Thailand’s so-called running boom seems tourism driven and internationally centric, with hundreds of races organised in a single year. When in fact, it is a local Thai, grass roots phenomenon that has grown holistically together with the country’s health and fitness revolution.
One of the oldest official marathons in the Kingdom is not sponsored by Thai multi-national corporations like some other high profile events, but by a local non-profit organisation: The Thai Health Promotion Foundation.[su_slider source=”media: 50535,50531,45335,50536,50528″ link=”image” target=”blank” width=”1000″ height=”800″ autoplay=”0″]
Chombueng Marathon, Ratchaburi
The Chombueng Marathon is the oldest organised race in Thailand and recently celebrated its 32nd event. First launched in 1985 with 100 participants, it is experiencing remarkable growth attracting 13,040 runners this year (15 January), more than double the 5,500 who laced up and ran in 2016. Its most loyal sponsor, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, also uses the Chombueng Marathon as a model for other local administrations to emulate with Samut Songkhram, Bang Saen and Chon Buri municipalities already organising their own marathons.
Last year, the Chombueng Marathon route was officially certified by the Association of International Marathons. The event transforms the sleepy town of Chombueng into a marathon mecca, with participants on a cardio-pilgrimage competing for the chance to win a trophy sponsored by HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. The event normally takes place in January.
Chiang Mai University Marathon, Chiang Mai
The Chiang Mai University Marathon is a race that runners do not want to miss. Cash prizes are up for grabs for those who participate in the full marathon, as well as medals for each race. While running around Chiang Mai, participants get to soak up the traditional art, culture and historical sites that make this region of Thailand so unique. It offers a 42 km full marathon, 21 km half marathon, 10.5 km mini marathon and 5 km fun run. The event normally takes place in February.
BDMS Bangkok Marathon, Bangkok
The Bangkok Marathon is the largest marathon in Thailand and has run since 1988, attracting over 55,000 participants in 2015. The start and end of the race is located on Sanchai Road in front of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Ministry of Defence, and it is said to be one of the most elegant routes in Thailand. The capital’s traffic is closed on the course overnight from the midnight start until 07:00 Hrs. during the day of the marathon. This year’s event is on 19 November.
Bangkok Midnight Marathon, Bangkok
The inaugural Bangkok Midnight Marathon is scheduled this May and represents the newest addition to Thailand’s crowded running event calendar. It is taking a leaf from a growing trend and holding the race in the wee hours of the early morning, laying claim it is poised to become Thailand’s leading international class marathon. This year’s event will take place on 20 May.
Ayutthaya Marathon, Ayutthaya
The Ayutthaya Historical Park is the chosen race venue for this unique marathon held every December. The race day comprises of a 42 km, 21 km and 10 km marathon, as well as a child-friendly fun run. Each course enables runners to take in the former Thai capital’s host of cultural sights, historical ruins and ancient temples. Ayutthaya Marathon is open to runners of all ages and attracts well over a thousand participants. This year’s event will take place on 10 December.
Laguna Phuket International Marathon, Phuket
The Laguna Phuket International Marathon is spread across two days, and all distances are usually sell-out events set up to support the Laguna Phuket Foundation. The full marathon, half marathon, 10.5 km run, 5 km walk and run, and 2 km kids’ run start and finish at the beautiful Laguna Phuket integrated resort. Full marathon runners follow a route out of Laguna Phuket that winds through local rubber plantations and quaint villages. This year’s event will take place on 3-4 June.
Pattaya Marathon, Chon Buri
The Pattaya Marathon is one of Thailand’s most popular running events for both locals, foreign residents and overseas visitors that is held annually in July. Participants can choose to run in three categories: full marathon (42 km), half marathon (21 km) and quarter marathon (10 km) along a course and challenge the steepest hill of Khao Phra Tamnak. The event starts from 05:00 Hrs. at the Central Festival Pattaya Beach. This year’s event is on 16 July.
Foremost Ironman 70.3 Thailand, Phuket
With a new and exciting course, the Foremost Ironman 70.3 Thailand attracted a new generation of triathletes last year. The race venue remains at the same location where Asia’s first triathlon was launched over 20 years ago. The start, finish and awards party all conveniently take place on picturesque Bang Tao Beach. This year’s event will take place on 26 November.
Khao Yai Trail Marathon, Nakhon Ratchasima
The Khao Yai Trail Marathon starts at Sameur Dao Khao Yai, Pak Chong in Khao Yai, and gives runners eight whole hours to finish the main event. Even though the course is mainly flat, this marathon features a variety of terrains and breath-taking tropical forest view as it winds through the national park. The event boasts a 42 km marathon, 21 km half marathon, 10 km and 3.5 km fun run for both adults and children.
Khon Kaen International Marathon, Khon Kaen
The Khon Kaen International Marathon takes place every January and features a full 42 km marathon, 21 km half marathon and 11.5 km mini marathon. Everyone is welcome to participate in the 4.5 km fun run. Starting from the Golden Jubilee Convention Hall, the route takes runners past cultural attractions and multiple local landmarks including stunning Wat Nong Wang. Next year’s event will take place on 28 January.
Whether it’s the Kingdom’s oldest race or the first in a series, visiting runners in search of a unique local experience can look forward to running with a group of smiling Thai racers from start to finish.