Have you ever thought about signing up for one of the runs in Angkor Wat? Whether you are an established runner who has never done it or a total beginner looking for something to aim for, I hereby present you with five great reasons why you should go for it:
1. It’s great for all kinds of life and running circumstances
There are two major running events that take place in Cambodia: the Angkor Empire Full and Half Marathons in August and the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon in December. The latter includes a 21K for wheelchairs, a 10K road race option including a category for artificial limbs and a 3K family fun run.
I took part in the International Half Marathon in December 2015. I went as a single female and after the run, met up with some friends who had run the 10K. Whilst I was there I met runners from so many situations. There were other single females like myself, large groups, whole families for whom Mum or Dad was going to watch while the other ran or whom were all going to take part in one of the distances.
The whole town is set up and ready for the influx of runners, which now exceed 8,500 from 78 different countries compared with the 654 from 14 countries that ran when the event started in 1996. There is a great atmosphere. Whilst I went alone, I didn’t feel alone at all, just part of an amazing global running community.
If you live in South East Asia, a trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia is a pretty easy hop. (Although do note that on arrival you need around USD 35 and a passport photo to get a month’s visa).
2. It helps some fantastic causes
The entry registration fees plus other donations and sponsorship all contribute to helping victims of anti-personnel mines in Cambodia and the event is attended by many of those affected. In addition, support goes to the Angkor Children’s Hospital, The Cambodia Trust (prosthetic limbs support), The Cambodian Red Cross, CDAF (sports for disabled people) along with helping programmes for the education and prevention of HIV/AIDS.
3. It’s a perfect backdrop to a run
Many will cite the great outdoors as one of the big reasons they love to run. In Angkor Wat, this great outdoors has a whole lot more to offer. The course is relatively flat and peppered with ancient trees and temples. Whilst I was in the holding line waiting to start the run (which serendipitously kicked off a little late), the sun was starting to come up over the temples in the distance. If ever there was a totally unique and iconic way to start a run! The first half of the 21K distance was like running through the woods, in the second half it starts getting interesting. Every few minutes there was something phenomenal to see. There were way more than a few “WOW” moments and at times you are prone to forgetting you are running a pretty long way.
4. Your post-run tuk-tuk ride is heavenly
I had to include this, as I need to file it under one of the happiest moments of my 25-year running life. It’s obviously very hot and sunny in Cambodia and running is a very hot and sweaty undertaking. The main mode of motorised transport is the tuk-tuk – basically a motorcycle pulling a covered sofa! These two things combine, post run, for an amazing feeling. I sat in mine for the return to the hotel with my medal round my neck, my laces loosened and my hair blowing in the breeze. I literally did not stop smiling for the whole journey.
5. It’s an amazing overall experience
I loved my Angkor Wat running adventure from start to finish (even though this included me flying to Phnom Penh by mistake! – Another story). It felt like I really earned a running stripe even though my time was far from a personal best. The whole trip though was something to behold. After the well earned post-run rest, I got together with my friends and we did the temple tour, we hydrated with fresh coconut water and basked in that endorphin soaked afterglow that comes after an amazing run.
So, if you are thinking about running Angkor Wat, as the manufacturer of a well-known running shoe might say: Just do it!For more information, check out http://www.angkormarathon.org