Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bunting, Messina top podiums at Sihanoukville half-marathon

Bunting, Messina top podiums at Sihanoukville half-marathon

A Cambodian runner reaches the finish line of the Sihanoukville-Angkor Beer International Half Marathon
A Cambodian runner reaches the finish line of the Sihanoukville-Angkor Beer International Half Marathon yesterday. Yeun Ponlork

Bunting, Messina top podiums at Sihanoukville half-marathon

Cambodia’s most successful long distance runner, Hem Bunting, capped the country’s clean sweep in the third Sihanoukville-Angkor Beer International Half Marathon men’s event yesterday, even as a French teacher from Phnom Penh, Veronique Messina, took the honours in the women’s race.

A late surge of entries from tourists and locals boosted the number of participants to a record 2,070, with close to 300 runners from overseas.

Declared one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Sihanoukville’s tourist hot spot Occheuteal Beach proved a perfect starting point early yesterday morning as the participants began to assemble well before first light.

When nearly 200 were sent on their journey for the 21km charity run, Hem Bunting was off to a leisurely stride, but within the next mile he was already at the head of the field. At the halfway point, Bunting was beginning to put daylight between him and the rest, though his fellow countryman Ma Viro was not far behind.

The Cambodian pair turned in for the final stretch well ahead of the pack. Bunting recorded a time of one hour, 16 minutes and nine seconds to emerge the winner, despite this being far slower than many of his previous triumphs.

Ma Viro clocked in at 1:16:17 to finish a creditable second, seven minutes ahead of another Cambodian, Phan Sopheak.

“I have run faster timings before but today it was a bit different going through the gradients,” Hem Bunting told the Post after the race.

“I will run in every competitive race that is held in the country. I am looking forward to the full marathon in Siem Reap [on August 17] and I am also trying to get a sponsor for my trip to Australia for a marathon there.”

In the women’s event, Veronique Messina, who was third last year, went one better by winning in 1:42:36, well ahead of Becky Snyder Ballou of the United States. Ireland’s Ceri Davis finished third.

In the supporting 10km event, Cambodia’s Chea Samphors was fastest in the men’s run while France’s Chloe Laboisne took the top spot in the women’s section.

Franz Gradinger of Austria finished a minute behind Samphors but well clear of Cambodia’s Theaka Tep in third place.

Local runner Heng Mey Chu did well to earn second place behind Laboisne, keeping at bay Kuester Gabi of Germany.

Hundreds of men, women and children of all ages and athletic abilities took part in the 3km fun run and walk.

“We are very happy with the turnout. Our estimate was around 1,500 participants but we far exceeded that expectation,” National Olympic Committee of Cambodia secretary-general Vath Chamroeun told the Post.

“The overseas participation nearly doubled compared to last year. It is a very good sign.

“As we head to our first full marathon in August this year at Angkor Wat, the response has been very good. Right now 300 overseas runners have already registered for that event,” he added.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all