The Manulife Cambodia-sponsored 27th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon made a roaring return on December 4 after two scaled-down events due to Covid-19 restrictions, with almost 8,000 runners from 69 countries taking part.

With 5,814 Cambodians joining the 1,720 international runners, the majority from the UK, the US and France, the significant turnout highlighted the race’s position as the Kingdom’s largest sporting event – and Cambodians’ increasing embracing of exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

Since 2014, Manulife’s sponsorship of the race is part of the company’s commitment to helping Cambodian people live healthier, more active lives and bringing economic benefit to local communities.

“The Manulife partnership brings great results every year, and I would also like to thank the Cambodian people for their participation and their awareness of the value of sport and being healthy.

“We are committed to promoting sport and public health. The increasing numbers joining the race show that more people are participating in sport and adopting healthy lifestyles,” said National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) secretary-general

Vath Chamroeun.

As well as promoting health, the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon also raises funds for charities supporting underprivileged children and the victims of landmines.

In addition to being exclusive sponsor, Manulife Cambodia runs a fundraising campaign from employees across the globe in support of the Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC).

Minister of Tourism Thong Khon starts the 27th Angkor Wat International Half-Marathon . Heng Chivoan

AHC is a non-profit paediatric healthcare organisation providing high-quality treatment that has saved the lives of more than two million Cambodian children over the past 20 years.

This year, more than $45,000 was raised, bringing Manulife Cambodia’s total support for AHC to nearly $600,000 since 2015.

Justin Helferich, CEO and general manager of Manulife Cambodia, said: “We are proud to sponsor the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon in support of empowering health and wellbeing for families across Cambodia.

“In addition to supporting health, the half marathon also contributes directly to the growth of the local economy and tourism, driving inclusive economic opportunities, and accelerating a sustainable future for our customers, colleagues and the communities we serve, which are key pillars of Manulife’s Impact Agenda.”

Around 6,000 Cambodians joined nearly 2,000 runners from around the world. Heng Chivoan

HE Vath Chamroeun, the secretary-general of the Cambodian SEA Games Organising Committee (CAMSOC), also hailed the event’s importance in growing the Kingdom’s sports tourism sector.

“For the past 27 years, the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon has contributed to the growth of tourism, with sport increasingly important across the world for attracting tourists because sport events are also tourism events.

“We look forward to continued growth in the next five years, with the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon becoming an even greater a magnet to attract more sports tourists to Cambodia,” he said.

After receiving her silver medal, Teija Ruottinen said: “I feel really good. This was my first time taking part in this race. It was an honour to run by the temples, and I am proud of my achievement today.

“I love running, and I have been doing it for more than 20 years. Sport is the basis of a healthy lifestyle.

“The event was really well organised. I would like to thank the volunteers for taking good care of the runners, and I’d love to come back next year.”

Team Manulife raises funds for the Angkor Hospital for Children. Heng Chivoan

Local runner Iy Nara, 59, from Sihanoukville, spoke of his delight at taking part in his first Angkor Wat International Half Marathon.

“I love running, usually two to three times week. On average I run around 10 kilometres a day.

“This was the first time I participated in the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon, and I am really happy to have done so.

“I would like to have a running event like this twice a year to make people more aware of the importance of taking care of their health.

“When I was in my 40s, I was often sick, but after exercising regularly, my health improved,” he said.

Justin Helferich presents medals to the winners of the disabled women’s 10km run. Heng Chivoan

First place in the 10km race went to Chim Phan, who lost his lower leg to a landmine.

“I have always enjoyed participating in this running event. I take part in it every year and always get a good result – this year I came first again! I will be back next time.

“Even though I am disabled, I still love running because it keeps me fit.

“I would encourage everyone, regardless of ability, to not be discouraged from participating in sport, especially running, because it keeps us healthy,” said the 54-year-old from Kandal province.