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 full and half marathon runners. And the last section starting at approximately 13km for the half marathoners and 35km for the marathon runners, the route converges.
After the start, 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.
The course continues on asphalt for about 1km before hitting the dirt road again as runners carry on across Bagan. The next 5km are on dirt roads.
10K runners follow the same route as the full and half marathons until the course reaches Old Bagan where they turn back to Htilominlo Temple and the finish line.
As you reach the 11km mark and the water station there, you pass the Dhammayazika Pagoda. At this point, the full and half marathon runners part ways.
Marathon runners turn right whereas half marathon contestants go left.
Half Marathon runners
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 and roughly 2km later, the route crosses paths 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. The course takes runners on a journey of discovery. See ox carts laden with grain plodding on the sandy track. Wave to farmers tending their rice and peanut fields. Be prepared to high five gaggles of children decked out in their festive clothes 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 the view to the right of a stunning mountain-top pagoda, Tuyin Taung Pagoda. To the left, the palm-fringed fields lie below 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 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 and 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.
The marathon and half marathon routes meet
A dirt trail connects the route to West Pwazaw village where the marathon route 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.