More than 800 runners took to the streets of Pursat on Sunday morning for the fourth annual Pursat River Run, in a turnout that far exceeded the organisers’ expectations. Four races were held, with 5k and 10k routes run by men and women as well as races for athletes in wheelchairs and runners with amputations.
As well as participants from Pursat province, the races attracted a sizeable number of local and expatriate entrants from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey.
The 10k race was won by Kieng Samorn, a member of the Cambodian national athletics team, while Belgian triathlete Viviane Renard was the first woman to finish. The 5k men’s race was won by Phnom Penh tuk-tuk driver Sat Samoeurn, with 16-year-old Siem Reap resident Chea Thea taking top female honours.
The event was organised by the Pursat Department of Education Youth and Sport, and its main sponsor was the telephone company Smart Mobile, whose CEO Thomas Hundt attended the prize-giving ceremony. “We are eager to support the Pursat River Run next year again,” said Hundt, whose company will be providing mobile coverage in Pursat from next month.
Nim Kosal, deputy chief of the Pursat Provincial Sport’s Office and main race organiser, said that the event helped people in Pursat to be more aware of sport, and noted interest in sporting activities was increasing every year. “We also hope that the Pursat River Run will help more athletes in Pursat to improve and compete at national level,” he added.
This year more than US$1,500 was raised from entrance fees, which the Department of Education Youth and Sport will use to buy sport equipment for schools in Pursat and to establish a training club for promising athletes.
The Pursat River Run has also benefited sport development outside of Pursat. Five Australians were sponsored to run in the race on behalf of the NGO Christian Care for Cambodia. They succeeded in raising $4,000 for the NGO’s sport development project in Poipet.
“The scenic course made it a really enjoyable race for the Australian sponsors,” said CCFC development worker Pip Miner. CCFC had established a running club in Poipet to prepare runners for the race. According to Miner, the Pursat River Run was a “great culmination” of 10 weeks of training. “I thought it would be the end of our club, but many people want to continue training, so the race has encouraged participation in running,” she said.