|Building bridges: Running clubs in HCM City have attracted thousands of members, locals and foreigners.
by Tung Lien
A "jogging movement" in HCM City is flourishing with the participation of people of all ages and from different walks of life.
Many teams, groups, and clubs for jogging have been established as it became home to people who want to run to challenge and change themselves.
Vietrunners & Friends (VRF), Sunday Running Club (SRC), and Run.club are some of the groups that have gathered people who love jogging and have gradually established a running movement.
As SRC has a large number of members who have received formal training, it attracts many young people to join its collective running sessions.
Newcomers are guided by experienced members in training methods and techniques, from how to start, how to jog, and, ultimately, how to relax and rest.
In 2013, after taking part in a students' running competition called FUNRUN held by RMIT University, Pham Thanh Tuan and some friends founded the SRC group that slowly drew more people to it. This group now has thousands of members of all ages who are studying or working in HCM City.
Previously, some short roads around Tao Dan and Hoa Lu parks were familiar places for SRC members.
Since HCM City has got the Nguyen Hue walking street, it has become an interesting running route, and people flock here to practise.
According to a runner, Do Ngan Son, running on Nguyen Hue Street not only helps newcomers to get acquainted with the sport but also overcome the awkwardness of running through crowded places. It also help the other members to support and guide them during workouts.
"Experienced runners can run in any particular place and time. The running group comes together only for a long run with various ranges and different speeds during weekends," he said.
Gia Dinh and Tao Dan parks, Hoang Sa-Truong Sa causeway, Pham Van Dong Avenue, and Crescent Mall in District 7 are the places where the members of jogging clubs practise.
|Running start: Sitting in a pram, this baby "successfully completed" a run along with his father to pass the Phu My Bridge, an iconic structure in HCM City. — Photo news.zing.vn
In the evenings, under streetlights, young people overcome the distances of 5km, 10km, 21.1km, even reaching 42.2km.
"For many, jogging is simply jogging, but, in fact, the practice and competition for this sport must comply with certain technical and tactic principles. One must start each session carefully. After finishing, one must allow one's body to relax and breathe steadily," said athlete Nguyen Van Long, who has won the Tien Phong newspaper Award in 2010, 2011, 2012, and now supports the members of Vietrunners&Friends.
With more than 10 years' experience in professional competitions, he is "supervisor" for new and old members.
"This game has no shortcuts and no one can help us, so we have to make efforts to complete our targets," Long remarked.
After a foreign friend asked him, "Is there any jogging movement in Viet Nam?" Tran Quoc Hoang spent a year to study and gain relevant medical knowledge of jogging.
"After gaining enough knowledge and setting a clear training plan, I set up a club so people could have proper training," said Hoang, who is chairman of the Vietrunners&Friends club.
"At first, I liked running through the night and at noon to challenge myself. Sometimes people laughed, considering me silly, but, after many days, they became familiar with the sight of me running and came to know me closer. Slowly, they began supporting us. On my running route, I meet many acquaintances and we exchange smiles," he said.
SRC and VRF often hold running sessions outside the City a few times a year, which offer opportunities to members to try and measure their limitations.
This way, it becomes harder-than-usual exercises, both in range and speed.
Routes such as My Thuan Bridge to Can Tho Bridge (43km), which was recently covered, always attract the participation of club members.
This is seen as a rehearsal for major tournaments such as HCM Run and Da Nang International Marathon held annually.
Give and take
In July 2014, during the initial days of VRF, the enthusiasts of the club organised a charity programme to bring meals to poor labourers.
For every kilometre covered, each member had to donate VND1,000 toward the programme.
"At first, I just arranged it for fun, but, as time passed, more and more members enthusiastically supported the programme. The programme is really meaningful as members contribute more and more to meals for the poor, they will also see their efforts and progress through the number of kilometres covered," Hoang said.
Along with the programme, "jogging for meals for the poor," the club has also installed a free iced teapot at Yet Kieu swimming pool and donates VND200,000 a month to the other places that have similar iced teapots.
Dao Trung Thanh, 45, deputy director of a company, said, jogging really changed his life.
Over four years ago, he was overweight with his lipid and blood sugar levels exceeding limits. Doctors advised him to reduce his weight.
After three years of jogging, he lost more than 10kg and his illness has also reduced.
"I was quite surprised by the changes in my body since I started jogging; people now say that I don't look my age. Running indeed helped me regain my youth, and I'm happy, more relaxed, and have the willpower to 'never give up'," he said excitedly. — VNS