The second edition of Yoma Yangon International Marathon was held on 19 January. It was the country’s largest marathon and Yangon’s only road race, with nearly 3,000 runners taking part in the event, which also included the 21km half-marathon and 5km fun run categories.

The race started at Thuwunna National Indoor stadium at 5am and 5.30am for the full and half marathon respectively, with temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Celsius. Together with the dry Yangon air, the chilly weather provided the conditions for a good run.

Majestic Landscapes, Wonderful Crowd

Whilst the 42km route passed by various landmarks like Inya Lake and Aung San Suu Kyi Residence, the 21km route was not short of uniquely beautiful landscapes as well, taking runners past the Customs House, Kandawgyi Lake, and various Buddhist pagodas, including Myanmar’s iconic Shwedagon Pagoda.

However, the majestic landscapes made up only part of the whole experience. Adding on to the uniquely Yangon run experience were the people of Yangon. Along the entire route were people coming out of their homes to passionately cheer runners on, making the uneven roads seem like a red carpet. Apart from villagers, we also witnessed toll gates officers coming out of their booths to cheer us on as we ran through toll gates, and monks on their morning rituals.

Barefoot Champion

The wonderful weather conditions and crowd atmosphere eventually rallied marathon winners Joseph Gitau Kariuki (male) from Kenya and Myint Myint Aye (female) from Myanmar to come in with timings of 2 hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds, and 3 hours, 1 minute and 13 seconds respectively.

What made the Myint Myint Aye’s winning effort more remarkable was the fact that she, like many other school boys, ran the rough tarmac roads barefooted.

During the duration and also after the race, runners and supporters were also treated to various activities at mini booths, and Yangon’s delicacies were also available, free of charge, for runners post run.

Enjoyable Yangon Experience

For me, this was one of the best marathon experiences I’ve ever had. Kudos to the organisers for the great space and crowd management. Despite road closures, it was very convenient for to get to and back from the race site, as cabs are easily available and drop off points is merely a few stones’ throw away from the event site.

Also, there were no congestion for baggage deposit, no bottlenecks along the route, and the run distances were accurate and well marked out. The supportive crowds, magnificent sights, and cool weather were made the whole experience more enjoyable.

On the whole, if you’re looking for a fresh experience, be it for leisure or for smashing personal bests, this is an event not to be missed.

Event Overview

  • Scenic course showcasing the rustic colonial Yangon architecture.
  • Fast and accessible baggage deposit before and after the race.
  • Starts were on time and there were no bottlenecks.
  • Enthusiastic and supportive crowd for most of the course.
  • Great weather condition for breaking personal best.
Chua Jing Zhi

Jing Zhi is a vegan ultramarathoner/triathlete who is passionate about mind/body wellness. He hopes to make the world a better place through sports, writing, and charity.

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