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Angkor Wat half marathon course returns

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China’s Qi Bian stands on the podium after winning the 2017 Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. Sreng Meng Srun

Angkor Wat half marathon course returns

The 23nd running of the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon and other supporting attractions around the sprawling World Heritage site in Siem Reap take place this Sunday.

The event is set to match or even better the magical 11,000 mark recorded in the previous edition as the organisers restored the traditional running route after it was drastically altered last year due to the government’s religious function attended by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Despite an unprecedented rush of excitement both among overseas runners and locals, hundreds were disappointed that the altered route deprived them of soaking up the unique experience of the temple complex, though they were happy to go through some of the inner city locations.

The Kingdom’s most popular and truly global event offers no purse but tonnes of pride as a run for the most charitable causes at the height of the tourist season.

The proceeds from this run will go to charitable institutions like the Cambodian Red Cross and CMAC, an organization dedicated to clearing of landmines. The other beneficiaries include NGOs pursuing social causes and the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals.

“Nowhere in the world could runners find a course in the middle of such spectacular ancient monuments, sites and scenic beauty."

“We would like to keep enhancing this unique experience” Secretary General of National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) Vath Chamroeun told The Post.

“We were forced by the circumstances last year to divert the route keeping in mind the security of that very significant religious ceremony attended by the Prime Minister and the presence of hundreds of monks and devotees,” he said adding that “This year everything is back to normal.”

Runners from 84 nations

The traditional half marathon day card includes a 10km run for men and women along with a 3km fun run for people of all ages and athletic abilities.

Less than 250 runners from 14 countries lined up for the inaugural run in 1996 but that number reached a staggering 9,000 in 2016 and shot past the five figure mark last year with 85 nations represented from all continents.

Jointly organised by the NOCC in association with several government agencies and sports bodies, the technical and supervisory aspects of the event will be handled by the Cambodia Events Management Group under the watch of the Angkor Wat Marathon Executive Committee.

Over the past 23 years the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars for social and charitable causes.

China’s Qi Bian powered his way to victory ahead of Cambodia’s seasoned campaigners Takizaki Kuniaki, more famously known as Neko Hiroshi, and Ma Viro last year.

Senior physiotherapist and passionate distance runner from Ireland Nic Amhlaoibh Maire, who relocated to Singapore three years ago, scored a memorable win by beating previous winner Veronique Messina of France in the women’s event.