Monday, August 21 2017

VietNamNews

Birthday on top of the world

Update: July, 01/2017 - 09:00
Braving the weather: Nguyễn Duy Cường on the Everest mountain. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Duy Cường
Viet Nam News

It’s very special to celebrate one’s birthday five thousand metres above sea level on the world’s highest mountain.

Nguyễn Duy Cường had this experience while taking part in the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon.

When he reached the finishing line he tied the national flag of Việt Nam over his shoulders.

All birthdays are special, some more so.

Phạm Duy Cường’s 35th birthday was celebrated far away from the family, but his fellow athletes made it extra special by presenting a cake with candles in a tent at a height of 5,000m above sea level on Mount Everest.

 “It was a real surprise as no one can imagine a birthday cake at that height, when we all save room for the most essential belongings during the long trip,” Cường told Việt Nam News.

“I was very moved by my companions’ feelings for me.”

That was the warmest memory for Cường as he participated in the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon.

Reaching the finish line after the total time of 7 hours 47 minutes and 7 seconds, Cường ranked 71 among 202 runners in the 42km marathon at grueling heights.

The first prize in the full marathon category for men was taken by Suman Kulung (Nepal) with a total time of 3hr 43min and 57sec, and in the women’s category, Nirkala Rai (Nepal) was ahead of the rest with a time of 4hr 51min and 33sec.

The runners started at the Everest Base Camp at 5,364m and ran down to the finish line at Namche Bazaar Town, which stands at an altitude of 3,440m.

They spent half a month preparing for the trip. They climbed to the peak from the foot on May 16. Ten days later, they reached Gorak Shep, 4km from the Everest Base Camp. They spent two days at Gorak Shep to let their bodies familarise with the height and atmosphere. Then they moved to the Everest Base Camp and the race started on May 29 with the temperature at minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Cường restricted his belongings to some clothes, adding no food or dry nutrition to his pack.

“The most useful things for me were a solar-battery sheet and two rechargeable batteries for my mobile phone and camera,” he said.

He visited the Everest Base Camp in April, 2016 to get to know the area’s climate.

“I knew that this is a hard race that I must try my best to complete” he said.

In order to prepare for the race, he ran 13km each day, wearing a professional mountain training mask.

“Everest is always fierce. But people never give up their desire to conquer its peak,” he said.

“We spent the night in tents, so we felt the cold, hard weather. Each morning, I was given about 1.5 litres of warm water for personal washing. I often ordered the same amount of water to wash my clothes as I brought along very few clothes.”

Running a marathon on a mountain trail is quite difficult and tiring as the slippery, complicated terrain carries a high risk of injuries.

But Cường said the most difficult thing for him was the “rarefied atmosphere at the altitude of 5,400m with just 55 per cent of oxygen found in the plains. I felt as if I had no lungs when running”.

“Two days before the race, we saw an SOS team bring back dead bodies… we felt very scared.”

But following through on his careful preparations, Cường completed his race.

“When I was near the finish line, I felt as if an electric line ran through my body,” he recalled. “I took a national flag and tied it over my shoulders. When I reached the line, I felt as if I was a superman having finished the most challenging task. I felt both proud and extremely happy.”

The first thing he did on returning to Hà Nội on June 5 was donate some blood.

“I had blood drops trained at the height of 5,500m on the Everest. I wanted to donate them to others,” he said.

Endurance training

Cường has been known by the Long Distance Runner group in Hà Nội as Dr Dẻo (Dr Endurance, due to his ability to endure long practice sessions).

He now runs his own company producing coffee.

His push for endurance began with excessive indulgence.

He used to play football. After each match, he drank and ate a lot with his friends, which resulted in gout and disk herniation. When these problems peaked, Cường could not move his body an inch.

To improve his health, he started to practise running, from short to longer distances around the West Lake. After sometime, Cường was able to run 13km, as his health improved significantly.

He conquered his first 42.195km run at the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon held in Sa Pa at the end of September 2016.

Since then, Cường has participated in more than ten domestic and international marathon and half marathon races as well as Ironman and Champion Dash events.

He said he only started practising for the marathon at the end of August, 2016.

Cường is a member of Facebook group LDR for runners to exchange information and join practising events.

The group now has been run for three years and gathers more than 7,000 members nationwide.

“I have no advice to young people because I don’t even know if what I’m doing now is right,” he said with a big smile.

 “Right or wrong depends on each person. I just share my story so that other people can draw the good things for themselves. Each person knows what is good for him or her. To succeed in something, just spend all of your time, energy and mind on it.” — VNS

 


GLOSSARY

“It was a real surprise as no one can imagine a birthday cake at that height, when we all save room for the most essential belongings during the long trip,” Cường told Việt Nam News.

To imagine something means to create a picture about it in your mind.


“I was very moved by my companions’ feelings for me.”

 

To be moved means to be made to feel emotional about something.

That was the warmest memory for Cường as he participated in the Tenzing-Hillary Everest Marathon.

Warmest, in this case, means fondest.

Reaching the finish line after the total time of 7 hours 47 minutes and 7 seconds, Cường ranked 71 among 202 runners in the 42km marathon at gruelling heights.

Gruelling means extremely tiring.

They spent two days at Gorak Shep to let their bodies familarise with the height and atmosphere.

When their bodies familiarise themselves with the height and atmosphere, they become used to those two things.

Atmosphere means air pressure.

Cường restricted his belongings to some clothes, adding no food or dry nutrition to his pack.

By restricting his clothes he chose to take fewer rather than more clothes.

“The most useful things for me were a solar-battery sheet and two rechargeable batteries for my mobile phone and camera,” he said.

A solar battery is a battery powered by energy that comes from sunshine.

 “But people never give up their desire to conquer its peak,” he said.

.A desire is a wish that is also what may seem like a need.

Running a marathon on a mountain trail is quite difficult and tiring as the slippery, complicated terrain carries a high risk of injuries.

Terrain means countryside.

But Cường said the most difficult thing for him was the “rarefied atmosphere at the altitude of 5,400m with just 55 per cent of oxygen found in the plains.

Rarefied atmosphere means air that has lower pressure than usual.

“Two days before the race, we saw an SOS team bring back dead bodies… we felt very scared.”

SOS stands for “Save Our Souls”. It is used when referring to emergencies.

The first thing he did on returning to Hà Nội on June 5 was donate some blood.

Donate means give.

Cường has been known by the Long Distance Runner group in Hà Nội as Dr Dẻo (Dr Endurance, due to his ability to endure long practice sessions).

To endure something means to suffer it patiently.

His push for endurance began with excessive indulgence.

Indulgence is pleasure you allow yourself to have. Excessive indulgence means doing so a bit too much.

He used to play football. After each match, he drank and ate a lot with his friends, which resulted in gout and disk herniation.

Gout is a painful disease people often catch in their feet.

Disk herniation is a problem people get in the back bone.

After sometime, Cường was able to run 13km, as his health improved significantly.

Significantly means meaningfully.

 

“I have no advice to young people because I don’t even know if what I’m doing now is right,” he said with a big smile.

 

Advice means guidance.

 

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

  1. The name of the world’s highest mountain.
  2. A disease of the foot.
  3. Sumhan Kulung’s home country.
  4. A gas in the air that people breathe.
  5. Shelters in which people sleep when they go camping in the mountains.

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2017
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Everest; 2. Gout; 3. Nepal; 4. Oxygen; 5. Tents.

 

 

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