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The 23rd Angkor Wat International Half Marathon last Sunday became a huge opportunity for people from different countries to recognise and celebrate the Angkor Archaeological Park, as well as health and wellness. Manulife Cambodia, the marathon’s principal sponsor, reached its objective to promote healthy lifestyle and tourism in the most exciting and fun way, writes Say Tola.

More than 10,500 runners from 78 countries descended into the resort town of Siem Reap last weekend for the 23rd edition of the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon. The streets were closed, and everyone was loudly cheering for the men and women racing through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Angkor Archaeological Park.

Participants ran through 3-kilometer, 10-kilometer and 21-kilometer races, all giving their best as they sprinted around the kingdom’s most beautiful temples. There was a race for the disabled as well.

After joining the 10-kilometer race, Manulife President and CEO Roy Gori expressed his company’s aim to support the wellbeing of the local community through the international marathon.

“Aligned with our global goals, this sponsorship is really to help people live healthier and better lives. At the same time, we also generate donations to support those who are less fortunate. It is not just a charitable effort on our part, it is our ambition to help people have better lives,” Roy Gori said. Manulife Cambodia, the first international life insurance company in the country, is the principal sponsor of the marathon. It has been so since 2015.

This year, with the support of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, Manulife fundraised over USD 70,000 from its employees globally and donated to the Angkor Hospital for Children.

Angkor Hospital for Children’s director, Ngoun Chanpheaktra, shared that the support from Manulife Cambodia since 2015 has saved the lives of thousands of children.

“We could not think of our hospital operation if there is no fund to support. On behalf of the staff, I am grateful and thankful to Manulife for strongly supporting the lives and development of Cambodian children. I also welcome other donors to contribute to this hospital.”

Robert Elliott, the General Manager of Manulife Cambodia, added that the health and wellness of Cambodians are the crucial considerations Manulife takes in all its endeavours. He also emphasised how running improves health.

But aside from providing people ways to ensure wholesome and fit lifestyles, it is also the objective of the life insurance institution to contribute to the overall safety of Cambodian children. In fact, it has been very active in donating helmets to school- children in several schools around Cambodia for the past years.

“We donated over 6000 helmets to children, parents and teachers for them to be aware of their own safety. With the economic growth comes the rise in the number of cars and motorcycles in the road, so the safety of our children is really crucial,” noted Robert Elliott, adding that over 600 bicycles have also been handed to underprivileged students in Cambodia.

The international half marathon on December 2 saw the triumph of French runner Valentin Cuzzucoli and Japan’s Daisuke Yamauchi, who won first and second places respectively for the men’s category on the 21-kilometer race.

In the women’s half marathon race, Australia’s Rose Bec grabbed the top spot; followed by Maire Nic Amhlaoibh of Singapore.

Cambodia’s very own Van Pheara and Chea Sampors nabbed the first and second places in the men’s 10-kilometer race.

But the fun and excitement in Siem Reap started even before the marathon. Thousands of people were already flocking into the city and joined ManulifeMove Fair 2018.

Held at the Royal Lotus Garden from November 30, the fair involved games and fitness activities like zumba and yoga, and the exceptional performance from the Phare Circus.

Manulife Cambodia foresees bigger and better international half marathons in the comings years, as well as bigger charity efforts for the country’s disadvantaged citizens.

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