Running at night like I'm meditating: VMM 160km runner Quang Trần

September 30, 2022 - 07:50
According to Quang, the VMM 160km was the most difficult race ever in Việt Nam. Not only it was the longest, but athletes had to run up and down Hoàng Liên Sơn mountain range with a total height of up to 6700m.
Quang Trần competes at the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon 2022. — Photo courtesy of VMM

by Thanh Nga

Runner Quang Trần (Trần Duy Quang) likes to run at night and that may well be the reason why he won the 160km distance which was competed for the first time in Việt Nam at the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon (VMM) in Sa Pa this month.

“The first half of the race in the daytime I was very tired, because I always tried to follow the leaders," Quang told Việt Nam News.

"But by the evening, I was fortunate to have recovered and felt as healthy as when I had just started. And running in the quiet night I found myself more focused and more fierce. I think that's also an advantage of trail running, if you're interested in running at night.

“Running at night is something very special to me. I like to run alone at night because then I feel so free. I like the feeling of silence among the majestic mountains. Everything around is quiet and doesn't affect me. It makes me more focused and in that space I feel stronger. Running at night, it feels like I'm meditating."

The 33-year-old runner, who was born in Bình Định Province, finished the race with a time of 23:19:00 on September 10. Second was Nguyễn Tiến Hùng, who won the 100km event in the VMM in 2018-2019, with a time of 24:54.32, and in third place was also a familiar face in trail running - Nguyễn Sĩ Hiếu with a time of 27:53.07.

According to Quang, the VMM 160km was the most difficult race ever in Việt Nam. Not only it was the longest, but athletes had to run up and down the Hoàng Liên Sơn mountain range. They had to run on the very slippery muddy roads which are typical of Sa Pa Town.

“The road was so muddy that there was a part where I fell and landed in the field, then I lifted my feet, my shoes stayed in the ground,” Quang said with a smile.

Running at this year's tournament gave Quang many memorable memories, especially when he climbed to the top of the Silver Stone mountain peak at the last check point before reaching the finish line.

“After reaching the top, I only was only a few kilometers away from the finish line, this stretch of road reminds me of the time of reaching the finish line in 2020, it was on this stretch of the road that year that my legs completely lost all strength and feeling, and that year I had to work hard to walk to the finish line and win the 100km category in a record time,” Quang said.

To complete the 160km run in under 44 hours, athletes will hardly be able to sleep, and in Quang's case he did not sleep at all during the 23 hours on the trail.

“Partly because I don't feel sleepy and partly because it's a race so I want to finish as soon as possible," he said.

"I had to take the time to rest between the watering stations as little as possible to complete the race. It can be said that this is the run that I have rest at least ever.”

Quang Trần likes the feeling of being alone to face difficulties and fatigue during the long journey. — Photo courtesy of VMM

For food and drink, Quang also calculated very carefully. He took on about 250-300 calories per hour by eating gels and energy bars along with nuts.

“The high-carb gel helps me have energy for periods of intense exertion and the energy bar contains a lot of fat to help provide sustained energy for a long day of continuous running. I have a friend who supports me at every check point, helping me bring porridge, soup and protein powder to give me the extra energy I need,” Quang said.

A total of 163 male runners took part in the 160km race this year, however only 100 people finished. The completion rate was up to 60 per cent. This was a pretty high rate, especially when running on difficult roads and in bad weather. It reflected the determination and tenacity of the runners.

Quang's achievement of running 160km in about 23 hours was an amazing achievement for many people. To achieve that, he usually spent two hours a day for practicing in the evening when he finished daily tasks and had to give up many personal hobbies to make time for training.

Passion for running

He became the first Vietnamese to conquer one of the toughest competitions in the world, the Spartathlon in Athens, Greece, in 2019 in which he finished with a time of 31:10.37 to rank 40th overall out of 196 athletes.

Quang fell in love with running nine years ago. Working in an office, he had to sit a lot but started running for health benefits and as a way to relieve stress and work pressure. But then very quickly, he became "addicted" to running. He had to balance his time between work and social relationships to spend more time practicing.

And like most runners, after a process of self-training, Quang started participating in running tournaments. The VMM 2015 was his first race that he completed his first full marathon in 6:27.53 to rank 13th overall.

After that, he became the first Vietnamese runner to win the VMM in the 100km category in 2017, one of the largest ultra-running events in Asia and a landmark event in Southeast Asia.

These encouraging results seems to make Quang's passion for running burn even more intense, because he has found a clear goal -- to challenge himself with every step.

"I like long and tough races because I want to put myself in front of challenges to find a way to overcome, and because I also like the feeling of being alone to face difficulties and fatigue during the long journey,” Quang said. VNS

Quang Trần (left) competes in the recent Mantra Summit Challenge in Indonesia. — Photo courtesy of Quang

Some of Quang 's achievements:

- Second prize at the Việt Nam Jungle Marathon 2017 (70km)

- Second prize at the Cameron Ultra Trail 2017 (100km)

- First prize at the Ultra Asia Race 2017 (160km)

- Third prize at the North Face 100 Thailand 2018 (100km)

- First prize at the Dalat Ultra Trail 2018 (70km)

- First prize at the Ultra Angkor Trail 2018 (32km)

- First prize at the Việt Nam Trail Marathon 2019 (70km)

- First prize at the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon 2017 and 2020 (100km)

- First prize at the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon 2022 (160km).