The 22nd running of the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon and other added attractions around the sprawling World Heritage Site in Siem Reap this Sunday is set to topple previous records with the organisers anticipating the total entries to get close to or even surpass the 10,000 mark in the wake of an uptake of participants from the US, UK and France this year.
There has been an unprecedented rush of excitement both among overseas runners and locals for the Kingdom's most popular and truly global sporting event which offers no purse but tons of pride as a run for the most charitable causes at the height of the tourist season.
The traditional half marathon day card includes a 10km run for men and women along with a 3km fun run for people of all ages and athletics abilities.
Less than 250 runners from 14 countries lined up for the inaugural run in 1996 but that number reached a staggering 9,000 last year, boosting expectations of a five-figure splash this year, with 85 nations represented from all continents.
Jointly organised by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, in association with several government agencies and sports bodies, the technical and supervisory aspects of the event will be handled by the Cambodia Events Management Group under the watch of the Angkor Wat Marathon Executive Committee.
Over the last 20 years, the event has raised tens of thousands of dollars for social and charitable causes and the introduction of a pledge system a few years ago has resulted in more donations.
The proceeds of this run will go to charitable institutions like the Cambodian Red Cross and CMAC, an organisation dedicated to clearing of landmines. The other beneficiaries include NGOs pursuing social causes and Kantha Bopha Children's Hospital.
"Nowhere in the world could runners soak up the experience of being in the middle of such spectacular ancient monuments, sites and scenic beauty. We would like to keep enhancing this unique experience" Secretary-General of NOCC Vath Chamroeun told The Post.
But in light of growing numbers, big fields could also prove a threat to these invaluable assets. "We need to take a fresh look at the running route depending on how this year's event will turn out with nearly 10,000 expected," Chamroeun said.
There has been a big increase in the number of participants from Great Britain, the US and France this year, forcing the organisers to review security aspects.
"These three countries have been targets of attack this year. There are no specific threats but as abundance of caution we are beefing up security at this year's event," the NOCC secretary-general said.
"We have also realised the importance of ensuring safety for the runners and also their health care and needs while laying greater emphasis on the environmental aspects" he added.