All the way around

What it's like when you enter the Kyoto Marathon loop

Phairat, Nampetch, Napassaporn and Sarawut at the finish line in front of the Heian Shrine.

It is hardly a surprise that despite being among the 10 most expensive marathons in the world, the Kyoto Marathon is the eighth-most-registered. Perhaps the picturesque mountains, free strawberries from spectators and smiling monks lend a hand. With 16,000 runners from around the world landing in this old capital and another 15,000 volunteers all along the 42km route, it's an event of a grand scale that sees the whole city on shutdown with people coming together to revitalise Kyoto through sport, especially since the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. After its devastating impact, the annual running competition has been the city's global promotion strategy to present the wonders and green environment of Kyoto to the world -- all in a most organised and orderly manner.

Last month, CW-X, the sportswear arm of underwear authority Wacoal -- one of the main co-sponsors of the Kyoto Marathon this year -- flew in a squad of four Thai runners to participate in the event. A week of hanging out with these iron champions in Kyoto, pre- and post-marathon, provided insight into how the world of running fanatics functions.

"They aren't the best runners with the best times, but they are chosen because they're the most fitting personalities," explains Kanchit Srivicha, Thailand's CW-X brand manager. "Fu was picked because he gives to society by donating through sporting events, Ratchie because he is good rep for the younger demographic, Nam because she is an athletic role model who also teaches yoga, and Dr Eem for being the first Thai woman to conquer Mount Everest."

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