The stunning temple complex of Angkor Wat is a pretty special place to complete a first half marathon. The races (21.1k, 10k, 3k) started shortly after sunrise with a buzzing mix of amateur and professional runners from around the world. There is also a wheelchair and artificial limbs race, particularly for those Cambodians who have been injured by land mines and funds raised from entry fees go to support land mine survivors in Cambodia. This was the 18th time the race has been held at the UNESCO World Heritage site with a record number of approximately 7,580 participants. Unfortunately, the website is quite basic but the link is here and also here for a full marathon which will be run for the first time next year. Results from this year’s race on December 1st can be found here.
Although I had felt nervous earlier in the week, by the time the gun went and the massive crowd started shifting forward, I was feeling fairly relaxed and ready to just try my best to run at the pace I hoped I was capable of. My little, lime green Garmin forerunnner 10 has been indispensable both for training and at the race itself. The first two kilometers were incredible crowded and instead of worrying about going too fast I was trying my best to weave in an out of all the people so that I didn’t end up going too slowly! Luckily, I managed to do the first kilometer in 4:55 despite the crowds. After that I tried to stick with a pace between 4:55 and 5:10 for the rest of the way. I stopped four times for a sip of water where I actually walked so that I could get the water down and avoid spilling on my ipod, whose predecessor I had managed to kill in Luang Prabang! The temperature was in the low 20s (centigrade) and about 60% humidity.
Just as the race started to feel more grueling, all the beautiful temples began to appear. The Bayon Temple, pictured above and below, with its 216 massive faces of Avalokiteshvara is one of my favorites. There is nothing quite like running through the narrow Angkor Tom gate built in the 12th century and having to squeeze past a real elephant passing through with his mahout – there was no way I was going to stop and wait at that stage in the race! In the final kilometer, the run finishes alongside the massive moat which surrounds Angkor Wat itself. With a final push I managed the last kilometer in 4:28. I was incredibly elated with my time of 1 hour 45 minutes and 57 seconds for a first half marathon. In the end I came 56th (according to gun time and 49th according to chip) out of 1152 women. My husband followed with a very respectable 1hour 54 time.
The other great news is that with the help of friends and family we have managed to raise just over £2,000 for the Disasters Emergency Committee which will be using the money for its relief work to help the people of the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan. If anyone else would like to contribute please go to: http://www.justgiving.com/Cravens
Below are pictures from this trip where we went to some of the more obscure temples. For my better pictures of the main temples from last year please go here.