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Việt Nam’s biggest mountain race to kick off

Update: September, 22/2017 - 11:00
Around 2,500 runners will take part in the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon this year. — Photo courtesy of the organisers
Viet Nam News

Marathon

HÀ NỘI — Runners will go the distance in the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon (VMM) from September 22-24 in Sa Pa.

Founded in 2013 by Topas Travel, the event has grown from 200 runners to 2,500 this year, making it one of the biggest ultra-running events in Asia and the landmark event on the Southeast Asia calendar.

The runners from 50 nations will race distances ranging from 10km to 100km in Việt Nam’s highest mountains.

Winners of the longest distance race have hailed from Denmark, Czech Republic and Thailand. This year, however, there are high hopes for a Vietnamese winner in the longest distance.

 “We have some fast and very tough Vietnamese male and female runners lining up for the 100km,” said David Lloyd, race director. “The most hotly anticipated contest is that between Cao Ngọc Hà and Trần Duy Quang who came first and second at the Việt Nam Jungle Marathon respectively earlier this year.”

However, with a host of top-class runners coming from overseas, including multiple championship-winner Manolito Divina of the Philippines, victory for Việt Nam will not come easily.

In the women’s field Lê Phượng Vỹ and Nguyễn Thị Dương are both strong contenders. Accomplished athletes coming from overseas, including Moana O’Sullivan and Montha Suntornwit, promise to make the race highly competitive.

Well-known runners also compete in the race including the British Ambassador to Việt Nam, Giles Lever; TV host Thùy Dung; actress Vũ Thị Hoàng My and Miss Universe Việt Nam 2017 judge Nguyễn Hương Giang.

Dung will be on the starting line for the 21km for Newborns Việt Nam team.

“Newborns Việt Nam is a wonderful charity and I am extremely proud to be running along with the rest of the Newborns Việt Nam team to help raise money and awareness,” she said. “I’ve been training for this and the inspiration to help such a fantastic organization has given me great motivation!”

Former ambassador of VMM, My will line up for the 21km alongside fellow Miss Universe judge Giang.

On coming back to VMM after being away in Israel filming, My said, “VMM is one of the most impressive races in Việt Nam and last year I missed the excitement of it, especially seeing my friends there. This is not just a marathon, it is a great chance to meet up with friends who have the same passion!”

British Ambassador to Việt Nam, Giles Lever, will be running the race  again following his age group win and fourth place overall at the event last year.

The event kicks off with an Expo event in Sapa Square today with live music, DJs, food and drinks and sponsor booths from California Fitness and international names including Garmin and Hammer Nutrition.

The 100km race starts at 10pm today, with the participants running through the long, dark night in the highest peaks of Việt Nam. Throughout tomorrow runners in the 70km, 42km and 21km contests will join them for a race through stunning rice terraces and ethnic minority villages.

The race finish line is the Topas Ecolodge, recently voted No 1 on the National Geographic list of places to stay if you care about the environment.

The race has a strong charitable focus and thousands of dollars have been donated to good causes since 2013.  This year more than US$35,000 will be divided between local projects around Sapa and Newborns Việt Nam, which works to ensure healthy outcomes for newborn babies. — VNS

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