Almost 4,300 Vietnam-based runners from 41 nations will race from 5km to 70km on trails through the orchards and tea fields of Moc Chau District, Son La Province at the Vietnam Trail Marathon (VTM) on Saturday.
During the event, Vietnam’s top homegrown talent will compete with expat runners and celebrities.
|The Vietnam Trail Marathon this year will begin on Saturday. Photo courtesy of the organiser|
The VTM was founded in 2019 and in its first edition, the race welcomed nearly 2,000 runners from 39 nations. This year, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of runners at the event is up by almost 40 per cent compared to 2020.
The race is well-known for the natural beauty of the course and friendly and hospitable locals. The route will take runners through blossom orchards, stunning trails, past remote villages and will eventually finish at the Doi Che Trai Tim (Heart Tea Hill), offering an opportunity to discover the majestic trails of Moc Chau.
Like other races by the organiser Topas, each long-distance (21km-70km) entry includes a donation to charity. Almost US$30,134 will be divided between local projects around Moc Chau, the work of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, life-changing surgery for children through Operation Smile, and saving lives through Newborns Vietnam.
|The Vietnam Trail Marathon is well-known for the natural beauty of the region and friendly and hospitable locals. — Photo courtesy of the organiser|
France versus Vietnam
In the men’s 70km distance race, last year’s second-place runner, Do Trong Nhon, will return. He will compete with his compatriot Quang Nguyen who finished third in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon (VMM) 100km and Vietnam Jungle Marathon (VJM) 70km event.
They will face two strong runners from France, namely Gaetan Morizur and Valentin Orange, who were both on the VMM podium last year.
In the women’s ultra field, the first, second and fourth place of the VTM 2020 Nguyen Thi Duong, Nguyen and Hien Tran will be back to compete again.
While Duong beat Dung into second place at the VTM last year, Dung won the VJM 2020. This will be the first time since then the two have gone head to head, so it promises to be an interesting race.
They will both have to compete with a strong contender of France, Axelle de Feraudy, who won the VMM 42km two months ago. Two other Vietnamese contenders are Ha Thi Hau, VMM 21km champion, and Le Tham Thuy Hang, third place at the VJM 55km.
This will be Hau’s first ultra race and it will be interesting to see if her fierce shorter distance speed can translate to a much longer test.
In the 42km category, last year’s champion Markus Gnirck of Germany will return and so will the overall Vietnam Trail Series marathon champ Trinh Nam Hai of Vietnam. They both have to compete with double VMM 100km champion Nguyễn Tiến Hùng who also took second place at the VTM 21km last year.
In the female battle, two strong French contenders Nathalie Cochet and Constance Louasse will compete with an elite runner of Vietnam, Leo Thi Tinh, who took third place at the VTM 42km last year, and Elizabeth Charles, second place at the VJM 25km.
|A runner enjoys the beautiful view around him at the Vietnam Trail Marathon last year. — Photo courtesy of the organiser|
Vietnamese celebrity runners
On the 42km start line this year will be two Operation Smile ambassadors including singer Duc Tuan and traveller Tran Dang Dang Khoa who travelled around the world on his motorbike. They both ran the VMM in Sapa in November last year and will run at the Vietnam Trail Marathon for the first time.
Also running for Operation Smile Vietnam will be Miss Vietnam 2006 Mai Phuong Thuy. She will run the 10km race.
In the 70km division this year, Trang Ha, the ‘running writer’ will run for the first time. She has also signed up for the 70km distance at the Vietnam Mountain Marathon 2021 on August 27-29 in Sa Pa and Vietnam Jungle Marathon 2021 to be held at the stunning Pu Luong Nature Reserve in the central province of Thanh Hoa on October 16.
“I will spend this whole year to run all the races of Vietnam Trail Series. Topas’s organisation is really great, so though this is the first time I run the VTM, I believe I will enjoy every moment along the VTM course," said Trang Ha.
“My goal is to finish the race before 11pm and become an ultramarathoner before I am 50 years old.” VNS
More than 3,000 athletes from 42 countries and territories competed in the 2020 Vietnam Trail Marathon in Moc Chau district of the northern mountainous province of Son La on January 11.
Records tumbled at the Vietnam Jungle Marathon (VJM) over the weekend as all distances from 10km to 70km saw new course records broken by Vietnam-based runners thanks to the event being held during cooler weather in October.