The sixth Phnom Penh International Half Marathon will come under starter’s orders in front of the Royal Palace at 6am on Sunday, with up to 4,000 runners expected to take part.
The event, which is meant to celebrate the birthday of the Queen Mother, offers three categories: a 3 kilometre fun run, the 10km road race and the half marathon (21.1km).
The 21.1km Phnom Penh run, which supports the Kantha Bopha Children’s hospitals and other charitable causes, also marks two major commemorations: World Environment Day and the 122nd Olympic Day.
Numbers even higher
While overseas participation drawn from 34 countries showed a marked increase last year, the number of participants also touched a new high, which prompted optimism the numbers could be even higher this year.
“Increase in numbers, especially overseas runners over the years has been a positive sign,” said Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.
“The new route that we introduced last year that took the runners across the river twice has gone down very well with the participants,” he noted.
Like last year’s route, the runners go past the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge for the first time on their way up.
Then they turn back towards the finish line in front of the Royal Palace through the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge.
In 2015, Kazuhiko Oki, a 28-year-old gym instructor from the Japanese city of Kobe, topped the men’s field ahead of a Cambodian pair, while French teacher Veronique Messina recorded her third triumph in the women’s race.
This event is one of the Kingdom’s three main charity runs in the annual national calendar.