SIEM REAP (Khmer Times) – Registration for the second annual Angkor Empire Marathon closed this Sunday with registration numbers running about the same as last year.
This year marks only the second time Cambodia will host a full 42 km marathon. Its location, at Angkor Wat – the largest religious monument in the world and Asia’s second most visited tourist destination – makes it an attractive event for runners willing to travel for a race with a good view.
About 100 countries around the world stage full marathons. Many serious athletes combine a race with a visit to a foreign country for a destination holiday and a bout of exercise.
Craig Lovelock, a 40-year-old UK native, hopes to run 52 worldwide marathons in 52 weeks for a Sussex charity. He will begin the Southeast Asia leg of the challenge with the Angkor Empire Marathon this week before continuing on to marathons in Kuching, Borneo and Bangkok, Thailand.
Even North Korea hosts an annual marathon in Pyongyang that is open to international runners.
Some of the most popular destination marathons, like the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris and the Virgin Money London Marathon, run courses past the cities’ greatest sites.
The Angkor Route
The Angkor Empire Marathon route has been tweaked slightly from last year. But it still starts and finishes at Angkor Wat and takes runners through the mazes of the Angkor Archaeological Park, past some of its most spectacular temples and all the way to Preah Prom Rath pagoda, on the river near Pub Street.
Some of the largest marathons, such as those in Paris and London, have 35,000 to 40,000 participants each year. Last year’s inaugural Angkor Empire Marathon had about 2,200 runners from 42 countries. This year, 2,175 participants from 48 countries have signed up.
Organizers had hoped to have 3,000 sign-ups this year. A spokesperson for Cambodia Events Organizer Co. said registration officially closed July 25. But they plan to re-open registration for anyone interested in the 3k race.
Low participation numbers this year may be due to the overall decrease in Southeast Asia tourism from Europe as a result of the drop in value of the euro.
The Angkor Wat International Half Marathon takes place on Dec. 6, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Last year, 7,871 people signed up to participate.
The annual half marathon in December is an internationally recognized charity for victims of anti-personnel mines in Cambodia. The Angkor Empire Marathon benefits the Angkor Hospital for Children, Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital and the Cambodian Red Cross.