The seventh running of the Phnom Penh International Half Marathon on June 18, commemorating Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk’s birthday, could well be a tipping point towards the capital holding its inaugural full marathon next year.
Up to 5,000 runners are likely to take part in the showpiece event and two other added attractions, the 10km run for men and women and a 3km fun run for all ages and athletic abilities, with the proceeds supporting the Kantha Bopha Children’s hospitals and other charitable causes.
“It is a very pleasant coincidence this year that the half marathon is on the same day as the Queen Mother’s birthday.
This is a major sports tourism initiative and benefits the city in many ways,” the secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, Vath Chamroeun, said on the sidelines of a press conference yesterday, announcing the charity run “I hope the municipal authorities work closely with us to elevate this very important event in the national calendar.”
“So far up to 1,000 runners have registered, of which 200, mostly for the 21km run, are foreigners. In keeping with the yearly progression, we expect the total number of entries to increase by between 10 and 15 per cent.
“At the end of this run we will actively consider upgrading the next year’s event to a full marathon so that Phnom Penh can be among major cities in the world holding an annual 42km run,” Chamroeun added.
While overseas participation drawn from 34 countries showed a marked increase on last year, the total number of participants also touched a new high, heightening optimism that the numbers could be even bigger this year.
“Increase in numbers, especially overseas runners, over the years has been a positive sign. The new route that we introduced in 2015 that took the runners across the river twice has gone down very well with the participants,” Chamroeun noted.
Like last year’s route, the runners will go past the Cambodia-Japan Friendship Bridge for the first time on their way up. They then turn back towards the finish line in front of the Royal Palace over the Cambodia-China Friendship Bridge.