To run is to be totally free, to think & to build up your strengths, both mentally & physically, whilst making you more interesting & attractive to others!!
Can you be an armchair runner? I believe so, I’ve found an outfit to wear whilst I browse the internet looking for running options to help me train for the London Marathon whilst living and working in Phnom Penh.
What do you think? It’s described as ‘adult bear sleeping bag‘:
Soooooooooo, what has my armchair research yielded?
Well, not all that promising to be fair. There’s the Phnom Pen Hash House Harriers, but they are ‘drinkers with a running problem‘ and that’s not my thing, though I’ll probably go along once at least just to see. They meet ‘every Sunday 2:00 PM at the Phnom Penh Railway station. Truck departs from the railway station at 2:30PM!’ according to their website. $5 for expats. I went out with the Vung Tau Hash in Vietnam and that was a really family friendly, and lovely group – though I discovered subsequently that was really unusual for Hash House Harriers, they are more usually hard drinking and quite macho I think, with odd masonic type initiation rituals… We shall see.
I’ve found a Running in Cambodia facebook page, which got me briefly excited as there is an organised event on 18th December 2016. Unfortunately, I can’t work out where it is really, though the organisers do seem to be based in Phnom Penh so maybe one to follow up on arrival? You enter via the Khmer Equestrian Club, which seems to have an unlikely base in Phnom Penh. They have a .com website, which doesn’t seem to be working. Very frustrating, and confusing too. In the meantime though, I’m loving the weblink I got to indirectly from this facebook page, which took me to this insightful observation about the benefits of running. Who knew I could become even more interesting and attractive through running? Marvelous!
There is another Running in Cambodia .org page which states: ‘We run with the Phnom Penh Runners (facebook group) on week-ends and Tuesday evenings, usually from Independence Monument. ‘ but I can’t tell if that’s an old post or not… there is an email you can use to get in touch, which I won’t put here in case it generates lots of spam, but it ends with ‘runningintokyo’ so I wonder if it was a tokyo group that did some training in Cambodia, rather than an ongoing thing. The video clip is encouraging though, but also old. Curses. Turn the sound down though, that tune is really annoying.
So then I had a look at the Phnom Penh Runners Facebook group page it’s a closed group, which I’ve asked to join. I can’t tell if it is an active group. The membership is not huge, and I’m not all that hopeful. They say in their ‘about’ section that they do a Saturday early morning 20km which I think is going to be too far and fast for me. You can tell by the member mugshots that they are a bit more hard core than me, and of course I’m going to take a while to adjust to the heat. Still, you never know.
There was an ancient (2008) post about Running in Phnom Penh but it wasn’t all that encouraging. It started with effusive rhetoric about how lovely it was to see the city come alive at 5.00 a.m. – not sure I’d be very alive then in running ,or indeed any terms – but then went on to add:
The city is extremely poor and beggars and homeless are everywhere, especially along Sisowath Quay. The streets are extremely dangerous to runners or to just about anyone trying to cross to the other side. There are no stop signs, traffic lights or police to patrol the renegade traffic that seems to flow in every direction at once in the form of cars, bicycles, motorbikes and the omnipresent tuk tuks, the vehicle of choice for tourists which is basically a golf cart atop a motorbike. Driving, walking, or running in this part of the city is conceivably life-threatening.
Which is why runners should stick to the tried and true. There are a few places to run safely within the city limits. The early rising runner can be found running along the Quay or doing loops in the park in front of the Royal Palace on Samdach Sothearnos Blvd.
Let’s be honest, that’s not encouraging at all is it? Hopefully things have got a bit better now?
Hmm – for now I’m thinking my strategy should be this:
- Pack trail shoes and road shoes anyway. Be prepared!
- Join gym
- Go out with hash anyway, even if it just their walking roup to get miles on the feet, and I might meet some nice people even other slow runners
- Email the Running in Cambodia people when I get there, and/or just turn up at the Phnom Penh offices. Can’t work out if this is one, two or even three different groups that have various sprung up and died as there are three variant websites with ‘runningincambodia’ within their urls
- Post message on Phnom Penh Running Facebook group page if my membership is accepted and group is still active, to ask for tips there
- I have seen some other expat forums but none look very appealing. More wealthy expats talking about stuff that isn’t relevant to me. I’d rather get involved with mixed nationality groups or there is no point in being there is there?
It is going to be hard, a lot harder than rocking up at a parkrun or finding a friendly Smiley to hobble off with, but there are at least some options to explore. I’m going to need to be brave, and mindful of my personal safety. Oh, and also try to run a bit more if I’m to keep up with the more hardcore runners. I have GOT to lose some weight. If I do that and nothing else I think I’ll improve my chances. Eek. Also, must do something about hydration – vest or belt? Whatever will reach round my ample tummy probably…
So that’s where I’m at, researching running options in Phnom Penh. Probably I’m going to have to start all over again on arrival, but at least by trying to get my head around the idea before I go I’ll increase my chances of hooking up sooner rather than later. We shall see.
STOP PRESS – late addition, just been accepted on the Phnom Penh Runners’ Facebook group. The bad news is that they are very serious runners indeed, way out of my league I think. The most recent post is about an epic off-road 220km run The Ancient Khmer Path, which does look amazing, but makes my Marathon entry look rather lame by comparison. I might not tell them about my exploits at the Wingerworth Wobble… The good news, is that they link to another group called RB Runners Club. This looks more promising, they seem to have track training sessions sometimes (?nope, no idea where) and regular city run meet ups around PP. (Get me and my local abbreviations, I’ve practically moved there already). Anyways, I’ve posted a message on both groups saying I’m coming over and looking to join up with other runners – we’ll see. Definitely progress though, yay!
Apologies if you have no interest in running. However, you know now that you are missing out on being more attractive and interesting to other people but that is your call after all.
More generalist Cambodian Angst posts will resume in due course! I need to get going with Grammar, Packing, Costings, TEFL trauma, the whole mid-life crisis ‘what was I thinking’ thing really. Hopefully that will give you something to look forward to!