Cambodia’s first and currently only female marathon runner Ly Nary successfully completed the New York City Marathon Sunday – arriving at the finish line as the second fastest runner from Southeast Asia.
The 38-year-old athlete finished the 42-kilometer race in 3 hours and 16 minutes, arriving in 41st place in her age group in a race that had 44,829 finishers. As the only athlete representing Cambodia in the marathon, she was faster than all the runners from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar, according to the New York City Marathon website.
Only 28-year-old Rio De La Cruz from the Philippines, one of 131 Filipinos in the race, ended in front of Ly Nary with a time of 3 hours dead.
“I’m happy,” Ly Nary said by telephone from New York, whilst admitting that she endured hardship over the last mile. “This is my new record, my personal best.”
Ly Nary cut 18 minutes from her running time after attending a ten-week high-altitude training camp for runners in Kenya, where she was the first Cambodian participant. She claimed she could really concentrate on her preparations in the village where she stayed, and where 40 percent of the local residents are runners. Indeed, Nary revealed that she had learned a lot from running with the African athletes, who are among the best in the world. “We became friends,” Nary said. “They called me sister.”
In the future, Ly Nary said she would like to find sponsors to bring a team of about 12 Cambodian runners to the training camp in Kenya. She is set to return to the Kingdom on November 16 and will participate in the Angkor Wat Half Marathon in Siem Reap on December 5.
She is also hoping to represent Cambodia at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.