The 5th annual Pursat River Run saw its watery theme taken to extremes on Sunday, but despite a significant downpour in the morning which forced many rural runners to cancel their planned participation due to flooded roads the event was deemed a success with new course records set.
The 10km men’s race was won by Cambodia’s top distance runner Hem Bunting, who slashed more than three minutes off the previous best with a time of 33 minutes 43 seconds.
The women’s race was also won by a large margin, with Cambodia’s Ly Nary winning in a record 43 minutes 6 seconds.
In the 5km races there was joy for Pursat’s own athletes as Phan Sopheak and Phan Paneth carried off the men’s and women’s honours respectively. Races for disabled people were also organised, with Phnom Penh amputee San Mae winning a 1.8km run.
Due to the morning’s deluge, only an estimated 800 out of the 1,346 registered runners managed to make it to the start line. However, the cool conditions meant many participants were able to obtain fast times.
According to race founder and co-organiser Steve Harknett, Sunday’s races attracted runners from Phnom Penh, Kampong Chhnang, Siem Reap, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey, as well as Pursat, and also featured expatriates hailing from 12 different countries.
More than US$2,000 was available in prize money, and foreign supporters donated additional prizes including running shoes and watches.
The main sponsor of the event was Smart Mobile, who excited many of the local youths by giving out free SIM cards, while British national Harknett and other charitable well-wishers also contributed to the costs.
The prize-giving ceremony was attended by Deputy Provincial Governor Mok Ra and two officials from the Khmer Amateur Athletics Federation. In his speech, Harknett emphasised the motto ‘sport for all’, saying that sport united disabled and non-disabled people together, as well as people both young and old from Cambodia and abroad.