Running Through Thailand

Running Through Thailand  
by Jules Kay

Thailand may be known as one of the top destinations in the world to do nothing much at all, but visitors are also drawn to the Kingdom's emerald shores to exert themselves. Marathons in all the main cities and resort destinations attract large numbers of international competitors and there's a full calendar of events awaiting those with the urge to run, jog or walk around Thailand's most popular locations.  

The biggest marathon in Thailand takes place in the nation's bustling capital Bangkok. One of the largest running events in the region, the last Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon drew some 50,000 participants with world class class athletes arriving to compete from as far as Europe, America and Africa, as well as an eclectic mix of international and local amateur runners, joggers and walkers from every age group. The event offers three marathons in one, with a Full Marathon, Half Marathon, and Quarter Marathon and the course takes runners right through the city centre, passing many of its most famous landmarks, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the National Museum and the Chao Praya River. The organisers provide plenty of opportunities for spectators to enjoy the competition, one of the best being Sanam Chai Road, right by the ornate Grand Palace, where the race starts and finishes. A lively atmosphere is guaranteed and there are numerous events staged around the main race. The exact date for the 2010 event has not been finalised but the Bangkok Marathon usually takes place in November.  

Prior to the Bangkok Marathon, other running events also draw crowds of competitors and spectators. The Laguna Phuket International Marathon will celebrate its fifth year in 2010, and be held from11th -13th June. The number of participants grows with each event and is expected to break 5,000 in 2010. Runners from Asia, Europe and the Americas compete in the main 42.2KM international marathon and there is also a Half Marathon of 21.1KM, a 10.5 KM Run a 5KM walk and a 2KM kids run. The Laguna Phuket International Marathon combines races with 3 days of activities that include an Expo for sponsors to promote their products and services, as well as parties with VIP hospitality and trophy presentations. Runners are encouraged to raise money for charity and the event organisers, Go Adventure Asia, work with Laguna Phuket's CSR Program to identify needy projects in Phuket.  

As one of the most popular but also the most challenging marathon courses, the Pattaya Marathon is definitely not for the faint-hearted. This is one of the most famous courses and events in Thailand and attracts thousands of competitors and leisure participants from all over the country and beyond. Like most other major Thai marathons, there are three races to choose from with special events organised for spectators and participants and big name sponsors like Singha Beer and Super Sports. This year, the Pattaya Marathon will take place on Sunday July 18.  

Not be left out, Koh Samui's inaugural International Marathon took place in February this year, along with three days of live music, a health and sport Expo and a special runners Pasta Party the night before the main event. The event attracted sponsorship from many of the island's major hotels and resorts, as well as from a number of restaurants, bars and real estate companies. Around 500 competitors took part, running either a full or a half marathon, or joining the 5km fun run and walk. The event is expected to grow each year and become a major island attraction.  

With more marathons scheduled this year, everywhere from Had Yai in the south to Chiang Mai in the north, plus special events like the Ocean to Ocean Relay in Sogkhla and the Tribe to Tribe Marathon across the remote mountains of Mai Sariang, Thailand's marathons are becoming increasingly important. These events offer an added attraction for visitors and also present a welcome challenge for their many participants.