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Thai marathon sees close to 20,000 participants in return to in-person racing

The comeback of live races continued with Saturday's Buriram Marathon in Thailand

Photo by: JRNHeadlines/Twitter

In Canada, we’re still eagerly awaiting the return of in-person and mass-participation events, but in other countries, live races have already made a comeback. The latest event that has Canadian runners jealous was the Buriram Marathon in Thailand, which saw thousands participants running across three race distances. 


Returning races 

The Buriram Marathon is held in a town with the same name that is about 370K from Bangkok. It’s a World Athletics Silver Label road race, making it the only marathon in Thailand with that certification, and it has run every year since 2017. The event features a marathon, a half-marathon and a 10K, all of which are run at night due to Buriram’s hot and humid weather. 

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The Buriram Marathon was a huge event, and it joined races in other countries that have slowly brought races back, including Japan, New Zealand and the U.S. In Japan, there have been literally hundreds of road races since last summer. A report from November noted that these Japanese races had collectively hosted close to 700,000 runners, and the country has continued to hold events since then. 

In New Zealand, life has been relatively normal for most of the pandemic, and in November, 14,000 runners lined up to race the Auckland Marathon. Finally, in the U.S., there have been a number of road races throughout the pandemic, and some of the country’s biggest events, like the Boston Marathon, are expected to run this fall. 

Why not Canada?

It’s easy to look at these countries that are holding races and get frustrated with the racing scene in Canada. Before getting upset, though, consider the bigger picture. Thailand has handled COVID-19 very well, and the country has only seen around 29,000 cases out of its population of 69 million since the start of the pandemic. 

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Japan has seen many more cases, totalling about 119,000 so far, but this is still a small percentage of the country’s population of more than 126 million people. In New Zealand, COVID-19 is basically nonexistent, registering just 2,400 cases in over a year of this pandemic. 

Finally, there’s the U.S., where 30 million of the 328 million people in the country have caught the virus. The numbers are better in Canada, but we’re still close to one million cases of COVID-19. In the cases of Thailand, New Zealand and Japan, the COVID-19 numbers are quite low, meaning it’s much safer to hold races.

In the U.S., it’s a different story, and while they’re holding races, their numbers are extremely high. Canada is caught somewhere in the middle, and while it would be wonderful to line up for a real race, it’s just not safe enough yet. So be jealous of Thailand, Japan, New Zealand and any other country with races right now, but don’t get too irked by the situation — races will be back soon enough, we just have to wait a bit longer. 

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