Take in Cambodia's temples from a runner's perspective

11th Feb 2014

Sports-based tailor-made holidays are rising in popularity - with Cambodia an unlikely destination.

This enchanting south-east Asian country may not boast any world-famous footballers, cricketers or rugby players. It didn't even win a single medal at the 2012 Olympics.

But it is home to one of the most alluring, open-to-all long-distance races on the planet, allowing tourists to see one of the world's most hallowed cultural sites as part of the process.

The Angkor Wat Half Marathon draws runners from across the world to take part in the 13.1-mile (21km) event.

The event, which was launched nearly two decades ago, is being staged on December 6.

Last year, about 2,650 people enjoyed the privilege of running around the 900-year-old Unesco World Heritage Site, only a handful of them elite athletes, while a further 1,850 tackled the 10km (6.2 miles) course.

Press Association journalist James Edgar was among the competitors, enabling him to appreciate the stunning temple in a different light.

Edgar says the best thing about the marathon is the festival atmosphere, where you can trade encouragement and jokes with competitors from France, Hong Kong, America and elsewhere.

The flat course leads runners along well-maintained roads past some of the city's most iconic sites.

These include the massive Angkor Wat Temple complex, whose temples, says Edgar, "rise like crowns from the majestic Cambodian rainforest", Bayon Temple and Ta Keo Temple.

Money raised from the run is put towards creating prosthetic limbs.

Of course, many tourists would prefer to savour Cambodia's most famous archaeological park at a more sedate pace.

Edgar says wandering leisurely around Angkor Wat "feels like you are discovering it for the first time, and with structures nicknamed Tomb Raider Temple (Ta Prohm), it's easy to lose yourself in a fantasy world".

Bicycles abound here and a guided bike tour into the countryside comes highly recommended.

Copyright Press Association 2014


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