More than 6,000 runners gathered in Siem Reap yesterday to compete in the 17th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon, which saw Cambodians place first in the 10 km race and third in the 21 km half marathon.
The event, which takes place every year in the Angkor Wat temple complex, was launched in 1996 as a means of raising money to support landmine victims and has grown in the number of nationalities and participants over the years.
This year, more than 4,000 foreigners and 2,000 Cambodians participated in three events: the half marathon, or 21-km race; the 10-km; and the 3-km family run; as well as races for wheelchair users and runners with artificial limbs.
The event is organized by the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia (NOCC) and the Khmer Amateur Athletics Federation (KAAF) with the help of several charities and other sponsors. Minister of Tourism Thong Khon set the competitors in motion at 6:40 a.m.
As the sun climbed above the temples and the temperature rose, competitors in the 10-km race began crossing the finish line in what was to be quite a successful morning for Cambodian athletes.
Cambodian Olympian Kieng Samon finished first with a time of 37 minutes, 38 seconds. Ireland’s Derick Rien and Cambodia’s Kong Thoeun claimed the second and third places, respectively.
In the men’s 21 km, Australia’s Joji Mori placed first with a time of just over 1 hour, 14 minutes. Germany’s Tolyer Arnold finished second with just over 1 hour, 17 minutes. And Cambodia’s Ma Viro took third spot with just over 1 hour, 20 minutes.
The women’s 21-km was awarded for a second time to Sweden’s Jenny Lundgren, who finished in just over 1 hour, 25 minutes.
The races started early to avoid the heat, but as the morning went on, the runners felt the affects of the sun.
“It’s super flat, as flat as can be,” said Jason Judd, senior director of the non-profit group Digital Divide Data, who ran the half-marathon and finished in 1 hour, 30 minutes. “So you would think you would come in fast, but the heat is awful.”
A few competitors somehow managed to complete shorter races inside giant teddy bear and monkey costumes.
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