Free Day
While Phuket is already a host to highly established running and triathlon events, Phukethon 2017 taking place on 8-10 Dec raises the bar a few notches up by having its start and finish points at the famed Saphan Hin, routes passing along city landmarks, having fun run events at Thanyapura and Nai Harn Beach, as well as declaring for the first time a “car-free” day with a six-hour road closure in the city.
To put things in perspective, you would need to understand how chaotic traffic at Patong and the city can be, and to have road closures would be a monumental feat indeed.
To ensure high standards of Thai hospitality would be extended to the participants, the organisers, tourism and sports bodies and local authorities are keeping in check 10,000 runners, including at least 1,000 internationally.
Elite runners from 20 nations would be invited, while local glamour is added with participation from TV celebrities and influencers. The running expo will have more than 100 booths, and “Fisherman Village” style music and food festival will offer gastronomic delights.
Picturesque Routes, Food and Entertainment Galore
Three routes – The Cape (full marathon), The Bay (half marathon) and The Old Town (10km) – are being offered on Sunday 10 Dec. Each distance would have its unique event tee, and additionally there would be finisher tees for half and full marathon distance runners. All finishers would be awarded with a very unique finisher medal.
A word of caution though on The Cape’s full marathon route. Scenic and breath taking, runners would need to psyche up for the hills in Phuket. They may be intimidating, but offer the ultimate runners’ high once the challenges have been overcome.
To add to the festival feel, additional events including the “Colour Fun Run” offering 5, 2 and 1km distances are offered at Thanyapura, Thailand’s largest sports training centre that has seen the likes of Formula One, La Liga and triathlon superstars visiting the facility. “Jelly Fish Beach Run” would also take place on Nai Harn Beach. These events will take place on Saturday 9 Dec.
Race registrations are already open.
Phuket is easily accessible from Singapore. There are plenty of flights serving between Singapore and Phuket a few times daily, and moving around Phuket island is convenient too. Accommodation from backpackers’ to five-star hotel standards are also easily.
Do note that as December is peak season in Phuket, it is advisable to confirm flight and accommodation bookings soon, if you choose ala carte bookings. If you prefer to go on a travel package, the organisers are working on them and will make announcements in due course.
The inaugural Phukethon 2017 promises to be a historic event as it guns to be a major running festival in Asia. Major marathons the likes of Tokyo, London and Boston go through ballot registration processes.
Phukethon will get there someday. For now, why not seize the chance and register to be a part of history and be among the first to conquer Promthep Cape?