For Ly Nary, the dream of being recognized as one of the best female runners in Asia and the world has not ceased up to this day.
Not until she finally plants her foot on the Olympic stadium while wearing the proud colors of her beloved Cambodia.
Nary, 41, recently added another milestone under her name when she finished second in the 42-kilometer (foreign) female category of the Run United Philippine Marathon (RUPM), the third and last leg of the RunRio Trilogy, sponsored by Unilab Active Health (ULAH). She clocked in less than 10-second behind first placer Susan Jemutai in the 18-34 year-old category, and ahead of Camille Chua in the 35-39 year-old category.
“In Cambodia, females usually just stay home and become mere homemakers,” said Nary, acknowledged as Cambodia’s first and currently only female marathon runner. “They think that getting involved in competitive sports is a crazy idea, which is why I strive to continue running to inspire the younger generation of Cambodians.”
Cambodia’s National Olympic Committee and United Pharma were responsible for sending Nary and another RUPM participant, Bunting Hem, to compete here as a prize for recently winning the 2013 Phnom Penh International Half Marathon.
The “running” scientist
Nary, who also works as a research scientist focusing on pathogen research, confessed that she is actually a late bloomer when it comes to running competitively, having started in 2009 at the age of 37.
“Before, I was already into sports—volleyball and tae kwon do—so I can really say that I have always lived an active life,” shares Nary. “When I went to New York (to pursue a post-doctorate degree), I got involved in the local running club it started to nurture my fondness for running.”
After successfully finishing her first-ever full marathon in New York, Nary went on to compete in other races internationally. To this day, she has already completed a total of six races in different countries, such as New York, France, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
Running is more fun in the Philippines
“Running here in the Philippines is actually more fun and more enjoyable because it is less competitive, unlike in other countries where people really push themselves to the limit,” narrated Nary. “Here, you can run on the street and let cars pass by. You can even run with your friends and chat and take pictures as you go along.”
Nary was one of only 37 foreign runners from 17 different countries who took part at RUPM recently. Spectators applauded Marathon finishers as they made their way towards the finish line at SM Mall of Asia.
Others who topped their respective categories were Richard Salano, Benjamin Kipzaki, and August Benedicto (men’s category), and Nancy Papaya, Edith Felix, and Bic Ferreria (women’s category) of Hydrite 10K; Samuel Tarus Too, Bunting Hem, and Ben Rana (men), Nhea Ann Barcena, Alexis Casap-Hanson, and Liezl Mahilum (women) for Alaxan FR 21K.
Jackson Chirchir, meanwhile, topped the Enervon Activ 42K foreign men’s category, followed by Douglas Mwitti and Philip Ronoh. Rene Desuyo, Elkin John Quinto, and Mario Maglinao lorded over the men’s category (local) of the 42K leg, while Janette Agura, Elijeran Jocelyn, and Gella Mayang rounded up the top three spots for the women’s category.