Omullo, Hậu win HCM City Midnight Marathon

February 13, 2023 - 07:01
Hoàng Nguyên Thanh, the reigning SEA Games champion, took second place, with Phạm Ngọc Phan following closely behind in third.


Kenyan Ezekiel Kemboi Omullo crosses the finish line of the men's 42km event of the VnExpress HCM City Midnight Marathon 2023. He not only won the title but also set a new tournament record. Photo courtesy of the organisers

HCM CITY — Ezekiel Kemboi Omullo, a Kenyan runner, set a new VnExpress record at the inaugural HCM City Midnight Marathon as he won the men's 42km event held on February 12.

Omullo established his lead in the early stages of the race, securing his position at the front of the pack and crossing the finish line of the men's full marathon category with a time of 2 hours and 30 minutes, 3 seconds.

Hoàng Nguyên Thanh, the reigning SEA Games champion, took second place, with Phạm Ngọc Phan following closely behind in third.

Omullo's triumph was widely anticipated, as he previously won the Marathon Standard Chartered Bank Singapore last December, finishing the race in 2 hours and 20 minutes, 20 seconds and collecting a prize of $10,000 for his first-place finish.

"The track is wonderful, and I am really impressed with the organising activities, support and volunteers. I couldn't imagine the tournament was so interesting with so many people participating," said Omullo.

"I met with almost no difficulty while running. I will definitely come back here next year.

The 35-year-old set up a new record for the VnExpress Marathon, the nation's largest running system, beating the previous record of 2:31.06 that Trịnh Quốc Lượng registered at the VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight last November.

"This is the early period of the season, so I did not run my best yet," Omullo said. "I set a target of beating Việt Nam's marathon record (2:21.51 by Nguyễn Chí Đông in the 2003 SEA Games) but failed. Hope that I can make it next time, and I will lure my friends to run too."

Việt Nam was the fourth ASEAN country he competed in after Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. After ten years running, his personal best is 2:08.00.

He said there were large marathons in Việt Nam, and in the future, many African athletes would visit and run in the country.

On the women's side, local star Hà Thị Hậu took the title with a time of 2:56:50.

Hà Thị Hậu won the women's full marathon gold.

She was followed by two other Vietnamese runners, Nông Thị Chang and Nguyễn Thị Đường.

Hậu, the national best female trail runner, said she did not worry before the tournament, although there were Kenyan and Ethiopian marathoners who came for the big bonus.

During 42km, Hậu was in the second group but always kept an eye on those ahead. She did not speed up until the last 5km, passing all competitors in the last 700m and crossing the line ahead of the pack.

"I prefer trailing, but taking part in this event improved my speed," said Hậu.

The winners of the half marathon were Nguyễn Đăng Khoa on the men's side and Nguyễn Thị Phương Trinh on the women's.

The 10km category saw Trương Nhật Linh as the male champion and Nguyễn Thị Thương female one.

The tournament's first winner was Cấn Văn Thanh Minh, who won the 5km class.

The 20-year-old set up a gap of one minute at the finish in his first time taking part in a midnight run. He was really happy with the first title of the year.

Nguyễn Đặng Yến Huỳnh, a 10th grader, was the female winner of this class.

In the VnExpress Midnight Marathon in HCM City, athletes run on designed tracks that allow them to admire famous landmarks.

She said she was surprised by her top position because she had almost no time for running.

"It is a great atmosphere running at night. I met no challenge on the way to winning. The amazing cheering of supporters and volunteers made me more excited and sprint to the finish," Huỳnh said.

In the later awarding ceremony, organisers presented a grand prize pool of VNĐ1 billion (US$42,500) for high-ranking athletes. VNS