Integrating sports with culture

AYUTTHAYA, Thailand, Oct. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — More than 2,000 runners from across the world experienced the fun of integrating sports with cultural exploration at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya, Thailand, on Sunday morning.

Ayutthaya Run Run — Fun with History was co-hosted by China Daily, the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Young Entrepreneur Chamber of Commerce, and RVi Group.

Three events were included in the race — a 21-kilometer mini-marathon, a 10-km challenge, and a 6-km "fun run". Participants from many countries, including China, Singapore, New Zealand, South Africa, Myanmar and Thailand, ran along three routes, taking in the breathtaking sights of Ayutthaya.

Ayutthaya — a historic city founded in 1350 as the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom — was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Starting from the old City Hall, runners passed through several famous historical venues, including Wat Kasatrathiraj, Wat Lokayasutharam, Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Ram.

"I was so excited participating in such a wonderful event that promotes a healthy lifestyle, cultural knowledge and friendship," said Amornrat, 68, who drove for an hour from Saraburi province to join the 10-km challenge.

"I began running at the age of 60. For a healthy life with sports and fun, I believe it’s never too late to start. We welcome more such events connecting our country with the world to be held in the future," she said.

Following the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the event marked a significant milestone as the first of its kind to be organized in Ayutthaya, which used to be the center of global diplomacy and commerce in Southeast Asia.

"As running has become a popular trend, we’ll continue to promote such a healthy lifestyle through events with the elements of sports, history and arts," said Zhou Li, deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily Group and publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific.

"China and Thailand enjoy a historical friendship and long-term partnership. We hope the event can serve as a bridge to connect people from China and Thailand, as well as other countries, further promoting exchanges and communications," he said.

To celebrate the 48th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China, a selfie point was set up at the 4.8-kilometer mark for runners to take photos.

"This is an unforgettable experience. Along the routes with amazing historical sites, we actually saw people with a great variety of costumes representing those of various countries and regions," said Leung Wai-shing, a college student from Hong Kong who is studying at Peking University in Beijing.

Participating in the 6-km fun run offered a great chance to see such a great variety of cultures that collide with each other, he said. "This truly reflects the definitions of diversity and harmony."

Floods have severely affected Watprasatthon School in the Bang Ban district of Ayutthaya in the past few weeks. Net proceeds raised from the run will be donated to support the school’s recovery efforts, and each runner has helped to rebuild the local community’s educational infrastructure.

"We’re happy to support such an event in Ayutthaya. Some runners are very experienced, while others are beginners. All those taking part are passionate about sports and charity," said Niwat Rungsakorn, governor of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya province.

"Apart from the donation to the school, the event also contributed to the growth of the local economy and tourism. It attracted many foreign participants and has increased exchanges among various nations, which is very encouraging," he added.

More than 200 runners from seven different age groups received medals and special prizes, such as for "Best Costumes". Among the medalists, the first 100 who scanned the QR code and posted it on their Facebook page also received a commemorative medal.

"The race is the first major public event held after the pandemic, showing the economy is recovering," said Patcharabooon Sublom, president of the Young Entrepreneur Chamber of Commerce in Ayutthaya.

Aimed at strengthening communication and friendship among countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, China Daily had also hosted an international friendship run in Bagan, Myanmar, in 2019.

During the event in Bagan, 5 million Myanmar kyats ($2,400) was raised from participants’ registration fees, and donated to Bagan’s heritage and sustainable development, the Myanmar Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, the Bagan Plastic Campaign, the Bagan Guide Association and the Ananda Pagoda Board of Trustees to promote tourism development in the country.

Following the completion of the Ayutthaya race, a forum themed "Entrepreneurship Insights" was held, with discussions among young entrepreneurs and representatives from Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore and China.

"In the past few years, there have been dramatic changes in the world economy. E-business is now definitely one of the most eye-catching trends," said Joephy Chan Wing-yan, a lawmaker and former district councilor of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Leading a group of key opinion leaders from the SAR, Chan and her team took part in both the forum and the fun run. At the forum, she cited a recent survey in Hong Kong, which showed that a great number of young people now prefer to work online by building themselves up as internet influencers.

"The online platform helps us to think in advance amid a changing world. Many agencies are trying to find the talents with language advantages to promote their products in international markets," she said.

Chan said she believes that young entrepreneurs can position themselves and succeed in cross-border e-commerce. She said a union has been formed by about 100 young online influencers in Hong Kong, and they’re ready to cooperate with partners from Thailand and other countries.

At the forum, young representatives from Thailand also shared their views on how to develop tradition businesses with innovation and new ideas.

"While many young people now focus on new things, I think there’s another way to make changes by  elevating traditional products with new ideas," said Tanarat Ratanachiuchukorn, managing director of Chotakkarasuchin Co — a Thai enterprise engaged in the production of fresh agricultural products.

He said Thailand has great potential with its history, fashion, food and culture. "Young people can invigorate traditional businesses with new ideas, and better demonstrate the country’s uniqueness to the world," he added.

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Source: Integrating sports with culture