The Bagan Temple Marathon starts and finishes at Htilominlo Temple, built in 1211 and known for its fine plaster carvings.
The first part of the route is the same for full and half marathon runners. And the last section starting at approximately 13km for the half marathoners and 35km for the marathon runners, the route converges.
The first 5km of the course is run on dirt roads through the plains of Bagan towards Old Bagan. Runners will be treated to magnificent views of thousand-year-old temples and pagodas. The course continues on asphalt for about 1km before hitting the dirt road again as runners carry on across Bagan. The next 5km are on dirt roads.
The full marathoners turn right after the Dhammayakiza Pagoda at the 11km mark. They carry on towards New Bagan, but instead of entering New Bagan, runners continue onto a sandy path and enter what feels like a different realm. The course takes runners on a journey of discovery. See ox carts laden with grain plodding on the sandy track. Wave to farmers tending their rice and peanut fields. Be prepared to high five gaggles of children decked out in their festive clothes waiting to say hello. It feels like time has been standing still in this remote corner of the world.
At 22km, runners enter the beautiful Nyaungdo village. The surface is now back to being a dirt road and the course continues onto a dam with the view to the right of a stunning mountain-top pagoda, Tuyin Taung Pagoda. To the left, the palm-fringed fields lie below and the spires of Bagan’s temples shimmer in the distance. From 26-30km, runners continue on an asphalt road which is not closed off to traffic, so remember to keep to the left.
The route continues onto a dirt road and through the fields until another village is reached. The course takes you through East Pwazaw village where the residents are likely to be outside their homes and cheering you on! This small village with its palm-leaf roofs and warm residents will undoubtedly give you a boost of energy to carry on.
A dirt trail connects the route to West Pwazaw village where the marathon route meets the half marathon course. After West Pwazaw village, the course continues through the plains of Bagan and runners are again rewarded with views of the historic temples. At this point, the surface becomes asphalt for about 1km before reverting back to dirt tracks again.
The final stretch is a mix of dirt and asphalt surfaces before the long-awaited finish line is in sight back at Htilominlo Temple.
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Absolutely fantastic experience. So glad to have competed in this event, despite the 42 degree temp on the day. Burma was amazing and the Tour Guides who we dealt with were extremely informative, personable, fun and professional. We met some great people from around the world who we have continued to keep in touch with. I highly recommend this event, it was well organised, a true adventure marathon, great to experience Burma before it becomes another Thailand. For me the highlight of the trip also was the Balloon ride over the Bagan Temples, as well as finishing the race!!!
The Bagan Temple Marathon trip was fantastic. I had one of the best holidays that I can recall. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well organised the whole trip was (given that it's the first time) and also at how luxurious the hotels / resorts were. I would strongly recommend the trip to anyone considering it.The marathon was great, but challenging because of the heat. The Bagan Temple area is fascinating, and running through it was great. The second half of the marathon became a matter of survival, however, as it got incredibly hot. Pretty slow times, but who cares. The experience was great.
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The entry fee for the Bagan Temple Marathon is incorporated into the price of the package you choose and cannot be purchased independently.
There are no qualifying times for the Bagan Temple Marathon.
Note that all participants must be 18 years or older at the time of the race
The Bagan Temple Marathon starts at 6:15am
The Bagan Temple Marathon must be completed in 7 hours.
Note: Marathon runners have a 5-hour cut-off at 27km, near Water Station 7.
All runners who don’t make the cut-off time or the time limit will be picked up and driven to the finish line.
The Bagan Temple Marathon is timed with a bib chip timing system.
The final results will be published on the website as soon as possible after the race.
You will receive your start/bib number in the race goodie bag will be handed out to you upon arrival in Bagan.
All runners will receive one bib number that must be worn during the race. It must be attached to the front of your body and readable – both for safety and for photography purposes!
The bib numbers are colour-coded according to the distance you are running:
There are no official pace setters in this event.
There will be water stations along the route and all water stations will also have energy drinks.
Some stations will also allow for personal drinks and there will be bananas towards the middle of the course.
