DECEMBER is a big sporting month in the Siem Reap area, adding some new active attractions to those of the historic temples of Angkor Wat which bring in so much tourist traffic from the region and overseas.
While the Johnnie Walker Cambodian Open gets under way on December 9, a few days before is the 15th running of the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon on Sunday, December 5.
It attracts not only the local runners and some relaxed joggers, but as it keeps growing draws serious athletes from all over the world.
Last year, 3,490 athletes from 47 countries took part, running, jogging, ambling around the ancient Angkorian temple complex.
“We expect about 4,000 runners this year,” said Muy Lath from the marathon’s steering committee. “About half of those will be from Cambodia.”
Five races are scheduled; a 21-kilometre half-marathon, a 21-kilometre wheelchair race, a 10-kilometre road race, a 10-kilometre artificial leg race and a three-kilometre family race.
Funds raised go to the Japanese NGO Hearts of Gold, which participates in the management of the marathon, as well as the Cambodian Red Cross and a number of other organisations dedicated to supporting the disabled in Cambodia.
Also in sporting mode the fifth Angkor Wat Bike Race and Ride, organised in cooperation with the marathon and staged by the NGO Village Focus Cambodia. It will be held the previous day, Saturday, December 4, and hopes to attract 300 to 350 participants.
There will be a 30-kilometre race and a 100-metre race, as well as a 12-kilometre fun ride.
Another “unofficial” activity scheduled for the day is the now renowned cyclo race, born out of the dreams of a group of Peace Corp Volunteers in 2007, which has now become a central feature of the day.