ING Thailand Temple Run, Thailand’s Cultural Marathon - your race for 2006
Running in the Land of Smiles
The ING Thailand Temple Run will be held for the fifth time on 19 March 2006. Initially envisioned as a marathon with a difference that provides runners a running as well as a cultural experience, the event has grown into one of the largest marathons in Thailand. Driven by the strong vision of Austrian race director Raimund Wellenhofer, participation numbers have increased considerably over the years and the event is currently the only true international marathon in Thailand. Since 2004, the event is a member of the Association of Marathons and Road Races (AIMS).
600 foreign runners in 2006
In 2005 more than 2100 runners participated in the event including 400 foreign participants, an increase of almost 100 per cent. For the 2006 event the organizers expect another jump in participation to more than 3000 and more than 600 foreign runners.
Since 2005 the ING Thailand Temple Run also has a mentioning in the Guinness Book of Records after wheelchair athlete William Tan from Singapore set a world record for being the first wheelchair athlete to complete seven marathons on seven continents in seventy days. Tan chose the ING Thailand Temple Run for his Asian leg which lead to the entry into the record book.
At the event, runners can expect a unique cultural experience. At the start line runners will be part of a spiritual spectacle, the opening and merit making ceremony conducted by the monks of Wat Pumurinkudeethong. The early morning start in the temple before dawn will add to the atmosphere during the ceremony. The runners will then be sent on the picturesque course through the Thai countryside. They will run through lush vegetation, pass traditional Thai villages, run through banana and coconut plantations and past rice fields. The course is relatively flat, and the small bridges across the little canals called ‘klongs’ are the only real elevation during the race. Throughout the marathon, runners will be entertained by Thai cultural bands and curious villagers along the course. The continuous action during the race will provide enjoyment for all participants.
A major objective for the organizers is to take very good care of all participants. Since the inaugural event, race director Raimund Wellenhofer has pushed for international standards in water station management and medical care for the runners. There are water stations every 2.5 kilometers and a medical team on the course and at the start and finish area. A generous time limit of seven hours will ensure that everyone will reach the finish line while it is still there.
The race location is situated in Thailand’s smallest province of Samut Songkram, 85 kilometers from Bangkok. There are more than 100 Temples scattered throughout the province and runners will pass more than 20 of them. The Mae Klong River running slowly through the province provides irrigation for the extensive coconut and banana plantations and the rice fields.
Dubbed as a part of ‘Unseen Thailand’, Samut Songkram has a lot to offer to visitors. The river and the many canals are great for kayaking and the small roads and nature tracks allow visitors to explore the province by bike. Only a few minutes by boat from the start and finish line of the marathon are the famous floating markets, one of the most photographed tourist attractions in Thailand. There are no market stands, but the vendors float around in their boats offering all sorts of goods from exotic fruits to the popular noodle soup (Kuay Tiaw Rua). Visitors can either join an organized tour or for the special experience they can hire a long tail boat a few kilometers up stream and the driver will take them to the market. On the way, they will be able to see how the locals live with and by the river.
Another, less know, yet just as interesting attraction is the local fruit and vegetable market in the main town of Samut Songkram province. The most remarkable part of the market is the fact that it is located along a railway line and market stands are actually located on the rails. Every time a train passes, vendors have to pack up their stands for the train to pass through. Considering that trains pass 16 times a day one may wonder why the market has not been relocated to a different location? Perhaps just another feature of unique and amazing Thailand.
For runners interested in participating in the event, the ING Thailand Temple Run has a comprehensive website (www.thailand-temple-run.com) with information on the race, regular news updates and an online registration facility. Online registrations have opened on 8 June 2005 and the early bird fee is $US 50. Travel packages are also available and can be booked on the website.
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