The Việt Nam Trail Marathon started in Mộc Châu today. — Photo courtesy of the organisers
MỘC CHÂU After being postponed due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in January, today almost 4,300 Việt Nam-based runners from 41 nations will race from 5km to 70km in the Việt Nam Trail Marathon (VTM).
Athletes will run on trails through the orchards and tea fields of Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province. The route includes stunning trails through orchards, remote ethnic minority villages and will eventually finish at the Đồi Chè Trái Tim (Heart Shaped Tea Field).
“Our team has been up in Mộc Châu preparing all week; the area is looking magnificent with bright blue skies and the orchards in harvest mode, full of ripe plums,” says David Lloyd, director of sport at the organiser Topas.
“It will be a hotter race than that in January, so we advise runners to be prepared to run in the sun and drink plenty throughout the day. We very much look forward to welcoming thousands to beautiful Mộc Châu,” Lloyd added.
In the men’s 70km race, Vietnamese star Quang Nguyễn will be seeking his first Việt Nam Trail Series win after scoring multiple ultra podiums, but he faces two very strong runners from France: Gaetan Morizur and Valentin Orange. Morizur is one to watch as he was very close to the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon (VMM)’s 100km win in 2020, finishing shortly after the champion.
In the women’s ultra field, the VMM 100km champion Nguyễn Thị Đường will face Cung Thị Trà My (VMM 100km third place) and France's Axelle de Feraudy (VMM 42km champion). However, all these runners will need to watch a very serious new ultra runner – Hà Thị Hậu of Sa Pa. Hậu won the VMM 21km in a blistering time, beating all the men. This will be her first ultra race, so it will be interesting to see if her fierce shorter distance speed can translate to a much longer test.
A runner runs through tea fields of Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province. — Photo courtesy of the organisers
The female 42km competition is set to be fierce, with Việt Nam Trail Series race champions Nathalie Cochet of France (VMM 100km champion) and Nguyễn Thùy Dung (VMM 70km and VJM 70km champion) going head to head.
In the 42km men's race, the two Vietnam Trail Series 2020 champions will go head to head. Quang Trần won the VTS Ultra Championship in 2020 after his victory at the VTM 70km and VMM 100km while his compatriot Trịnh Nam Hải was VTS Marathon Champ in 2019 and 2020.
The race is organised by Topas, organiser of the Việt Nam Trail Series which also includes the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon and Việt Nam Jungle Marathon.
Like other races by Topas, each long-distance entry includes a donation to charity. Almost US$30,134 will be divided between local projects around Mộc Châu, the work of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, life-changing surgery for children through Operation Smile and saving lives through Newborns Việt Nam.
In other news, the Olympic Run Day and the launch of the annual Hà Nội Mới (New Hà Nội) Newspaper’s Run for Peace also take place today in Hà Nội with the participants being coaches, athletes, workers, as well as students in the capital. VNS