Written by Neil Jones
The Bagan Temple Marathon event (or the half marathon option in my case) was a magical experience. It’s not often you get to run in a 10,000 year old archaeological zone surrounded by over 2000 Buddhist temples and pagodas.
The short flight to Bagan from Myanmar’s capital Yangon was a great way to see the changing landscape of this beautiful country. Upon arrival into Bagan, the change of pace from Yangon was immediately noticeable as we were transported to our hotel. Less people, less traffic, clearer air and village settlements replaced big city lifestyle.
The sightseeing options available were well planned. We were taken to the Bupaya Pagoda, Nathlaung Kyaung Temple and Shwezigon Pagoda as part of escorted tours. But we were also encouraged to venture out as a group, hire E-scooters and explore the countryside at leisure. The early morning balloon ride over Bagan is also highly recommended.
The race itself was brilliant. You’d been with your group of fellow runners for a few days so the banter was excellent and these people were your family away from home. An early start meant that the heat of the day was avoided. The set up by the organising team at the start/finish line was nothing short of incredible, including some great beats and the best post run Myanmar style treats you can imagine!
The after party was a magical mystery cruise on the mighty Irrawaddy River followed by a sit down outdoor banquet back on dry land.
I chose to go on the Ngapali Beach extension trip, one of the most beautiful, unspoilt coastal resorts in all of Asia. A perfect place to unwind and the pace of life here drops yet another notch. I can’t recommend Ngapali Beach highly enough, just gorgeous.
The friendships I made on my Bagan adventure are now lifelong. Whatsapp networking groups mean that we’re all still regularly in touch and all determined to race together again somewhere out there in this big wide world. Petra Desert in Jordan…The Big Five in South Africa…who knows!