At 4.30 am on Sunday, 27 August 2023, the starting gun for Maybank Marathon 2023 will fire, officially marking the beginning of the 12th annual running competition that has, for many, become reason alone to visit the island.
Taking place in Gianyar, around the Bali Safari & Marine Park, the Maybank Marathon is the first and only ‘Elite’ label road race in the country. For Indonesian runners, this is the running event of the year, especially as an official qualifying race for other renowned races like the Boston Marathon.
This year the marathon has 13,600 registered participants across their three main running categories: Marathon (42.195 km), Half Marathon (21.0975 km) and 10K. This is a 37% increase from the previous year, though this is also due to lifted and eased travel restrictions. Nonetheless, this is a considerable population of runners. In terms of nationality, the majority of runners are from Indonesia, followed by participants from Malaysia, Japan, Singapore and Australia, proving to be a high-popularity running competition in the Asia-Oceania region, but a wealth of other nations are also running this year.
The Maybank Marathon routes will take runners through the rugged terrain of southeast Bali, as they run alongside the coast and up verdant hillsides. The races will start and finish along the Ida Bagus Rai Bypass, after which runners and supporters will enjoy the hospitality of the Race Village. Apart from the three main races, Maybank Marathon 2023 also hosts other competition categories, including a children sprint category and wheelchair category as in previous years.
Though many join a marathon as a personal challenge, with ‘completing’ the circuit already an achievement, the Maybank Marathon has impressive cash prizes for up to 86 winners with prize money reaching a total of IDR 2.7 billion ($178,000). Furthermore, through a debut collaboration with the Bangsaen42 Chonburi Marathon in Thailand, Maybank Indonesia will provide free running slots for a total of 40 Maybank Marathon 2023 finishers in the Marathon Open, National Marathon and Marathon Master categories. The Bangsaen42 Chonburi Marathon takes place in November 2023.
Maybank Marathon Project Director, Widya Permana said, “Since the Maybank Marathon 2023 was announced last January, the committee has made a series of preparations which include checking the running routes so that they are in prime condition and meet the standards and certifications set by World Athletics, as well as other supporting aspects to ensure the holding of the Maybank Marathon 2023 can take place safely and convenient for all participants.” This year, Maybank Marathon will deploy 45 pacers with skills in handling First Aid Emergency CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation).
The Maybank Marathon is a great example of how sports tourism can greatly benefit Bali, and that professional and world-class organisation can attract both domestic and international visitors to experience what the island already has to offer, without having to build and develop new “attractions”. With two major sports events cancelled last minute by the local authorities in 2023 — which were major blows for the island and its reputation — the marathon is a testament to the potential that sports events can provide, whether it is cycling, surfing, sailing, volleyball, rugby, football.