Last Saturday, Detroit man Sam McGoun started a 625km triathlon venture across Cambodia, from the remote fishing village of Mechrey outside Siem Reap to Sihanoukville. He will swim, run and cycle the entire route, and is scheduled to finish today.
His objective is to raise awareness of human trafficking in Cambodia, and to raise $30,000 for Sala Baï, a hospitality training school in Siem Reap.
Since June last year, McGoun, a vice-president at American Express in Singapore, has taken a year out of his career to commit himself to supporting Sala Baï, replacing the relentless pressure of work with an arguably equally intense training program that will enable him to run for over four hours each morning and cycle the remainder of the average of 100km per day required to complete the journey.
But on the second day, he had to cover 140km after a routing error.
The 36 year old’s extraordinary resolve comes from the very students he hopes to support. “Hearing about the challenges these guys have overcome inspires you to do something really out of the ordinary,” he said.
Jean Paul Dethomas, the director of Sala Baï, agreed. “The only condition these kids suffer from is being born poor. They are bright, dedicated and working really hard to escape that condition.”
McGoun started his first day with a half-hour swim in the Tonle Sap. It seemed prudent not to tell him that the lake is the source of the largest snake harvest in the world before he went in though.
The second leg was a run from Chong Kneas into Siem Reap, past Sala Baï where students cheered him on and then hopped on their bikes to accompany him to Angkor Wat. From there he rode 70km to Kampong Kdey.
McGoun is undaunted by the difficulties posed by the weather and the heat. . “I train in Singapore where we’ve got 100 per cent humidity”, he said. “I’m used to sweating.”