|A runner competing in the Việt Nam Trail Marathon last year. This year, runners from around the world will run up to 70km on trails in Mộc Châu. — Photo courtesy of the organiser|
MỘC CHÂU — Runners from around the world will run up to 70km on trails through the hills, ethnic minority villages, orchards and tea fields of Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province today.
Established in 2019, Việt Nam Trail Marathon (VTM) has grown to become one of the largest mountain runs in the nation.
The race usually takes place during blossom season, but this year the COVID-19 pandemic forced a date change, so now runners will see Mộc Châu in harvest season -- another very special time of year in this region.
The route will take runners along stunning trails through orchards and remote ethnic villages before eventually finishing in the Đồi Chè Trái Tim (Heart-Shaped Tea Field).
On the starting line will be some of Việt Nam’s top trail runners, as well as some strong international competition, particularly from French and Japanese runners.
This race is part of the Việt Nam Trail Series by Topas, which also includes Sa Pa’s Việt Nam Mountain Marathon and Pù Luông’s Việt Nam Jungle Marathon.
The Mộc Châu event was the third race added to the series. Mộc Châu was chosen for its spectacular trails and unique landscapes as well as the hospitable welcome extended to organisers and runners by both the local authorities and people.
Race director David Lloyd explained: “The Sơn La and Mộc Châu authorities are a pleasure to work with. They see the value that a large trail run brings in terms of immediate tourism income and also acting as a great advert for the area for future visitors.”
Like other races organized by Topas, each long-distance (21km-70km) entry includes a donation to charity.
Topas welcomes back three long term charity partners to the race: Newborns Việt Nam, Operation Smile and the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation. Next month Newborns will sign a three-year Memorandum of Understanding which covers life-saving training for three hospitals in the area. This work is a direct result of the VTM and is partly funded by the runners.
Another example of the charity work at the VTM is a group of 70 from the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, who have been fully supported to join. These are ex-street kids or those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Supporting the Blue Dragon kids to join is a very special part of the VTM,” says Lloyd.
“Being part of this charity run club not only gives the kids a way to keep healthy but also gives them a clear goal and a sense of achievement when they complete the race. Last year two kids from this club made the podium of the 5km, so they are definitely ones to watch for the future.”
In September, a marathon event in Sa Pa is expected to attract 5,000 runners and many supporters. It will include the nation’s first 100-mile (163km) run. — VNS