Seasoned long distance runner Ma Viro led a Cambodian one-two in the 4th Sihanoukville Angkor Beer International Half Marathon on Saturday, with the first of the Kingdom’s four charity runs this year showing a marginal increase in the participation of overseas runners.
Sydney resident Kylie-Anne Richards made a profitable detour from her trip to Hong Kong to compete in the port city and left Ochheuteal Beach, the start and finish venue for this year’s event a proud winner of the women’s run.
The supporting event, the 10km run for men and women went to Cambodian runners with Kieng Samorn extending his dominance in the men’s section and 23-year old Heng Meng Chu breaking out of several podium finishes to finally grab top honours in the women’s run.
The day’s card also included a 3km family fun run, and for the first time small businesses from the province marked their presence in a one commune-one product expo around the venue. In another notable first, visitors to the half marathon site were also treated to Kun Khmer boxing competition later in the evening.
In all, 250 runners from 30 countries joined 1,000 locals in various categories, marking nearly 10 per cent increase in the number of overseas participants.
“We have clearly seen signs of progress this year. The foreign participation is up and I feel the numbers will be much higher if direct flights to Sihanoukville are made available,” Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee, said.
Once the half marathon field settled down, Ma Viro found himself in a comfortable spot and by midway had taken firm control. There was not even the slightest prospect of anyone catching him about five kilometres out.
He won in a time of 1 hour 18 min and 56 seconds, which was nearly 12 minutes clear of compatriot Phan Sopheak, who finished seven minutes ahead of third placed Hiroshi Ake of Japan.
Runners from Great Britain filled up the next two places, dawdling home behind the Australian in long intervals. I Woodward was second best in 1:52.33 with Adeline further adrift at two hours flat.
In an exciting duel, Kieng Samorn (39.18) staved off a strong challenge from Kang Thoeum with less than a minute separating the pair.
Chea Samphors was a distant third.
Cambodia’s Heng Meng Chu won her 10km race with a measure of comfort in 50 minutes and eight seconds ahead of Chene Mcgona of Australia and Rebecca Devitt of the UK.
The next international half marathon in the calendar this year is set for Phnom Penh in May.