Personal Refreshments and Clothing
Personal supplies can be deposited at water station 3 (approx. 12km) and 7 (approx. 27km mark).
It is possible to deposit bags at the race start/finish area with personal items for use after the race.
Short-sleeve technical shirts are a good choice for race-day as they do not absorb sweat.
In the morning prior to the race start, you may wish to have a light jacket or windbreaker to help you stay comfortable during your ride to the race. Consider packing a change of clothes for after the race.
You will be transported to the start of the Bagan Temple Marathon on race morning and transported back after the race.
Finishers T-shirts, Medals and Certificates
All participants will receive a t-shirt and all finishers will receive a medal.
The weather in November is hot and humid with temperatures reaching highs of around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Light-coloured, technical shirts are a good choice as sweat is not absorbed (unlike cotton). Although clothing in Myanmar should generally be conservative, there are no restrictions on what to wear on race day.
Due to the frequency of tourists and the number of years that this race has been run, villagers and locals are accustomed to seeing shorts and tank tops, and it is widely accepted.
Sun block is an absolute necessity (use SPF30 or above), and a running hat with visor is also advisable as it can help keep the sun out of your eyes.
- Half Marathon
Bagan Temple MarathonThe 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 ...
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!
The Bagan Temple Marathon from a Middle Aged Female PerspectiveSome months ago now I was sitting at work and was just about to hit the delete button on yet another promotional email that had appeared in my inbox. Something intriguing stopped me and made me read ...
Some months ago now I was sitting at work and was just about to hit the delete button on yet another promotional email that had appeared in my inbox. Something intriguing stopped me and made me read the email a little closer. It said “The Inaugural Bagan Temple Marathon”. My thoughts went “Where the hell is that?” followed by “temple??” probably means Asia followed by maybe warm = READ FURTHER. Then it included tropical beach option, really like that after all I do live in Tasmania!
So, I jumped up from my desk and went and found my training buddy and work mate (also middle aged female) and said “how about it???” The long and the short of it was that she couldn’t do it but much to my surprise my husband (who is totally allergic to running) said he would come! He too likes Asia although not running, and we were both keen to see Myanmar before it became too developed. Before he could change his mind I was entered and had booked for us both.
My running history included 4 half ironman triathlons, 3 half marathons and 2 marathons. Two of the half Ironmans had been in Cairns and they didn’t kill me so I thought “how hard could it be???” I probably should add that I only took up running at the age of 49, 5 years ago!
So I set myself a training regime and sort of stuck to it but the only problem was, training for running in the heat when you live in Tasmania! I tried a couple of sessions on a treadmill with the heater on but it just didn’t really do it for me. So I convinced myself that I would be fine, I’d done Cairns twice so it would all be ok! We arrived in Yangon, Myanmar 2 days before the Bagan Temple Marathon (31st October 2013). It was great to be in Asia, food was good, people friendly and the heat and humidity was about as different to Tasmania as you could get. Coming out of a very long winter this was good…. Or was it???
We flew to Bagan early the next morning, requiring a 4.30 am wake up. Everything we did seemed to require an early morning wake up! The airport was interesting, and after a sticker placed on our chests we boarded Air Bagan. We arrived early but were able to check in to our very pleasant motel. The day was ours to discover the ins and outs of Bagan, mostly temples but also lacquerware, markets and great food. That night was the registration and pasta night which wasn’t too bad considering we were in Myanmar!!!
Marathon day began with yet another early morning wake up call, early breakfast and a bus ride to the start line. It was already warm and it was only 6 am. The Myanmar minister for tourism was there along with a number of tourist police and some hot air balloons to see us on our way. We were all pumped and ready to go. 7am arrived and off we went. It only took 20 minutes into it to realize just how hot this was going to get. And if the heat wasn’t enough we had mud to run through in the first 5 km so we started off with wet, muddy feet. Not far into the race I kept coming across pairs of running shoes on the side of the track. It wasn’t until I got back that I discovered that they belonged to the local runners who obviously started out in shoes but quickly discarded them. The race was won by these local guys in bare feet!
