The third edition of the Luang Prabang Half Marathon drew 508 runners, a record number of participants, raising over $50,000 for three Lao charities: a children’s hospital, a girls’ hygiene program, and a literacy organization.
More than 500 participants took to the streets of the UNESCO World Heritage Site town on October 18, 2015 in the run that has been voted among Asia’s top destination runs by CNN. An unexpected shower did not dampen the enthusiasm of the runners from 23 countries, who made their way past the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers, beautiful temples, and markets. New course timings were set in the 21, 14, and 7-kilometre categories.
Funds from this year’s run, including the registration fee, will go to three Luang Prabang based organization. Primary is the Lao Friends Hospital for Children, the second such institution to be set up by the US-based NGO, Friends Without A Border, after the one in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The hospital provides vital care to about 55 children in Luang Prabang every day, treating such illnesses as malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. Funds from the inaugural run helped fund a training restaurant for disadvantaged youth in the city. Two other organizations, Big Brother Mouse, who provide Lao language books to youth throughout the country, and L’eau Solidarite, who through their young women’s hygiene program are publishing and distributing books along with menstrual health bags, addressing the lack of women’s health knowledge in rural communities.
“We are very please to see the local and international community embrace this run, which benefits this lovely town and its people. We hope the half marathon will continue to draw runners who care as much about doing good as a great run,” said Ivan Scholte, local hotelier, and one of the organizers.
Sponsors of the race this year included Tigerhead Drinking Water, the US Embassy, Booking.com, Banque Franco-Lao, and 17 hotels and local businesses.