With the 8th Phnom Penh International Half Marathon fast closing in, organisers have sought to encourage amateur runners and professional athletes to register ahead of Sunday’s event.
The annual race coincides with the celebration of the Birthday of Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk, in conjunction with World Environment Day, as well as to commemorate the 124th Olympic Day.
A 10-kilometre run and a 3-kilometre fun run are also on offer for those not yet ready to tackle the longer 21-kilometre half marathon distance. The races begin at 6:00 am, with all runners requested to arrive at The Royal Palace starting line by 5:00 am.
The event, organised by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and Cambodia Events Organizer and with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, will raise money for the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospitals.
Organisers speaking at yesterday’s press conference said they anticipate an improvement over last years’ 5352 professional and amateur runners hailing from 33 countries.
Vath Chamroeun, secretary general at the NOCC, said that over 3,000 runners, including 618 from 39 countries, had registered so far. The NOCC had been mulling an upgrade of this year’s event to a full 42-kilometre marathon but their plans have since failed to materialise. The Cambodian capital does not currently hold a full 42-kilometer marathon although Siem Reap has been hosting the Angkor Empire Full & Half Marathon since 2013.
In last year’s race, Kuniaki Takizaki, Ma Viro, and Kang Thoeun secured an All-Cambodian podium in the men’s event.
Japanese-born Cambodian long distance runner Takizaki, part of the kingdom’s six-strong Rio 2016 Olympic Games squad, snatched a second consecutive gold medal with a time of 1 hour, 16 minutes and 44 seconds. Famed distance athlete Viro came in second with a 1:21:37 finish. An all-Cambodian podium was delivered after Kang Thoeun came in third with time of 1:22:57.
In the women’s main event, Frenchwoman Veronique Messina regained her title as fastest woman crossing the line with a time of 1:36:11 seconds a full eight minutes’ clear of closest challenger Nadia Heraschenko.