Marathoners run to raise funds for underprivileged children

January 02, 2023 - 21:29
The Running Relay Across Việt Nam team will marathon through the country to raise fund for children with cleft lip and palate.


A team of 10 runners are in Running Relay Across Việt Nam to raise funds for children with cleft lip and palate. Photos of organisers

HÀ NỘI — The Running Relay Across Việt Nam team arrived in Hà Nội on January 2, the second day of a 14-day programme to raise funds for children with cleft lip and palate.

Their run began at midnight January 1 at the Lũng Cú Flag Tower on Long Sơn Mount of Đồng Văn Disctrict, Hà Giang Province.

Ten athletes, nine men and one woman from different running clubs, took part in a flag ceremony organised by the Lũng Cú Border Guard Station with the participation of local officials and residents.

Athletes of Hà Giang take part in the flag ceremony before kicking off their programme.

Major Nguyễn Xuân Hưng gave a 54sq.m flag, which represents the solidarity of the country's 54 nationalities, to the team.

Runner and programme founder Nông Văn Chuyền receives a huge flag from Major Nguyễn Xuân Hưng. 

The flag, which was lowered from the northernmost point Lũng Cú Pole the previous day, will cross a distance of 2,700km before being presented to soldiers of Cà Mau Province's Đất Mũi Border Guard Station at the Hà Nội Flag Pole, the southernmost and end point of the running relay. 


Athletes present gifts to children in Mèo Vạc District, Hà Giang Province.

Earlier on December 31, athletes met with local residents and presented more than 300 gifts to students of Mèo Vạc District.

Running for children

The relay was back with its second edition after one year interrupted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programme was launched by famed amateur runner Nông Văn Chuyền in 2020 when he wanted to help a child with cleft lip.

After a 10-day marathon from Lạng Sơn Province to Cà Mau, he collected VNĐ1.046 billion (US$44,300) to help 99 children through Operation Smile Việt Nam.

This time, Chuyền, also a participant in the run, and his partners, expected to receive more than the first time. He said the programme would not only heal their lips but also change their lives, especially those who are in the mountainous areas. 

"The relay is not only a challenge for runners in terms of endurance and mindset but also a link to connect people with underprivileged children who need help," said Chuyền.

"Athletes will have overcome hills and mountains among many obstacles from North to South. Our journey is expected to inspire people to take part in activities that bring meaningful values to the community," he said.

The team are welcomed by runners of Tuyên Quang Province.

Nguyễn Việt Phương, a representative of Operation Smile Việt Nam, said: "Operation Smile Việt Nam's message of 'Sport change lives" has been spread for many years and has reached many people and sport groups. We hope to improve people's health and join hands in helping Vietnamese children."

"After the success of the 2020 programme, the 2023 event will still aim to lure those who work for the community and sports lovers. They will make a journey of experiences; connect with the community; and work towards the goal of changing lives of children with facial deformities, giving them life-changing smiles," said Phương.

The relay began on January 1 and ends on January 14, passing through 24 cities and provinces, spreading a message of “Anyone can run and running changes lives”.

Athletes are divided into five pairs running 60km each for 24 hour per day. Apart from the charity purpose, they also want to set a new record for the distance, 2,700km compared with 2,603km in 2020, and the time is expected to be faster than the 251hr 11min it was two years ago.

"I have three reasons to participate in this programme. To improve my endurance, learn more from other runners and have a chance to admire Việt Nam's beautiful people and nature," said Vũ Đình Duân, who won a gold and a silver from the ninth National Sports Games' aquathon events.

Vũ Đình Duân is happy to be one of runners of the Running Relay Across Việt Nam as he join hands in changing children's lives. Photo of Hanoi Midnight Marathon

"Through the relay, I hope to encourage people, especially the youth, to practise sport for better health and lifestyle. And most important is to help as many children as possible have bright smiles like me," said Duân who met with many Hanoian runners at Hoàn Kiếm Lake on January 2.

All runners and running lovers in localities that the running team pass by can join the race for a small fee which will be contributed to the programme's fund. The ten athletes who have the highest number of kilometers will receive gifts from the organisers.

Participants can also take part in the online race through the 84Race app. They can walk and run at least 1km and compare their results. Organisers will rank the participants' achievements from highest to lowest. The winner also receives a bonus from the programme. VNS