Cambodian long-distance runner Hem Bunting (left) on his way to winning the Phnom Penh Aquathlon at the Cambodian Country Club on May 6. The Cambodian Triathlon Federation will host an inaugural duathlon on July 15. Photograph: supplied
Exciting times are ahead for the Kingdom’s small but steadily growing triathlon community. The fledgling Cambodia Triathlon Federation (CTF), which was established less than three years ago, is set to stage the inaugural Phnom Penh International Duathlon on July 15, marking the beginning of a new drive to promote one of athletics’ toughest disciplines.
Duathlon, which is a triathlon off-shoot, involves two spells of running with a stretch of cycling in between.
It is fast gaining popularity all over the world.
The Phnom Penh event has been planned around three major landmarks in the city – NagaWorld, the National Assembly building and Diamond Island. The event begins and ends in front of NagaWorld.
Seasoned competitors and professionals go through a circuit of five kilometres running, then jump on their bikes for a 20-kilometre stint before launching into 2.5 kilometre finishing run. For amateurs, the distances are 2.5 kilometres of running on either side of a 10-kilometre ride.
“Our success with two Aquathlons this year has led us to this big duathlon event,” CTF president and founder Kong Rithy Chub told the Post.
“We have requested the International Triathlon Union and the Asian Triathlon Confederation to send officials and observers for the race. It could well be a tipping point for Cambodian triathlons.
“The CTF will also organise the Angkor Wat International Duathlon in September and the Sihanoukville International Triathlon in December. Our aim is to organise a minimum of five events per year.”
There are currently six active clubs in the country, catering to around 160 triathletes, and four more clubs are expected to sprout in the next one or two years.
The CTF’s heightened optimism on growth potential, however, stems from the fact there are 200 active members of the Cycling Federation and 100 runners with the Athletics Federation.
“We have scores of swimmers too. These numbers give us the hope that triathlon and its abridged forms, aquathlon and duathlon, will attract more and more competitors from these groups,” Kong Rithy Chub said.
“Right now, the training facilities are basic. Our athletes train at the Olympic Stadium.
“We need better equipment and infrastructure. We are looking for sponsors and partners who could help us in these areas.
“Participation in the SEA Games, the Asian Games and the Olympics is absolutely important for us.”