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Swedish Duo clinch Half Marathon in Siem Reap

By: Ken Gadaffi Posted: December-05-2011 in
Swedish Runner Henrik Jannaborg wins 16th Angkor Wat International Half Marathon
Ken Gadaffi

The 16th edition of the Angkor Wat International Half marathon in Siem Reap was held yesterday with Swedish Runner Henrik Jannaborg emerging winner in his debut run and his compatriot Jenny Lundgren romped home in the women’s event.

The Race which started at about 6:40am saw a record 5,230 runners from 58 countries Tee off in front of the famed Angkor Wat complex to take part in different categories over varying distances.

The men’s and women’s half marathoners numbering around 2,000 were the first to be flagged off by Minister of Tourism and President of the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Thong Khon.

With a temperature at about 21 degrees celsius at the start and humidity well within reasonable limits, the runners all cramped together trying to outdo each other at the start and for a while it was difficult to separate the contenders from the pretenders.

After about 2 Kilomenters, the serious contenders began to stretch away in a challenging tempo set by none other than Jannaborg.

Following closely Behind him emerged a group led by last year’s runner-up Evan Fox. But at the half way stage it was obvious that the Swedish amateur was the one to beat.

A niggling Calf Injury restrained Fox. The tall Californian, who now lives in Vietnam working for the government there on environmental issues.

“I very nearly thought of giving up,” said the American after the race. However, he gamely carried on to eventually finish just a minute slower in second place behind the athletically built Swede, who timed an impressive 1:13.05 for the 21km trip.

And with Last year's champion Hem Bunting conspicuosly absent from this year's event, it was a race meant to be won by the bravest amoung the lots and Jannabong took it up.

Japan’s Qnozo Miroma, with a timing of 1:17.41, filed in third ahead of Jo Koster of Switzerland and Remi Galland of France.

“The conditions were definitely much better than I had expected,” said a triumphant Jannaborg. “When I looked over my shoulders at the half way stage, I could see Evan and others chasing hard. I just kept going and it is such a great feeling to win here". said the swede moments after the race.

“This is my first appearance in this event. No, I am not a professional, I just love distance running and before coming here I had run a couple of half marathons in Thailand,” he said, adding that he also plans to compete in a full marathon.

For women’s half marathon winner Jenny Lundgren, a convincing victory in the event also came with a cost. Winning in 1:25.22 ahead of New Zealander Holly Warren (1:29.11) and Singapore’s Vivian Tang (1:30.20), the 33-year-old Swede had expended so much of her energy that she was visibly struck by cramps after the event. She limped to the podium to receive her well earned prize.

This is only the second time that the winners of both the men’s and women’s events are from the same country, matching the record set in 1996 by the Chinese pair of Zhan Donglin (men) and Wang Xiujie.

The men’s 10km run produced a finish fit for the theatre with 41-year-old Frenchmen Amaud Deh pushing aside Cambodia’s Kan Thoeun. Running barefoot, Sa Ratak of Cambodia finished a noteworthy third.

The women’s 10km was equally exacting with Switzerland’s Corine Coster staying the trip better than the rest. Behind the winner came Gina Stenberg of Norway in a close distance with Thailand’s Kristina Eriksson trotting home in third.

Teenagers dominated the Family 3km fun run with Manchester-born Samuel Penfold emerging the winner.

The 13-year-old English lad, whose parents are working in Phnom Penh, is a product of the ISPP School. He cut a smart time of 11:18.37. Someway behind in second place was Cambodia’s Huan Kung Kie, 14, ahead of 18-year-old local boy Nov Han.

The Race also had a space for the disabled and in the 10km run for men with artificial arms was claimed by Cambodia’s Vichet Mao with two other local runners Chec Eun and Bunleap Heam taking second and third places. The Poor condition of the road led to the cancellation of the all wheelchair races by the organizers.

“This is an astounding success for our sports tourism and I am extremely happy that the event passed off without any incidents. It is heartening to note that the Angkor Wat Half Marathon is growing in size and popularity and this year we had record numbers,” Tourism Minister Thong Khon said in an exclusive interview after the awards Ceremony.

“We have been in discussion with organiser of this half marathon, Yuko Arimori of non-profit organisation Hearts of Gold, on the prospects of staging a full marathon in future. This route around the temple complex is ideal for a half marathon and to hold a 42km event we need lot of additional adjustments. It may not be feasible in the near future, but one day we will definitely have it,” the minister added.

On a more positive note, the event was free from any health concerns according to the NOCC Secretary General Vath Chamroeun with only a few runners treated for exhaustion during and after the race.

“Other than this, which is quite normal when thousands take part, the day was a victory for Cambodia’s biggest sports-tourism initiative,” he said.

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