A fascinating assortment of runners representing all ages and abilities will take to the roads of Phuket on Sunday morning when the seventh annual “Run Paradise” Laguna Phuket International Marathon (LPIM) once again celebrates the joy of running and pursuit of fitness.
Among the line-up of more than 4,000 Thai and international participants are runners aged from 16 to almost 80 – including an Australian “Superman” taking on his 50th full marathon; and Miss Thailand World 2012 Vanessa “Na Chatra” Muangkodreturning to her native Phuket to lead local children on the 5k walk and launch Laguna Phuket’s latest charity initiative.
With a full 42k marathon starting at 0.430 am; 21k half marathon; 10,5k run; 5k family walk; and 2K children’s run LPIM offers something for everyone in a carnival atmosphere at the picturesque Laguna Phuket.
The courses wend their ways through the destination resort as well as further afield past rubber plantations, alongside beaches and through local villages.
And Phuket’s residents who line the roads to cheer runners will have plenty to liven their experience this year, with some colourful entrants set to pound the courses.
Most prominent will be Trent Morrow – “Marathon Man” – from Sydney, Australia, costumed in his customary Superman outfit as he attempts his 50th full marathon as part of a global charity challenge.
Since taking on his first marathon as a novice in 2008 Trent has notched up an average of one a month, including the world’s toughest footrace, the Sahara desert Marathon des Sables– and lost 30kg in the process – in a bid to raise money to combat the debilitating Noma disease which affects thousands of poverty-stricken children in Africa.
Other superheroes on the marathon course will be Catwoman and a junior Catwoman – Singaporean mother Jenap Said and daughter Ash wearing the distinctive costumes to encourage Ash on her first 42k marathon.
The full marathon will also see the event’s oldest competitors – Thai running couple Somsak Kasiwong and wife Yindee of Thailand, a sprightly 78 and 73 respectively. Youngest full marathon runner is 19 years-old Yim Yiou Yao of Singapore; while another Singaporean, Ah Chai Leong will be celebrating his 59th birthday on the run.
In the half marathon, 16 years-olds Verakorn Achakulwisut of Thailand and Denmark’s Emilie Kirstein are the youngest entrants along side oldest male, Malaysian Poh Jin Neau, aged 70 and oldest female, Thailand’s Sunanta Luamprapat, aged 74, and American Glenn Feagle, aged 60, who has competed every LPIM.
The 10,5k run also features a spectrum of ages, from the youngest female, 18 years-old Thai Thitaree Khaotong to the oldest male, Kazuhiko Ashida of Japan, aged 75.
Laguna Phuket itself is also well represented with some 350 staff members taking part, including most hotel general managers.
“We love the way that this event brings runners from all over the world here to enjoy our beautiful environment and to compete together with our local community, Laguna staff and running clubs from all over Thailand,” said Debbie Dionysius, Laguna Phuket Assistant Vice President Destination Marketing.
“Around Laguna we see our dedicated colleagues running every day during the weeks leading up to this weekend, and Phuket as a whole seems to truly enjoy the marathon buzz that’s created every May and June.
Laguna’s triathlon star Jaray Jearanai of Laguna Holiday Club – the only Thai to complete back-to-back Ironman 70.3 and Ironman world championships – is aiming to retain his 2011 half marathon title, while serious full marathon runners will have their sights set on cracking last year’s course record of 02:33:51set by Russian whirlwind Vsevelod Khudyakov.
Miss Thailand World 2012Vanessa “Na Chatra” Muangkod is LPIM Charity Ambassador and leads the effort to raise THB 2 million for Laguna’s new “Fully Booked” project to operate a mobile library and learning centre for local school children that will also involve fund-raising at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon and Ironman 70.3 triathlon later this year.
Spectators on the course may also notice some runners with a forward-leaning gait, as a result of attending a workshop on “Chi Running” at Laguna the day before, led by running specialist Lit Onrubia of the Philippines. The technique, increasingly popular worldwide, is reputed to lead to more efficient running with fewer injuries.