Buoyed by last year’s success, the small provincial capital of Pursat is bracing itself for the fourth edition of the Pursat River Run this Sunday.
The town of 25,000 people comes bustling to life during these increasingly popular road races of 5 kilometres and 10 kilometres for both men and women, when the area pools its resources to promote health and sport and also raise funds for the development of budding young local athletes.
The annual river run, which takes a picturesque route along the banks of the Pursat river, is organised by Pursat Development of Education, Youth and Sport with support from the Kingmaker Foundation and the Green Vespa. The Disability Development Services Programme is also staging two races for the disabled – one for amputees, mainly landmine survivors, and the other for wheelchair racers.
The event has steadily grown in stature since its inception in 2007. The inaugural event attracted 286 runners, which increased to 393 the following year before seeing a record 495 compete last year. The organisers are confident that there will be another sizeable increase in participation this year.
The idea for the event was conceived by English expatriate runner and Pursat resident Steve Harknett as a response to the dearth of organised long distance road races in the country. The inaugural run was named after famous local legend Oknha Khleang Moeung before switching to its current title the following year, when an extra race for the disabled athletes was introduced. The third edition on October 25 last year included nine elite Cambodian runners, 20 expatriates from 11 countries, as well as 18 amputees and 13 wheelchair racers.
One of the Kingdom’s leading cellphone services providers, Smart Mobile, are the main sponsors this year, donating the entire prize fund including cash, locally-made trophies and other prizes for the first 15 finishers in the men’s and women’s over 5 kilometre and 10 kilometre races.
According to race organisers, all proceeds from the event will go towards school sports development in Pursat. The three-pronged objective of the River Run is to celebrate running, promote disability equality and stimulate the local economy.
Entrance fees for the run have been fixed at US$15 for foreigners and $1 for local participants. Entries can be registered online at www.runpursat.info, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 093300002.