Review: Bangkok Marathon – Bangkok, Thailand (November 15, 2015)

Overview

  • Race Name: Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon
  • Date: November 15, 2015
  • Country: Thailand (4th country)
  • Start Time: 2am
  • Cutoff Time: 6 hours
  • Hotel: Baan Chart Hotel (3.5 star)
  • Size: 3,646 in marathon, 19,404 in all races
  • Course: Out/Back on freeway, mostly dark
  • Scenery: Bad, pretty last 10km after sunrise
  • Hills: Flat course
  • Weather: Hot and Humid
  • Water Stops: Water with ice and energy drinks
  • Bathrooms: Bathrooms in truck, side of freeway
  • Crowd Support: first 3km and last 10km
  • Registration: Easy, packet pickup indoors at major rail station

Travel

I flew to Bangkok in First Class on Cathay Pacific via NYC and Hong Kong. Once in Bangkok, I stayed with a friend for two nights before moving to my hotel, near Khao San Road.

I registered and booked hotels about three months before the start and selection was limited near the start line. Baan Chart was about a 10 minute walk to the start and when I left my hotel at 1:15am to head to the race, Khao San was in full swing.

Khao San is very cheap and close to a lot of tourist attractions. It is difficult to get to and if you time it wrong, you can get stuck in the worst traffic jam on the planet. I was in an Uber with an average speed of 15 mph for 42 minutes and spent less than $4.

The Race

This was my fourth marathon and my least favorite of the five I ran in 2015. Fortunately, my experience was not nearly as bad as the poor souls who wanted to run the half.

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 2.16.23 PM

The full marathon started at 2am and was very well attended. The start time simplified road closures and minimized the SE Asian heat and humidity. The late start also meant the majority of the race was pitch black and there was zero crowd support until the last couple miles.

Almost half of the course was a mind-numbing out and back on an elevated freeway. The highlight falls between the 29th and 30th km mark when you cross over the Rama VIII Bridge. Unfortunately, it was pretty dark and underwhelming.

bkk marathon map
2015 Bangkok Marathon Course Map

Every water station on the course serves ice water and without it you will come seriously close to overheating.The Bangkok Marathon was the first race I’ve run with ice in water cups. Lots of ice. They also had trucks with long indoor bathrooms at some of the stops, but I opted to pee on the side of the freeway. This is something I’m always hesitant to do in another country, but I saw other people doing it so I went for it.

The average marathon time was 5 hours 31 minutes and morning rush really started to pickup around 6am. Pay attention at the intersections in the last 10km. The city of Bangkok has some amazing attractions and it felt like the course purposefully avoided all of them. The saving grace was that the start/finish area was in front of the Grand Palace. The Grand Palace and the temples and shrines in the immediate area are stunning. The race organizers definitely made us eat our vegetables first.

My favorite thing about this marathon was the race bibs. I really like when bibs have country flags on them. The flags make for good people watching and it’s always fun to bump into Americans and Swedes in other countries.

I’m happy to check Thailand off my marathon list and have no plans to run another Bangkok marathon in the near future. Going forward, I recommend the Chiang Mai Marathon for marathoners interested in racing in Thailand. Chiang Mai is my favorite city in Thailand and it is spectacular to visit. Chiang Mai is in northwest Thailand and the marathon is in late December. Temperatures should be lower than Bangkok.

Check out a short video of my trip below, including the 2015 Mt Fujisan Marathon, and join me on my marathon journey via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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