My debut race for 2020 will be Ultra Trail d’Angkor’s “Bayon Trail”, a 64km route around Siem Reap’s famous Angkor Wat temple complex (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). I’ve been looking forward to travelling to Cambodia since I arrived here in Pakistan and am glad there’s a race that fits in with my schedule.
I haven’t donned a bib since March of last year when I ran the Altra 50k Skyrun in New Zealand due to some scheduling conflicts and personal events. However, my training has been solidly consistent thanks to my coach so I feel comfortable toeing the line next weekend.
For a little background, Ultra Trail d’Angkor is in its 5th edition this year and is hosted by a French company called the Sport Development and Performance Organization (SDPO) whose motto is, “If walking and running were our only goals, we would miss out on many unforgettable moments”. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but the event seems to be well-organized and attended. There are six different race lengths available, ranging from 128km down to 16km.
- When: January 18, 2020
- Where: Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Distance(s): 64k (other distances include 128k, 42k, 32k, and 16k).
- Elevation Gain/Loss: 1,030m/3,379ft.
- Registration Fee: 97€ for 64k.
- Start/Cutoff Time: 0400, 12 hours.
- UTMB Points: 3
- Accommodation: Bookable through the Race Accommodation page. We’re staying at the nearby Golden Temple Hotel, although the bib pickup and “official” accommodation is the Angkor Paradise Hotel.
- Race Website: Click HERE
The 64k and 128k routes start at the Elephants Terrace within the Bayon Temple (Angkor Wat is a large complex with many temples) and flows out and into the surrounding villages before making its way back to the start line.
This Trail of 64 km will be run on a wilderness routes, through rice fields and a natural environment of an incredible beauty without forgetting the crossings of small villages and in the background : the Angkor Temples.
With a total elevation gain of 1,030m/3,379ft, this appears to be a relatively flat and fast course while also providing some unique scenery and a great way to see the temple complex. Here’s a link to the GPX file, if interested.
The list of required equipment is relatively short and there appears to be an aid station every 10km or so, which is helpful. It’s hard to know ahead of time what will be available at the aid stations, so I tend to bring mostly my own nutrition.
Training Plan & Strategy
Last year, I read Jason Koop’s Training Essentials for Ultrarunning book and since then I have worked with my coach to integrate many of the principles and philosophies into my training over the past 6 months. This includes:
- Focusing on the least-applicable skills furthest out from the race (e.g. speed work) and gradually moving toward race-specific (long runs, time-on-feet).
- Working in more interval training, specifically hill intervals – a real killer!
- Doing workouts based on “Rating of Perceived Exertion” (RPE) instead of heart rate or time/distance only.
There are many, many excellent points and ideas in Koop’s book. I highly recommend you pick up a copy and adopt some of the principles in your own training regimen.
My weekly mileage leading up to this race has been between 30 and 50 miles with my longest run being 22 miles. Last year, this “low volume” might have caused me some pause but having done several races on a similar regimen without issue has grown my confidence and allowed for better recovery and more growth. Sometimes, less really is more.
Aside from the slight training differences, what I will also face in Cambodia is some hellfire heat and humidity. To be clear, it gets unthinkably hot and humid in Pakistan during the summer but also quite chilly (35F/2C) in the winter which is when I have done most of my training for this race. I don’t think the weather will be too much of an issue given the early start time, but I will be cautious nevertheless.
Nutritionally, I will be sure to pack some salt tablets to replenish what’s lost due to the excessive heat. Otherwise, a 64k race doesn’t require a whole lot of preparation so I will pack my usual protein bar and a few gels to get me through. As mentioned above, I’m not sure what will be at the aid stations for food so I will plan to bring my own and might graze if there’s anything appealing.
Having been away from the racing scene for nearly a year, I’m really looking forward to this event. My goals for this year of running include strong finishes, injury-free training, and taking on new distances. I expect this race to check all those boxes and offer a stellar experience in a very cool site.
On another note, I will be writing my Race Report as a guest post on TrailandKale.com, which they have graciously allowed me to do. This will be one of my first guest posts on another blog and I’m thankful for the opportunity to spread the word about these kinds of adventures. I’ll post links on my social media when its live.
Keep an eye on my Instagram page where I’ll be posting about the race and travels in Cambodia starting next week!