Gone are the days we traveled to Thailand for its absolutely scrumptious Thai cuisines, incredibly breathtaking beaches, and soothing traditional Thai massage therapies. Trust us, this Southeast Asian nation is now also brimming with an overwhelming list of running experiences.
Bangsaen is the closest beach getaway from the capital city and most populous city of Thailand, Bangkok as well as any provinces north of Chonburi. The moment I stepped foot in Bangsaen, the friendliness and serenity already made me fall in love at first sight.
Courtesy of MICE & Communication, I was given an opportunity to run the Bangsaen21 Half Marathon 2018, experienced the beautiful, captivating, and challenging course along Bangsaen beach.
If you haven’t started running in Bangsaen yet, one of the best races to start is the Bangsaen21.
The first and only IAAF Road Race Bronze Label event
Organized by MICE & Communication and Saensuk Municipality, the Bangsaen21 Half Marathon is an annual half marathon held in Bangsaen, Chonburi Province, Thailand. In 2018, the event has built a new history of Thailand and success to be awarded IAAF Road Race Bronze Label, the first and only half marathon in Thailand, and the second in ASEAN next to the Singapore Marathon. At present, only 113 road race events worldwide, all international races, were recognized by those standards.
The Mayor of Saensuk Municipality is an avid sportsperson
Mr. Narongchai Khunpluem, Mayor of Saensuk Municipality turned up and ran the half marathon in support of encouraging the citizens and motivating the running community of Bangsaen. Not only is he an avid runner, but Mr. Narongchai also plays a part in triathlons. He aims to promote sports tourism and strives to attract local and international runners to Chonburi Province.
It evinced an orderly and efficient arrangement
With an increasing number of participants, totaling over 13,080 runners that joined the half marathon in 2017, the fourth edition of Bangsaen21 2018 attracted more than 15,000 runners, and followed a scenic route, with high safety standards, a world-class medical team and the latest innovation of racing technology – Thai Run. On race day, the photo of each runner was displayed on the monitor to ensure the right person to enter the race through facial recognition technology. You’re strictly not allowed to enter the race without a bib.
There was ample on-the-run fuel for the runners
You must have burned calories during your runs, and your body definitely needs the energy to move. Thus, refueling is hugely vital to help you to go the distance. Don’t you worry, there was an overwhelming amount of running fuel available to runners. For instance, energy gels, Milo bars, fresh fruits, freshly baked pizzas and more. The race director made sure the runners were not running on an empty stomach.
A litter-free running venue
Litter is not just unsightly, but can also cause serious environmental issues. The issue of littering has always been a challenge in running events. The abundance of plastic trash that can be seen at aid, energy, and hydration stations, can negatively affect our running performance. At Bangsaen21, the race director had huge bins set up at the stations as well as a team of marshals who picked up any litter. However, I was truly amazed to also discover that runners were holding and picking up gel packets and paper cups when running.
Sufficient porta-potty for runners’ needs
Every runner has dealt with toilet issues at one time or another logging some miles or running a race, and knows that a smooth race starts with a smooth pre-race ritual. That being so, runners often have a love-hate relationship with portable toilets at running events. I was totally pleased with one of the most significant race elements – the porta-potty! The ample, clean, and comfortable portable toilets absolutely deserve additional attention.
A thriving running community
Aside from Thailand’s booming running community, Bangsaen21 has also created a positive impact for the area promoting Bangsaen as a Sports Tourism City, with the readiness to host big events and welcome a large number of participants, to its locations, accommodations, restaurants, hotels, shops, and friendly locals.
In spite of the language barrier, I could sense its convivial and sociable atmosphere with the community. Not only have the locals’ running enthusiasm and passion for running manifested signs of sporting boom, but the bicycle-friendly, long and spectacular promenade which is packed with tandem bicycles and seafood stalls, enchanting palm-lined beachfront, and unspoiled seashore also live up to the reputation of the province.
Running course was an oasis of calm and tranquility
Like most Thai beachside towns, Bangsaen sprung from an old fishing village. Its development can be charted back to 1967 when an ASEAN conference descended for golf and relaxation, followed closely by developers who saw its potential. Bangsaen, however, has remained free from the rampant overdevelopment characterizing many of the more popular resort towns punctuating Thailand’s coastline.
With every stride, I experienced a different facet of Bangsaen. The intense rays of the sun shone through the billowing clouds, kissing my skin and the world seemed to stand still. Less than half a day, I was already taken in by the soothing atmosphere that surrounded. Letting my mind to absorb the tranquility, I ran as fast as my feet could carry forward. Feeling exhausted, I got fluids in without affecting my running pace and quickly found myself once again running under the warmth of the beautiful beach.
An experience never to be forgotten
The weather was delightful. I had rhythmic breathing and maintained a steady pace throughout the distance. In fact, I felt much more confident and optimistic leading up to my goal. The whole running course combining hills and flats was pleasant, picturesque, and ultimately ideal for any amateur runner.
It was a unique experience for not compelling myself to hit a target time, but performing better. I had SOUL Run Free Pro Bio to advise my running gait and complement my run. When feeling uninspired to run, I listened to my coach and focused on the road. These sweat-proof wireless earphones, world’s first A.I. earphones with Gait Analysis technology provided real-time voice coaching and monitored my running forms.
They have a built-in sensor for tracking different metrics, which can be viewed in the SOUL Fit app. After completing my run, I could easily see my run on a map, data related to my running forms, distance, step counts, speed, and time. The real-time voice coach would suggest ways of improving my forms, which enhance the running efficiency and minimize the risk of injury.
There is a true satisfaction in completing Bangsaen21 Half Marathon, recollecting the moments on my accomplishment, and telling this unforgettable story. I learned about the pure passion for a sport, discipline, determination, and resilience in a sport. Crossing that line, whether in a time close to the elite runners or close to the race’s cutoff time, means the same thing: you’re a finisher.
The finisher medal reminded me of the reason why I started, the goals I set, and the achievement that I am very proud of.