BIG changes are planned for this year’s bike marathon organised by former Australian iron man, 57-year-old Norm Clark, on behalf of the Siem Reap NGO Kampuchea House.
The marathon itself has been extended in duration.
It will be held in September and will span two countries – Vietnam and Cambodia – rather than just Cambodia as in earlier events.
A second mini-marathon has also been scheduled for May or June.
Record numbers of riders have prompted the reorganisation of the marathon, which has come a long way since 2008, when two riders took part.
Last year it had increased to 10 riders, who raised a whopping $56,000.
In 2010 the marathon started in Siem Reap, weaving its way through Cambodia for a stamina-testing 1200-kilometre trek.
This year, Clark said the trip was planned to start at Da Nang in Vietnam before heading down the coast and crossing the Cambodian border.
The marathon will be extended to 10 days because of the vigorous course spanning two countries.
“Last year, some days we had eight to nine hours riding,” he said. “Other days we had four hours. Many
of the people were quite surprised how tough it was with the heat and roads. Last year we used 1500 litres of water in eight days, and that didn’t include water riders bought themselves.”
Clark said the shorter trip, for three or four days, was being organised for May or June this year because several people last year requested a less challenging journey. The trip will encompass the temples around the Angkor area, plus further north near the Cambodian-Thai border.
Clark said the riders of the longer marathon must raise $3000 to participate, while riders of the shorter marathon will need to raise $2000. Last year one rider raised $10,000 which included a $5000 sponsorship from JB Hi-Fi, a major Australian electronic goods retailer.
“This year we are hoping for more corporate sponsors,” Clark said.
Money raised during the bike trips this year will be spent upgrading many of Kampuchea House’s amenities.