Steady evening drizzle failed to dampen the enthusiasm of over 600 runners of all ages and abilities who took part in the country’s first ever Angkor City Night Run in Siem Reap on Sunday, setting the pace for a similar twilight treat for both locals and tourists on the eve of the upcoming New Year.
The 5km fun run began and ended in one of the city’s most famous areas, Pub Street, well known for its bustling nightlife of music, entertainment and international cuisine.
The runners warmed up with their glowsticks and bracelets to toe tapping music in front of a specially built stage on the busy street before coming under a gun start from Siem Reap’s Governor Khim Bunsong at the stroke of 7pm.
After completing a running course along the riverside well within an hour, it was music and dancing once again deep into the night. There were no prizes to be won and the winner was not even officially named, but in the true spirit of the event, the participants were happy to be given a chance for at least 10 of them to win several attractive items in a lucky draw.
The first of its kind night run served the twin purposes of raising funds for the local children’s hospital, while at the same time promoting sports tourism.
Marking the conclusion of the traditional Water Festival and Full Moon Day, the event was jointly organised by the Ministry of Tourism, Siem Reap Authority, Cambodia Events Organizer and the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia.
“We were greatly encouraged by the turnout despite rainy conditions. It was indeed heartening to see hundreds of locals take part. It was also noteworthy that many of the tourists jointed in.
“Pub Street has had a culture of its own for decades and there is no better place to hold a sports tourism initiative like this,” said NOCC Secretary-General Vath Chamroeun, who joined the chorus of cheering voices welcoming the runners back after the finish.
The Cambodian Marathon Committee will study the feasibility of holding such events in other major cities like Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kampot and Sihanoukville.