Bangkok’s running scene is booming. With three more confirmed races in February alone and a stacked calendar right through the year, there’s plenty of motivation to join the leagues of enthusiasts pounding our pavements.
See also: 5 upcoming running events in Bangkok
Looking for people to run with? Check out the running community at www.meetup.com/Bangkok-Runners. They use the global network of local groups, Meetup.com, to organize training sessions around Bangkok. It’s been going since 2012 and now has over 400 members of various nationalities. Many of their events (they had seven scheduled for Feb when we checked) are geared at training for specific races across the country. They also welcome anyone to come and join on two or three runs before signing up for the group. www.bangkokrunners.com
MIKKELLER RUNNING CLUB
The good folks behind Ekkamai’s best beer house also operate a monthly running club, part of a worldwide network of runners started by the Danish Mikkeller brand. Mikkeller Running Club Bangkok only held its first event in Jan, with the next one scheduled for Feb 7. If running around Bangkok followed by an icy pilsner sounds up your street, then become a lifetime (and global) member for B500 (which gets you a nifty T-shirt, too). www.mikkellerbangkok.com, 02-381-9891
SAVATHORN RUNNING CLUB
This running club focuses on promoting healthy habits and community. Though run by Sathavorn Chanpongsri, the first Thai man to win a medal in the SEA Games marathon, it is absolutely non-competitive, and open for anyone to join. Simply check the meet-ups on their Facebook page. www.fb.com/SathavornRunningCub
THE BANGKOK MONDAY HASH HOUSE HARRIERS
These guys claim to be the oldest running community in Bangkok. Founded in 1977 by Englishman Bob Boulter (or as he’s known in the club, the Grand Master), they’ve faithfully met every Monday ever since to run around the footpaths on the outskirts of Bangkok followed by a beer. Up to 30 people turn up each Monday at 5:30pm, paying a fee of B200 (men) or B150 (women) each—which covers the post-run beer, too. Though the Monday group is Bangkok’s oldest, they’re actually part of a larger network of running social clubs known as hashers—visit their website for the full list of groups. www.bangkokmondayhhh.com
For a regular stream of updates on the latest running events and races in Thailand, head to www.runthailand.com. The website has a calendar of upcoming events, results from past events, a shop and also a hotel booking service for outof-town races. Note that it’s only in English. See below for an interview with the founder.
JOG AND JOY
JOG AND JOY
You’ll have run into Jog & Joy a few times if you’re a regular Bangkok runner. Their website, www.jogandjoy.com, provides regular updates on running events around Thailand, and also serves as an online-registration platform. They also organize their own competitions around Thailand, like the Singha Cha Am Beach Bikini Beach Run, taking place Mar 13.
WALK JOG RUN
If running in parks isn’t your thing, try visiting www.walkjogrun.net, which maps out various sidewalk running routes across the city. The website is global, but there are plenty of routes submitted by local users—we found 109 different routes spread across Bangkok—including information on distance and terrain.
BEST RUNNING SHOPS
ARI RUNNING CONCEPT STORE
Using the wrong types of sneakers can seriously strain your ankles and soles. Ari Running Concept Store at CentralWorld offers a 30-minute in-depth analysis service dubbed the Digital Gait Analysis, which requires customers to run barefooted on a treadmill for five to ten minutes while the staff records a video of their running stance. Data is then put through a computer program to determine, from the way you run, which type of feet you have, and which shoes would be best suited for you. Sneakers generally start from B4,000, with the more costly ones going up to B7,000.
3/F, CentralWorld, Ratchadamri Rd. 02-252-8680. BTS Siam/Chid Lom
NIKE SIAM SQUARE ONE
This isn’t just the biggest Nike store in Southeast Asia; it’s also one of the best places you can go to browse running gear. The two-floor shop offers soccer and basketball gear on the bottom floor, while the upper floor is dedicated solely to running. Inside, you’ll find everything from shoes (from B4,000) to clothing (from B890). The staff are also pretty well trained on what sneakers you might need for your foot type.
1/F, Siam Square One, Rama I Rd., 02-252-2270. BTS Siam
Where: Rama IV Rd., across the road from Silom Rd. and Dusit Thani hotel.
One-lap distance: 2.5km
Who runs there: Everyone and their grandma (if she’s not there to do Tai Chi with her friends)
When’s it open: 5am-9pm
We like: It’s wide open but there’s also plenty of shade; it’s filled with serious runners; there are showers and lockers available for rent.
We dislike: There are tales of robbery and assault late at night; everyone goes there.
Where: Ratchadapisek Rd., right next to Queen Sirikit Convention Center (direct access via MRT)
One-lap distance: 1.8km
Who runs there: People living and working around Asoke and Klong Toei
When’s it open: 5am-9pm
We like: There are fewer people than Lumphini, it’s arguably more picturesque and close to both BTS and MRT stations.
We dislike: The route is short; there are no showers or lockers.
Where: Sukhumvit Rd., right next to The Emporium. BTS Phrom Pong
One-lap distance: 700 meters
Who runs there: Japanese expats; the wealthy and beautiful elite of Bangkok.
When’s it open: 5am-9pm
We like: It’s right next to BTS Phrom Phong; there are showers and lockers for rent.
We dislike: It’s tiny; there are lots of tourists; other runners are too good looking.
Suan Rod Fai
SUAN ROD FAI
Where: Kampang Petch Rd., near Chatuchak market
One-lap distance: 3km
Who runs there: Lower Lad Phrao office workers
We like: It’s quiet and spacious; there’s plenty of shade from the trees; it has showers, lockers and bikes to rent; there’s even a swimming pool if you’re working towards a triathlon
We dislike: The teenage couples composing photo-shoots on weekends; the hoards of cyclists after 5pm; the often uneven concrete pathways.
SUAN LUANG RAMA IX PARK
Where: Chalerm Prakiat Rd., a short ways away from Paradise Park.
One-lap distance: about 5 km
Who runs there: People living in the Banga-Trat or Udomsuk areas; a few merchants from the Rod Fai Market nearby who want to break a sweat before setting up shop.
When’s it open: 5am-9pm
We like: Very, very spacious, with plenty of gardens of different shapes and sizes along the way.
We dislike: No BTS or MRT means runners can only get there by braving the horrendous traffic.
Admin of runthailand.com
How long have you been running in Bangkok?
I moved to Bangkok five years ago, and I felt running was an easy way to exercise and keep myself in shape. You don’t need a team or any special gear to do it.
In that time, have you seen a change in the number of people at running events?
Absolutely! When I first started participating in events five years ago, there were way fewer people attending. You could walk up to the desk in front of the event on race-day and register right then and there because so many spots would still be vacant. Now though, registrations fill up months in advance.
How does Bangkok stack up as a city for runners?
Honestly, Bangkok isn’t exactly the ideal place for running. It’s passable, but definitely not ideal. The traffic conditions are always challenging, the temperature is always hot and the bumpy, uneven sidewalks are cramped with stalls. You really need to start very early in the morning to get the best experience out of running in Bangkok.
Are most people that attend events competitive or not?
It skews towards the casual, noncompetitive side. A lot of people I know are only recreational or hobby runners who view it as a productive way to hang out with friends. Generally, though, the atmosphere tends to vary from event to event. Some events are definitely much more competitive than others.
Where do you usually run?
Along Sukhumvit Road in the morning, when the heat isn’t too bad. I also often run in the parks around the city—my favorite is Lumphini Park by far. I find that one lap around the park is just about right for me. I also enjoy the fact that there are always tons of activities going on, which makes running much more interesting.