Hoang Le Quyen participate in the Mu Cang Chai Half Marathon last year. Photo courtesy of Hoang Le Quyen

“I can’t believe that I am involving running which has in some ways changed my life,” said Quyen.

The journalist was inspired by her older sister who is part of amateur running groups in Hanoi.

“When she showed me a medal from the 42km category from a marathon in 2018, I shouted out ‘you are crazy!’

“I was very surprised as standing in front of me was a new person who was very afraid of track-and-field as a girl. She nearly fainted during a contest at school. But she could not only run well but also finished a marathon.”

Admiring her sister’s determination and spirit, Quyen decided to run because if "she could do, then I could too".

“In the first days, I was exhausted after only 300m around my building. Gradually I learned and adjusted my steps, posture and pace to run longer and better. After a short time, I could run up to 7km and increase distance days after days,” said Quyen who joined her first long-distance race in autumn 2019 in Hanoi, running 15km around the West Lake.

A week later she made a debut in the international Hanoi Heritage Marathon’s 21km class.

“I was surprised and really happy that I crossed the finish line in good condition. It was a strong push for me and I was confident to take part in professional events such as the National Marathon Championship, Hanoi Marathon ASEAN and Mu Cang Chai Half Marathon last year.

“Running requires patience and determination. When running you will feel your best in both physical and mental terms. I am stronger, look younger, have become more active and work better,” said Quyen.

“In the COVID-19 period, people's lives have been forced to change. We must adapt to the new normal but I kept running which changes my lifestyle. I think simply of life, listen to my body and take care of my health and most importantly I encourage my family to run.”

Also living in Hanoi, runner Nguyen Viet Anh has been marathoning for nearly a decade after an "accident".

“It was Tet holiday in 2013. I ate and drank a lot. When I got back to work, I could not get in any trousers because of my big fat belly,” said Anh.

“After several months failing to lose weight, I turned running. It was not easy in the first days. I ran about 700m and had to pause to breathe hard. Only a short distance but I had to break to shorter ones and sandwiched with walking.’

Anh soon mastered West Lake and is now a regular face around the lake, no matter the weather.

“It is great to see a big change. I maintain my dream weight with a firm body and an over-70cm belly. Running helps me be more patient and frees me from stress. I can work better and be stronger against diseases,” he said.

Runner Minh Kha crosses a finish line at a marathon in Hue with sub 5 as planned. Photo of Minh Kha

Reporter Minh Kha also has special memories after running more than 1,000km this year.

Kha just wanted to improve his health joined a gym in 2017. But the boring environment and loneliness pushed him outdoors.

“Since late 2018 when I improved my strength and speed, I dreamed of being in the 1 per cent of people who can run a marathon in the world. Failure in the first trials strongly encouraged me and I finally reached my target of sub 5 (finish 42km under five hours) and happy finish at the Longbien Marathon and VnExpress Marathon Hue in late 2020,” Kha recalled.

Kha said thanks to running he could turn down alcohol which had weakened his muscles for many years. He also receives positive energy in the destinations that he passes by.

“Nothing else can give me such wonderful memories. I have new friends and new running partners including my wife and kids who ran with me in Hanoi, Hue and Quy Nhon,” said Kha.

“I also have the chance to discover the beauty of cities and provinces which you may think you know every corner of. You may have learnt by heart with Long Bien Bridge, West Lake and Old Quarter but enjoying them by running on an early, fresh morning is really a different feeling,” he said.

“Running helps me overcome my own limits and try new experiences. So, don’t wonder about running, just run and feel.” 

Run for vaccine

People run at the Ho Tay Half Marathon 2020. Ho Tay track is one of challenge to beat for any runner in Hanoi. Photo of bigprize.vn 

People run not only for their health. They run for the community’s strength too.

Nearly 6,000 athletes have registered to run at the virtual 'V-Race’s Run for Vaccine' which aims to raise funds to support the Government's COVID-19 vaccine fund.

Entitled United Steps, the race will give 100 per cent of the entrance fee from participants to the fund. Launched on June 2, organisers have collected about VND710 million (US$31,000) and expect to reach more with registration open until July 18.

Phan Hong Anh joined the race on the first day and registered for the 42km category.

“I have run for about one year mainly to improve my health after gyms were closed because of the COVID-19. I don’t know clearly why but since I started running I am stronger and my headaches, dizziness and short breath have gone,” said Anh who can now run nearly 10km and expects to take part in the Ha Giang Discovery Marathon in October.

“I knew about this race through friends in the Run for Self Group. While the whole people join hands to fight COVID-19 how can I stand aside? I still keep doing exercise for myself while giving my humble contribution to the people,” Hanoi-based Anh told Việt Nam News.

Meanwhile from HCM City, Hoang Long Dat shared his certificates from participating in different tournaments such as Run for Youth and Vietnam’s Bravery. He is also a runner of the Run for Vaccine.

“Want to be strong? You have to do sport. Love your country? You must be strong. So you should improve your physique every day,” Dat told Việt Nam News.

The 36-year-old added that the race is virtual but the contribution is real.

“I get many benefits from running so I try to give back as much as possible. If we can contribute [to resist the pandemic], do it,” he said.

At the same time, 'Happy Family-Community Fight COVID' is also being held online.

Organisers hope to promote an active healthy lifestyle that maintains social distance and safety standards through their race which will end on July 9. To date, more than $53,600 has been collected and will be presented to HCM City’s Fatherland Front’s Fund for COVID-19 Control and Protection.

In addition, 'Run Now to Fight COVID' is ongoing till July 18 with hundreds of participants who run for free but hope to raise people’s awareness of improving their health for COVID-19 protection.

Earlier, many other races were held for the same purpose.

'Strong Việt Nam – Việt Nam Destroy COVID' which closed in March raised more than $10,300 from runners.

Throughout the duration of the event, every VND20,000 from each registered participant as well as any donation made by runners was used as emergency relief for people in Hai Duong Province.

Meanwhile, 'Run Fight against Corona' organisers received $32,000 to support COVID-19 victims.

“Virtual races allow us to perform everywhere at any time. We run for a better and stronger life and hope to spread an image of safe Vietnam. We hope the pandemic is under control and we will have our real normal life back,” said runner Tran Tieu Phuong.

Source: Vietnam News

Runners overcome challenges amid COVID-19

Runners overcome challenges amid COVID-19

 Nguyen Dat is no stranger to marathons, but the one he just completed was something special.