The Eighth Phnom Penh International Half Marathon will come under the starter’s orders in front of the Royal Palace on the morning of June 17, with the running route completely altered to avoid the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge connecting the capital with the Chroy Changvar Peninsula, which is off limits due to on-going renovations.
Up to 4,000 runners are expected to take part in the showpiece event and two other added attractions, the 10km run for men and women and a 3km run for all ages and athletic abilities, The half-marathoners will now go through a lot more city locations while circling Diamond Island (Koh Pich) for the first time.
The 21 km Phnom Penh run, which is one of the five major sports tourism events in the national calendar, will support the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals and other charitable causes while commemorating the birthday of Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk.
Jointly organised by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and the Ministry of Tourism, in conjunction with Khmer Athletics Federation and several federal and private agencies, the logistics will be entirely handled by the Cambodia Events Organizer.
Cambodia Beer will be the main sponsors with Smart Axiata and National Sport Lottery stepping in as Gold sponsors.
“This is a major sports tourism initiative and benefits the city in many ways. I hope the municipal authorities work closely with us to elevate this very important event in our annual calendar” secretary-general of NOCC Vath Chamroeun told The Post.
“In line with yearly progression, We expect the total number of entries to increase by between 10 and 15 percent. We will actively consider upgrading the event to a full marathon in the near future so that Phnom Penh can be counted among major cities in the world holding these popular runs,” he said.
“The participants were especially happy with the serenity and traffic-free zone that the other side of the river in the Chroy Changvar Peninsula offered last year. But unfortunately, due to the renovation work on this famous bridge, we had to give up that portion of the route,” noted Sam Phalla, CEO of Cambodia Events Organizer.
“We had to design a different route and the farthest we could go at the north end of the city was a stretch under that bridge turning around to the Preah Sisowath Quay that will lead to Koh Pich,” Phalla said.
“We hope early morning traffic will be light since the runners will have to go through some busier parts of the city like the Samdech Sothearos Boulevard past Aeon Mall. For us, the safety of the runners is paramount. That is why we are closely coordinating with law enforcement to regulate traffic,” he said;
Rio Olympics men’s marathon pick for Cambodia Neko Hiroshi won the men’s run last year, while Veronique Messina of France recorded her third win in four years.