World's toughest triathlon gives Thanh opportunity to become best version of herself

September 01, 2022 - 15:31
After becoming the first Vietnamese in history to not only complete but also win the Swiss Ultra Deca Continuous Triathlon World Championship (swimming 38km, cycling 1,800km and running 422km), it is no wondder runner Vũ Phương Thanh (Thanh Vũ) is known as 'superwoman'. After returning home, the Number 1 Brand Ambassador of Tân Hiệp Phát Group spoke to Nhật Hồng about her amazing win.


Vũ Phương Thanh is called superwoman after winning the Swiss Ultra Deca Continuous Triathlon World Championship. — Photo courtesy of Thanh

Inner Sanctum: What made you sign up for SwissUltra - one of the world's toughest ultra-triathlon competitions? Why did you want to complete such an arduous task, and what motivated you during the most difficult moments?

This event was a challenge for me in particular and the participants in general. It gave me a lot of experience and I experienced many valuable things that when I share them with the community, it will help them have faith in themselves.

I always feel very happy when participating in tournaments like this event. I am also very proud of my achievement. I tried my best and I won.

The event gave me many lessons including how to overcome psychological barriers and things that seem impossible.

The tournament was like a miniature life, there were times when I felt very confident, excited and even I felt like I could conquer the world. But there were times when I felt exhausted.

There were many factors that affected my psyche such as bad weather or other factors. I began to doubt myself, for example, how I could continue or who I was, or why I did dare to compete in this event.

Sometimes I looked at the people around me and started to feel self-conscious about myself and thought why they competed so well, I didn’t deserve to be here.

I thought that stopping didn't mean giving up completely. Maybe it's like a book. It's just chapter one, chapter two. There will be many more chapters to come, but it gave me a very clear understanding of my will as well as my bravery, so I desired to conquer and I wanted to strive to the end.

In this tournament, I really admire Nadine Zacharias who finished behind me. She is 60 years old. She is almost the same age as my mother. She has great will and focus recovering from cancer. I learn a lot from her.

When I am her age, I still want to participate in tournaments like this event. I still want to make the younger people try their best to chase after me.

Vũ Phương Thanh and Nadine Zacharias, runner-up of the SwissUltra. — Photo courtesy of Thanh

Inner Sanctum: What were the most unforgettable moments for you in the race?

My swimming competition was relatively good, it was difficult but I could handle it. Cycling was really hard because that is not my forte. At the SwissUltra 2022, the cycling route was too difficult, narrow and dangerous as many sections on both sides are cliffs. The weather was also harsh. When it rains, it is cold like ice water splashed on the body, and when it is hot, it wants to burn the skin. I tried to finish it to move on to my favourite part, the run.

On the last day of the cycling competition, I had to complete 342km. That day I also had to ride at night to complete it, but at night, I often fell asleep. Fortunately, the organising board allowed one volunteer to ride with me. It was also the first time in many competition days that I had a chance to talk to reduce my stress. I was very glad. In swimming, I had been swimming all day in the water, not talking to anyone.

After finishing cycling, I felt extremely happy. I always remember that moment as if I can carry the whole world, I feel very lucky to have an opportunity to compete in this competition and meet people who support me.

Vũ Phương Thanh's souvenirs at SwissUltra. — Photo courtesy of Thanh

Inner Sanctum: The Deca Continuous required participants to complete a long race with very short breaks. How did you practice and prepare?

I practiced relatively well for this tournament. I swam long, climbed stairs and ran regularly.

While practicing, I also planned out how long I would finish swimming, running, cycling in the Swiss event. I looked at those indexes and I thought I could do it in the world championship.

Before the tournament, I was also nervous and scared, but I thought this challenge only lasted 14 days. It's rather difficult but there are more challenges in life.

Inner Sanctum: You were the first Southeast Asian woman to complete the 4 Desserts Grand Slam, and now the first Vietnamese to win Ultra Deca Continuous Triathlon World Championship. What do you plan to do next to surpass your own achievements?

The events that I have just participated in are the foundation for my coming tournaments. I have a list of things that I want to do, it is very long but I will do it slowly. There will be skills that take years to build.

I don't participate in many triathlon competitions, but I have cherished it for a long time. The world event helps me to have new skills and new horizons, so I think in the future I will still try to make more of a mark for Việt Nam in the world.

Participants at the SwissUltra. — Photo courtesy of Thanh

Inner Sanctum: You have gone through such a strenuous training and competition schedule, what is the first thing you will do when you return to Việt Nam and why?

The first thing when I return to Việt Nam is that I will have to go to work to handle the backlog of the past two weeks. I am also very grateful to my colleagues to help me in my work to give me peace of mind to compete, to give me the opportunity to become the best version of myself.

Actually, since I left Việt Nam to compete, I've been craving for bún bò (beef vermicelli), so besides going back to work, I'll eat beef vermicelli with my friends. VNS