The course was a big circuit around an endless number of temples of all sizes and conditions. It also went through a number of very small remote villages where the locals came out to cheer us on. We had to share the track at times with goat herds, ox driven carts and several farmers. It was amazing scenery and I was loving it. However it was hot! The track varied from thick soft sand to gravel to the odd bit of bitumen. But it was all hot. The temperature rose to 43 degrees in the sun and 38 in the shade with 100 % humidity.
It was odd to tip water on your head and it never evaporated. Mind you the water was still cooler than my head so it was still worth tipping it over. I ran with a 4 bottle fuel belt as well as carrying a 600 ml bottle of water. There were plenty of water stations so we had good access to bottled water. I estimated that I drank over 10 litres and didn’t even need a toilet stop which was good because there were none!
By the 25 km mark I was reduced to doing a bit of walking. I then got into quite a good run 1 minute walk 1 minute pattern which kept me going really well. At times I really felt the heat and had to listen hard to my body. When I started feeling dizzy or shivery I slowed down, drank more and tipped more water on my head. I can remember getting to the 32 km mark and thinking that I still had 10 km to go! It was hard but I just kept up the 1 minute on and 1 minute off and eventually that magical 40 km mark came around. The last 2.2km seemed so far but I made it and even managed to wave to all the fantastic supporters that were there from all over the world. As I crossed that finish line a magnificent medal was put around my neck and never have I felt more proud of myself.
My very relieved husband was waiting for me at the finish line and kept saying how amazed he was at how good I looked. He had been getting a little worried as he saw a large number of people coming in by medical vehicle and had been regularly checking the medical tent for me. It had taken me 5 hours 44 minutes which was 44 minutes more than I would estimate my time for a marathon. I was happy with that though as the conditions were like nothing I had ever raced in before.
The organization of the marathon was pretty good. The track was very well marked and at no time did you feel that you could get lost. There were plenty of water stations although it was difficult to know how far away from one you were at any given time. It would have been nice to have been given a map prior to the run but I understand that the course had to be changed at the last minute due to rain 3 days prior to the event. I take my hat off to the organizers of the event as it could not have been easy to have done this in an undeveloped country like Myanmar.
Overall the event was awesome, challenging and an experience of a lifetime. I would encourage anyone who likes an event that is a bit different to have a go but keep in mind it is not an event to do under prepared. After the marathon there was a presentation evening at which the Aussie contingent had a very good time! A number of drinks were had and a number of photos taken.
Following this a number of us flew to Ngpali Beach for some well earned R and R. It was beautiful and just what my 8 black toe nails needed!
A Brief Summary of the Inaugural Bagan Temple Marathon
- Spectacular scenery
- Amazing people
- Extremely hot and humid conditions
- Massive variety of running surfaces (mud, sand, gravel, bitumen but luckily not many hills)
- Great new running buddies
- Fantastic finishers medal
The most awesome experience ever. If you love running, travelling and Asia then it is a marathon not to miss. Do it now before the country becomes too developed.
Bagan Temple Marathon TestimonialsThe Bagan Temple Marathon trip was fantastic. I had one of the best holidays that I can recall. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well organised the whole trip was (given that it's the first ...
The Bagan Temple Marathon trip was fantastic. I had one of the best holidays that I can recall. I was very pleasantly surprised by how well organised the whole trip was (given that it’s the first time) and also at how luxurious the hotels / resorts were. I would strongly recommend the trip to anyone considering it.The marathon was great, but challenging because of the heat. The Bagan Temple area is fascinating, and running through it was great. The second half of the marathon became a matter of survival, however, as it got incredibly hot. Pretty slow times, but who cares. The experience was great.
Peter Finch, December 2013
Absolutely fantastic experience. So glad to have competed in this event, despite the 42 degree temp on the day. Burma was amazing and the Tour Guides who we dealt with were extremely informative, personable, fun and professional. We met some great people from around the world who we have continued to keep in touch with. Highly recommend this event, it was well organised, a true adventure marathon, great to experience Burma before it becomes another Thailand ….. For me the highlight of the trip also was the Balloon ride over the Bagan Temples, as well as finishing the race!!!
Denise Coult, December 2013