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Angkor Wat International Half Marathon 2013

Posted by on 4. December 2013

With a Route Like This, 21K is not Enough

Distance: 21.1K

Date: December 1, 2013

Place: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap Cambodia

Read about:

“Running in Angkor Wat felt like running through time while appreciating the lush green forest, the ancient temple and throngs of children cheering you and giving you high fives along the route.

Angkor Wat International Half Marathon

The glory of the Khmer Empire still shines today via the temples of Angkor Wat

This is my 3rd trip in Angkor Wat and my nth one in Cambodia since we have a factory in Cambodia.  I can say that Cambodia has grown fast over the last five years and will continue to grow in the years to come.  I’ve always been amazed with Angkor Wat, which is a testament to the glorious past of the Khmer Empire in the 9th to 12th century.  One would be amazed at how intricate they are with the temples and that the 12th century infrastructure has stayed in its natural form and has co-existed with nature to this very day.  This was one of the reason why I signed up for the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon as early as June of this year.  It would be really exciting to see the temples by foot and have a good work out at the same time.  Since I was able to book everything early, I was able to get good rates on my flight. As for our Hotel, we booked at Cockatoo Nature Resort (website) which is partly owned by a Filipino.  It’s a really peaceful haven that’s a short walk away from the old market and pub street with really comfortable rooms and really courteous staff.  All I can say was that we were well taken cared of including all our tour needs.

Place of Residence: Cockatoo Nature Resort

The Tour Before The Run

2 Days Worth of Touring at Cambodia

I don’t usually exhaust myself before a run, more so, a half marathon but this is Angkor Wat so I wouldn’t miss the chance to see Angkor Wat yet again. Cockatoo was kind enough to arrange everything and we had a very jolly Cambodia Tuktuk driver too.  First day was to visit Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm and have a sunset view at Pre Rup for the day tour.  Angkor Wat is really one of the top heritage attractions in the World.  Bayon was huge with an array of 4-faced Buddha to appreciate.  Ta Prohm  was always my favorite with the fusion of nature and ancient structures with the strangling fig tree and the temple relics combined.  The night was festive that had us watching an acrobatic display merged into a story at the Cambodian Circus and dinner at the very lively Pub Street.  The next day had us visiting Bantaey Srey, which is around 45 kilometers from Siem Reap but was worth the journey with the intricate carvings as part of the pillars of the structures. We were also able to visit other Structures like Bantaey Samre, Preah Khan, Ta Keo among others with each having a unique feature.  To cap the second day of the tour, we watched a cultural show that also had buffet dinner featuring Cambodian Cuisine.

Race Route and Elevation Profile

Race Route and Elevation Profile powered by Suunto Movescount

Race starts in front of Angkor Wat Temple and proceeds to the entrance of Angkor for the u-turn at the 3.5 kilometer mark.  The race goes back to the road around Angkor Wat at the 5 kilometer mark and proceeds to the forested area for the next 5 kilometers with a view of Bantaey Kdei and Sarah Srang.  The race goes around the perimeter of Ta Prohm and passes through Ta Keo before entering the North Gate of Angkor Thom at the 15 kilometer mark which passes through the Terraces of the Leper King and Elephants before looping around the Bayon Temple and exiting the South Gate of Angkor Thom area and proceeds to the finish at Angkor Wat.  The elevation is relatively flat though there are some ascent along the way.
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The Race

This is a really scenic 21.1K.

The race starts at 6:30 am and fortunately for us sunrise was around 6:10 am so seeing the Angkor Wat sunrise was how we were welcomed in the run.  The race had 7500++ participants so it was a really crowded starting line.  Since we were at the back of the coral, we started at around 3-4 minutes from the start of the race.  The strategy was to do a 4:1 race interval.  With not much warm up and missing my weekday runs, I started rusty with stiff legs.  I started doing the first kilometer without the walk part but it didn’t feel right so went on with the 4:1 run walk interval from then on.  The first 5 kilometers was a straight loop going to the entrance of Angkor area and back.  The good part was the stiffness of my legs was slowly going away as I warmed up in this area and it was refreshing to see the trees lined up at this areas.

Ancient Temples on the Route

As we made our turn back to the main road at the 5th kilometer, it was a scenic view of the Lake surrounding Angkor Wat. The race then proceeds to the forested area of which had kids lined up along the route cheering you, running with you and giving high fives.  I was warmed up and enjoying my run and was doing the run intervals at a very good pace.  It was a run-walk-picture pace.  There were also a lot of hydration along the area and it was just visually refreshing going along the route.

The view made the run visually refreshing

By the 10th kilometer, I was already in the perimeter of Ta Prohm and you can see the strangling fig trees along its fences as well as other temples in the route.  It was also nice to see runners from all regions including the Philippines having fun, enjoying the route and interacting with the kids watching.

Entering Angkor Thom North Gate at KM 15

At Kilometer 15, it was time to enter Angkor Thom area which was the most scenic part of the race in terms of temples passing through the terraces of the Leper King and Elephants as well as the huge Bayon temple.  The visual enticement made the running easier in this area plus the asphalted roads and the soil made each stride softer on the feet the whole race.  I could stay here forever and run loops but unfortunately, this race had a cutoff so proceeded to the South Gate Exit.

Angkor Thom area had as treated to the Terraces of Leper King and Elephants as well as the Bayon Temple.

It was the last 3 kilometers of the race and I feel I still wanted to run more as the view was just breathtaking and I still felt fresh at this point coming from the well paced 4:1 run walk intervals and the scenic backdrop.

I usually count down the last few kilometers of a race but for this one, I felt an adventure ending and it was still far from cutoff though my camera has also been fully drained at this point.  The rest of the way was also a unique experience as we had monkeys and elephants beside us in the road.  I enjoyed the last few more kilometers of the race before crossing the finished line still far from the 3 hours cutoff.

Approaching the finish line

As I crossed the finish line, I can say I really had fun.  I run a consistent pace and still was able to finish strong.  With a route like this, I could go for a few more kilometers just to enjoy the site. I’m ticking off running in an Angkor Wat in my bucket list. I guess words are not enough to describe how much I enjoyed this race and I highly recommend people to try out this course as this has the best course so far from all the races I’ve joined.

I would like to thank my sponsor (pun intended) as I got a sponsor branded drink after the race.

Also, Dans and Specialized Concept Store lent me a GoPro Hero 3+ for the run and here’s a 30 minute video done by someone new in making videos but I have to give credit to the clear and crisp quality of GoPro Hero 3+ so I hope you can enjoy the run too via this video.

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