The 6th Sihanoukville-Angkor Premium Beer International Half Marathon will hit the road on Sunday, March 5, on a route offering more sea breeze over longer stretches of shoreline following the removal of several barriers along beach fronts in the wake of the Sea Festival at the end of last year.
A refreshing change for the half-marathoners is the lowering of barriers along the Independence Beach section of the road that was blocking the sea view, enabling the runners to soak up the scenic beauty and enjoy the breeze.
Similar measures have also been taken on many other locations en route.
While the organisers are hoping for a bigger turnout this year, the participation numbers are likely to remain the same as the previous edition that saw close to 150 overseas runners joining 1,200 locals and expats for the 21km charity run and other attractions like the men’s and women’s 10km and 3km fun run for all ages and athletic abilities.
“Removing the blockade of the sea view on many beach fronts during the Sea Festival has created a better environment for the runners. I strongly feel that once the word spreads about this new experience we can expect more overseas and local runners,” secretary-general of the National Olympic Committee Vath Chamroeun told The Post yesterday.
While Sihanoukville as a tourist hotspot continues to attract visitors in great numbers, the patronage for the half marathon has been pegged at the same levels for the past couple of years, unlike the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap versions, which have regularly shown increased participation from overseas runners.
One of the reasons as to why foreigners had been some what put off is the non-availability of direct international flights to the Sihanoukville, which inevitably means additional costs and extra travel.
The current domestic scheduling of flights has not been convenient either.
“The government is treating this as a priority and working with the private sector to establish this connectivity. The upgrading of the existing airport will commence next year,’’ Chamroeun said.
The runners in the 21km half marathon will have a 6am start at Ochheuteal Beach, with the day’s other events set to roll in over short intervals thereafter.