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Ultra Trail a boost to tourism

Ismail Vorajee / Khmer Times Share:
More than 500 runners participated in the Second Ultra Trail d’Angkor on Friday morning. KT / Yeun Punlue

More than 500 athletes and runners hailing from 37 countries were present at the starting line for the Second Ultra Trail d’Angkor, a punishing 128-kilometer race through and around Siem Reap’s ancient temple complex.
Beginning in the early hours of Friday morning and setting off from Angkor Thom – Elephant Terrace, Antoine Guillon was the first across the finish line in the full 128-kilometer race, a full 12 hours, 21 minutes and 56 seconds later. He was followed by Tran Quang who snatched second place on the podium and third-placed Christophe Le Saux.
There were also three shorter races flagging off in the early hours of Saturday morning and were available to runners not up to the task of the full 128 kilometers. These included a 64-kilometer race, a 32-kilometer Nordic walk, a 32 kilometer Angkor Trail run and a great humanitarian walk of 8 kilometers – all of which saw participants crisscross jungles, rice fields, villages and many, many temples.
Joining a welcoming party to greet some of the athletes at the finish line, Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and chairman of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, said he was thankful for events such as the Ultra Trail in fostering Cambodia’s nascent sports tourism sector and bringing value to the economy.
“The second year of events at the Ultra Trail d’Angkor was really a remarkable success. Especially in terms of international visitors and also Cambodians themselves,” he said.
“This event boosts the tourism sector in Cambodia which is an important part of our strategy. I hope events like these can enhance the attraction of tourists to visit Cambodia more than they already do.”
“In addition, raising funds for charity is always a key part of these events,” he added.
The minister said he hoped the 2018 edition would see the race break the 1,000-participant barrier.
This year saw a nearly 50 percent increase in competitors compared with the previous inaugural year.
Marlieke Janssen was glowing in her praise of the run and said she was ready for next year.
“Fantastic race! Absolutely amazing to run through the villages, rice fields and temples. Organization was perfect; the route was clearly marked and there were plenty of marshals along the course. Can’t wait till next year,” she said in reference to the 32-kilometer race.
In the inaugural run in 2016, Malaysia’s Lim Soh clocked in 18 hours 34 minutes and 56 seconds in the men’s event, while Thai competitor Boonthan Suksodkeaw crossed the line in 21 hours 27 minutes and 57 seconds in the women’s equivalent.

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