Tourism agency aiming to make Thailand tops for runners

Thailand’s tourism agency is racing to make the country a prime destination for marathon and other runners as part of the growing trend of sports tourism. Over 25,000 foreign runners competed in Thailand last year.

“We should increase collaboration between all stakeholders to make the events grow to a global scale like the Chicago and New York marathons, with the race becoming a part of the culture,” said Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).

The TAT’s ultimate goal is to elevate Thailand to a place among the most preferred running destination, with more than ten races drawing broad international participation.

Thailand held over 2,000 running events last year, but many did not attract competitors from overseas. The most well known were the Bangsaen21 and the Buriram Marathon. Both races have been accredited by World Athletics, formerly known as the International Association of Athletics Federations.

“The Bangsaen race series is the only marathon event in Thailand that organizes three different races based on distance from November to January,” said Rut Jiroajvanichakorn, managing director of MICE & Communication, the company that stages the Bangsaen21 and Bangsaen42 races. Baengsaen is in Chonburi province, just east of Bangkok, and a stone’s throw from the beach resort of Pattaya.

Rut said he expects World Athletics to award the Bangsaen21 a gold label this year, making it the first half-marathon in Southeast Asia to receive that status. The race was certified with a silver label last year.

The government is also planning to make more considerable efforts to promote the Amazing Thailand Marathon. That race has been named in global runners’ surveys as among the top 20 marathons in which top-seeded runners wish to participate.

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