Phnom Penh to Angkor Wat Challenge: Ultrarunning to Change Lives

This November, two British Nationals will be undertaking a monumental ultrarunning challenge, to raise funds to empower communities through sustainable development in rural Cambodia.

TGF Farmer Field School Trainees receiving seeds
TGF Farmer Field School Trainees receiving seeds

Matthew Pocock and Mark Ferguson, UK Nationals living in Hong Kong, will be running over 300 kilometers in six days, finishing with the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon, on December 3rd. They aim to raise $50,000 for Temple Garden Foundation (TGF), a livelihoods development NGO working in Chi Kraeng District, Siem Reap province – one of the poorest parts of Cambodia. Funds raised will go towards TGF’s life-changing programming in Water & Sanitation, Health, Education and Income Generation.

Towards the end of 2016, Mark attended a TGF fundraising dinner in Singapore, and was blown away, not just by the work that they were doing, but also by how impoverished some of the rural communities in Cambodia were. After sharing this experience with Matt, they ideated and decided on challenging themselves to run from Cambodia’s modern capital of Phnom Penh, to the ancient capital of Angkor, near Siem Reap, in time for the Angkor Wat International Half Marathon; something that they don’t believe has been done before. Along the way, they will pass through Chi Kraeng district, and run through many of the rural communities Temple Garden Foundation supports.

Mark (left) & Matt visiting the TGF target area, Chi Kraeng District
Mark (left) & Matt visiting the TGF target area, Chi Kraeng District

“When I tell people about the run” said Matthew, “the first question I normally get is ‘why?’”

“Two reasons – the charity, and the personal challenge. One of the things I love about the work that TGF are doing is the way they are trying to transform the way communities in remote areas live. Empowering people with the tools they need to be able to sustain a better way of life for themselves and their families.
Personally, this Challenge will not be easy. 300+ kilometers in over 6 days, with 30 degree heat will make sure we earn every dollar we raise. By doing something unique and tough, we hope people will donate generously. We are not 100% sure, but we don’t think anyone has ever ran between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. It’s a long way, and logistics in Cambodia still have their challenges, but the unknown creates excitement and it’s a unique personal challenge.”

“There are a few people I would like to thank for supporting us in this challenge: Manulife, Sofitel, Awoo, Gone Running HK and also TGF.”

TGF supported School Enrollment Campaign
TGF supported School Enrollment Campaign

TGF’s programming has facilitated positive change for over 40,000 people in Chi Kraeng district:

  • 88% of households now have access to working latrines, compared to Cambodia’s 40% average.
  • 40,000+ people have sustainable access to improved water sources
  • 50% reduction in child malnutrition since 2011
  • 83% reduction in cases of waterborne disease since 2012
  • 10,000+ children reached by our education programming
  • Establishment of Savings Groups, as sustainable micro-finance alternatives, with a 250% increase in member-incomes.

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Marlieke is a hospitality professional with a passion for digital marketing. After moving to Indonesia in 2011 she joined Starwood and filled e-commerce, digital marketing, and marketing communication positions in hotels in Jakarta and Bali. In 2017 she moved to Siem Reap and not long thereafter she turned her freelance consulting gigs into her own consulting company. When she is not traveling or running, she is now sharing her expertise with hotels and destination marketers in Indonesia and Cambodia.