The Bagan Temple Marathon features three distances:
Full marathon - 42.195km/26.2mi
Half marathon - 21.1km/13.1mi
The Bagan Temple Marathon starts and finishes at Htilominlo Temple, built in 1211 and known for its fine plaster carvings.
The first part of the route is the same for all three distances, and the route converges again at approximately 13km for half-marathoners and 35km for the marathon runners.
The first 8km are shared by all distances. The first 5km are run on dirt roads through the plains of Bagan towards Old Bagan. Runners will be treated to magnificent views of thousand-year-old temples and pagodas. After a short 1km stretch on asphalt through Old Bagan, runners are back on dirt roads for a while.
10K runners continue through Old Bagan until the 8km mark, at which point they turn back to Htilominlo Temple and the finish line.
As marathon and half-marathon runners reach the 11km mark and its water station, they'll pass the Dhammayazika Pagoda. At this point, the full- and half-marathon runners separate: marathon runners will turn right whereas half-marathon participants go left.
Half-marathon runners continue 1km on an asphalt road until they take another left onto dirt tracks which lead into the small village of West Pwazaw. After passing the village, roughly 2km later, the route converges again with the full marathon course.
The full marathoners turn right after the Dhammayakiza Pagoda at the 11km mark. They carry on towards New Bagan, but instead of entering New Bagan, runners continue onto a sandy path and enter what feels like a different realm. See ox carts laden with grain plodding on the sandy track, wave to farmers tending their rice and peanut fields, and be prepared to high-five gaggles of children decked out in their festive clothing waiting to say hello. It feels like time has been standing still in this remote corner of the world.
At 22km, runners enter the beautiful Nyaungdo village. The surface is now back to being a dirt road and the course continues onto a dam with a view to the right of a stunning mountain-top pagoda, Tuyin Taung Pagoda. Palm-fringed fields lie below to the left and the spires of Bagan’s temples shimmer in the distance.
From 26-30km, runners continue on an asphalt road which is not closed off to traffic, so remember to keep to the left.
The route then continues onto a dirt road and through the fields until another village is reached. The course takes you through East Pwazaw village where the residents are likely to be outside their homes cheering you on! This small village, with its palm-leaf roofs and warm residents, will undoubtedly give you a boost of energy to carry on.
A dirt trail connects the marathon route to West Pwazaw village, where the marathon course meets the half-marathon course. After West Pwazaw village, the course continues through the plains of Bagan and runners are again rewarded with views of the historic temples.
At this point, the surface becomes asphalt for about 1km before reverting back to dirt tracks again. The final stretch is a mix of dirt and asphalt surfaces before the long-awaited finish line is in sight back at Htilominlo Temple.
The route is marked with red and white caution tape, arrow signs, and kilometer markers. At crucial sections, race crew will point runners in the correct direction.
Kilometer signs are color-coded according to the distance they represent. Marathon = black, half-marathon = red and 10KM = green. There is a chance that some kilometer signs will be knocked down by a passing ox-cart, so it is best to follow the caution tape and the arrow signs.
The route is not closed for traffic and Saturday is a working day in and around Bagan. While locals are likely to be polite and make way for you, please also be prepared to make room for the locals whether they pass you riding on a motorcycle, a bike, or an ox-cart.
Water stations will be positioned along the route at approximately every 4 kilometers. Some stations will also serve energy drinks, bananas, and energy gels. Personal supplies can be deposited at the start/finish area, which marathon runners will pass through halfway through their race.
Please see the route map for aid station specifics.
The marathon, half marathon and 10K race start and finish in front of Htilominlo Temple.
All races start together at 6:15 am.
Bagan Temple Marathon is run on a mixture of trails and roads. Some stretches of the route are on paved roads (asphalt), while the majority is run on dirt tracks, with some sandy sections. The route is relatively flat.