LUANG PRABANG, Laos – On a misty morning in mid-October, Luang Prabang’s daily procession of barefoot, saffron-clad monks will cross paths with a troupe of trainer-sporting, neon-clad runners who will hit the scenic streets of the UNESCO Heritage Town to raise money for a new children’s hospital.
The second half-marathon ever to take place in laid-back Luang Prabang kicks off on October 12, 2014. Last year’s race, dubbed ‘La Procession’, drew some 250 participants from all over the globe who ran to raise funds to build a vocational training centre.
The 2014 race is titled ‘Lai Huea Fai’ after the lantern festival that marks the end of Buddhist Lent. This year, runners will be lacing up their sneakers to support the construction of the Lao Friends Hospital for Children, which aims to provide high-quality health care for the children of Laos.
Corporate sponsors will contribute to cover the costs of the race, enabling all participants’ donations to go to New York-based non-profit organisation Friends Without a Border for the building of the children’s hospital. The minimum donation for international runners is US$200.
The route will wind past many of Luang Prabang’s top attractions such as Phousi Hill, the former Royal Palace and Wat Wisunalat; and will include three kilometres along the tranquil Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. Runners can choose to compete in 7km, 14km or 21km categories.
One of the race’s sponsoring hotels, Villa Maly, is welcoming runners in town for the half-marathon with a special deal over the nights of October 11 and 12, 2014. A 33-room boutique hotel nestled in a former royal residence just outside the heritage town, Villa Maly’s Runners’ Package features two nights’ stay in a superior room with breakfast, pre- and post-race massages, round-trip airport pickups and transport to and from the race’s starting line. Rates for the package start at US$300 per room for single occupancy and US$438 for double sharing.