The leaders of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) plan to turn the Phnom Penh International Half Marathon, a 21km race, into a full 42km marathon. They will use the event to promote the capital to the world, just as London and New York have done with their respective marathons.

NOCC president Thong Khon, who is also the tourism minister, said before the race on Sunday morning: “I warmly welcome the presence of the national and international athletes who have chosen to support the sports movement in such large numbers. Please use the race to honour the Queen Mother. Run for humanity, run for a clean city and run for the 2023 SEA Games!”

Although no specific date has been set, the success of the 10th Phnom Penh International Half Marathon 2022, which began in front of the Royal Palace on June 19, has given the NOCC confidence that the Phnom Penh Marathon will be held soon.

Vath Chamroeun, secretary-general of the committee, said after the finish of the race: “The resumption of the Phnom Penh International Half Marathon this morning saw many crowds and an atmosphere which reflected the peace and safety of the Kingdom. The success of the event was largely due to the effective vaccination campaign which allowed the reopening of Cambodia.”

“This is the 10th anniversary of the event and we had over 3,000 registered competitors. In actual fact, there were more than 5,000 running today, as many people had not registered but wanted to join in and show their support,” he added.

According to official figures, the number of registered participants was 3,621, including 3,236 domestic and 385 foreign athletes. Most of the foreign entrants are residents of the Kingdom, with about 10 per cent travelling from abroad. They competed in 21km, 10km and 3km events, with the whole event going smoothly. The well run contest lent the organizers confidence that it would be possible to transform it into a full marathon as early as next year.

As head of the organising committee, Chamroeun confirmed: “With the assistance of the authorities in coordinating some road closures and watching the course, we ran a safe, incident free series of races. There were no problems at all, and we achieved our goals in terms of cleanliness and organisation. Therefore, we expect that – on the recommendation of tourism minister Thong Khon – we will turn it into a full 42km Phnom Penh Marathon.”

“We will see if it is possible to do it ahead of next year’s event. We want to promote Phnom Penh in the same way the Paris Marathon, the Boston Marathon and the New York Marathon do for their cities,” he added.

Although the half marathon does not focus on results, the Cambodian SEA Games Organizing Committee (CAMSOC) used the event to promote sports to the Cambodian public, in preparation for the Kingdom’s hosting of the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games next year, for the first time in its history.

“The organisation of the half marathon was good preparation for the SEA Games and ASEAN Para Games. We have used this event as another inspirational step on our journey to the historic events of 2023,” said Chamroeun.