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Athletes complete triathlon around Angkor

Local man Sieng Makara races to gold in the first ever official triathlon held at the Angkor temples Sunday

Photo by: Rann Reuy
27-year-old Sieng Makara celebrates with the finish line after winning his first ever triathlon held around the Angkor temples Sunday.

SIEM REAP
THE historic Angkor temples in Siem Reap once again provided the backdrop for a display of human exertion with the inaugural Angkor Wat International Triathlon Sunday, which organisers named Series Zero. Thirty-three participants consisting of four Japanese, one British, one Dutch and the rest Cambodian, competed in the event organised by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC).

To cater for the varied field, two courses were laid out; the Short Course run by 13 individuals took them on a 300-metre swim across the Western Baray reservoir, then a 40-kilometre bicycle ride around the grounds of the temples before finishing off with a 10-kilometre run ending in front of Angkor Wat.

Meanwhile, the remaining 20 athletes competed in the Enjoy Course, which involved a 100-metre swim, followed by a 10-kilometre bike ride and a 4-kilometre run.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary general of NOCC, was pleased at the success of the event held in Siem Reap for the first time, adding that triathlons had already been held in Kampot and in Kep following the establishment of the Triathlon Federation in 2008.

The secretary noted the significance of hosting an event around the prestigious Angkor temples, especially as the Western Baray reservoir could be used for swimming.

“It is a tourism sports event, and we plan to invite 100 to 200 [foreign] athletes to participate in the competition next year,” he said, adding that officials are looking to host the event in January when the weather conditions should be cooler and a larger amount of water still remains in the reservoir.

Hem Thon, secretary general of Cambodia’s Triathlon Federation, said that in the next year, officials will organise a full triathlon, which requires participants to swim 1,500 metres, cycle 40 kilometres and run 10 kilometres.

“We hope that we will be successful next year,” he said.

Twenty-seven-year-old local runner Sieng Makara of Travel Loops travel agency completed the course in the winning time of two hours, seven minutes and 31 seconds.

“We have a clear understanding about this sport and have trained for one month prior to the event,” he said, adding that he was happy the swimming distance was short, as it is his weakest discipline.

Dutchman Dinus de Vries finished four minutes back to claim second place. He said that he found the race difficult due to the extremely high temperatures, wondering why organisers had not begun the race earlier in the morning or later in the day.

The Dutchman also bemoaned the traffic conditions that had hindered his cycling and running sections. However, de Vries admitted things were good enough for him to enjoy it.

“I am quite happy with such an event because I did not swim for the last six months and also, I did not ride bicycles in the mountains for a long time,” he said. “I push myself faster when I see someone in front me, that’s why I am faster in running.”

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