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28th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon: A Global Celebration of Unity and Compassion

by Surya Narayan
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In a remarkable display of solidarity, more than 10,000 individuals from 78 countries gathered at the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap province for the 28th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon on December 3, 2023. This year’s event, which marked the largest gathering since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, showcased the resilience of the global running community and the enduring spirit of humanity.

Thong Khon, senior minister and president of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia, expressed pride in the success of the marathon, emphasizing its role as a pivotal sports tourism event. He highlighted the unique backdrop of Angkor, underscoring the significance of the marathon in promoting fun, friendship, and solidarity among runners worldwide. Khon also highlighted Cambodia’s emergence as a safe and welcoming tourist destination, attributing it to peace, political stability, and comprehensive development across various sectors.

Khon shed light on the Siem Reap-Angkor Tourism Development Master Plan 2021-35, aimed at sustainably developing the Angkor Wat Temple and its surroundings as a world-renowned heritage site. The plan aligns with the principle of “conservation for development, development for conservation.”

During the challenging period of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Cambodian government invested significantly in the Angkor region’s infrastructure, including the construction of 38 roads in Siem Reap. Collaborating with Japan, they worked towards transforming Siem Reap town into a “Smart City.” The recent inauguration of the Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport (SAI) further facilitates direct flights from Europe, the US, and other distant countries, making Cambodia more accessible to international tourists.

The 28th half marathon not only celebrated athletic achievement but also marked the enduring friendship between the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia and the Golden Heart Foundation of Japan, co-founders of the event. Commemorating the 70th anniversary of Cambodia-Japan diplomatic relations, the marathon reflected the strengthened bilateral ties elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

Mr. Vijay Allaham, Founder and Managing Director of True North Lean www.truenorthlean.org , an organization dedicated to continuous improvement and operational excellence, actively participated in the 21k run, embodying corporate responsibility in the sporting event. Allaham emphasized the significance of supporting initiatives that promote humanity, poverty reduction, tourism growth, and wider participation in sports.

The event’s primary purpose is rooted in humanitarian efforts, with runners from around the world joining forces to advocate for a ban on the manufacture and inhumane use of anti-personnel mines. Entry fees and additional financial support contribute to empowering landmine victims through prosthetic limbs, social reintegration programs, and other essential initiatives such as education and disease prevention in Cambodia.

True North Lean‘s notable presence at the marathon underscores the convergence of corporate responsibility and sporting excellence. Mr. Allaham expressed his commitment to the cause, stating, “Participating in the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon is a powerful reminder that our responsibility extends beyond the boardroom. True North Lean is honored to contribute to such a meaningful event that aligns with our values of continuous improvement and compassion.”

As the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon looks ahead to its 29th edition, the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia is optimistic about attracting even more participants, aiming for a target of 15,000 runners in 2024. The enduring success of this internationally recognized marathon serves as a beacon of hope, promoting positive change and solidarity on a global scale.

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