National Tiền Phong Marathon attracts record number of runners

March 11, 2023 - 07:54
The annual tournament, which is in its 64th edition in 66 years, will be held over three days from March 24 by the Tiền Phong Newspaper, Lai Châu People's Committee and the Việt Nam Athletics Federation.


Athletes test the Tiền Phong Marathon's track. The 64th national marathon championship will take place on March 24-26 in Lai Châu Province. Photos courtesy of the race organisers

HÀ NỘI — A record of nearly 4,000 runners will compete in the traditional Tiền Phong Marathon, the national championship, in the northern mountainous Lai Châu Province late this month.

The annual tournament, which is in its 64th edition in 66 years, will be held over three days from March 24 by the Tiền Phong newspaper, Lai Châu People's Committee and the Việt Nam Athletics Federation.

"This is the 64th Tiền Phong Marathon. What makes this event special is that the destination is changed annually," said journalist Lê Xuân Sơn, editor-in-chief of Tiền Phong, at a press conference on March 10 in Hà Nội.

"We give priority to hosting our marathon to cities and provinces with special positions in the development and defence strategy of the country.

"For many years, Tiền Phong Marathon has not only pushed the spread of sport in the country but also become a social and cultural event, contributing to the development of the host localities.

Organisers hold a press briefing about Tiền Phong Marathon on March 10 in Hà Nội.

"Lai Châu is a remote northwest province and still facing many difficulties. Tiền Phong newspaper editors and the provincial leaders are still determined to bring Tiền Phong Marathon here to make an impressive mark and a strong push in 2023 for Lai Châu. And at the same time, we will help the province promote and introduce history and culture and growth potential.

"Through our slogan Những Nẻo Đường Biên Cương (Our Border Roads), we hope to raise people's awareness of protecting our homeland, especially in remote border areas. We urge people to look towards the border, to encourage the spirit of border soldiers and people who are guarding the border of the nation."

Athletes will compete in different categories ranging from 5km to full marathon for both elite and amateurs of multiple age groups.

A total of more than VNĐ500 million (US$21,000) in prize money and a number of gifts are on offer. Apart from awards for outstanding individuals, organisers also give bonuses to the teams with the best results.

In the 42km for elite, national champion Hoàng Nguyên Thanh of Bình Phước Province will defend his title. Thanh, who is Việt Nam's first male SEA Games marathon champion, is the favourite candidate.

He must be faster than many potential marathoners such as Nguyễn Văn Lai of the Military and Lê Văn Tuấn of Đồng Nai.

While Tuấn is a well-known competitor in the running community after taking many top podiums, Lai is a secret threat to everyone. The multi-time SEA Games winner in 5,000m and 10,000m has just switched to marathon recently.

This will be his first official tournament but a high finish will push him to the national team for the 32nd SEA Games in May in Cambodia.

Runners compete in the 2022 Tiền Phong Marathon on Côn Đảo Island.

The women's race will see national champion Hoàng Thị Ngọc Hoa of Bình Phước, who also won a SEA Games bronze, up against National Sports Games winner Lê Thị Tuyết of Phú Yên and SEA Games 10,000m winner Phạm Thị Hồng Lệ.

Many other national team members also take part in the Tiền Phong event.

They are Nguyễn Thị Oanh and Phạm Thị Huệ in the women's classes and Đỗ Quốc Luật, Phạm Tiến Sản, Lương Đức Phước, Nguyễn Trung Cường and Lê Tiến Long in the male categories.

The amateur race will see national top marathoners such as last year's winner Đặng Anh Quyết, ultra mountain runner Trần Duy Quang and Boston Marathon qualifier Nguyễn Đông Định.

Thái Thị Hồng, Nguyễn Thị Minh Hiền and Nguyễn Phan Thuỳ Vân were the top three females runners last year on Côn Đảo Island.

They will have to work hard to defend their positions as raising star Hà Thị Hậu and Boston Marathon qualifier Thái Thu Trang will put up strong challenges.

During the three days, organisers will also hold many other activities such as music and dance performances, a local cuisine festival and an orchid festival to entertain runners and tourists.

Tống Thanh Hải, vice chairman of Lai Châu Province's People Committee, said late March was the best time to admire the regional orchid blossoms. Tiền Phong race would take place at the right time when the flowers are in full bloom.

An aerial view of Lai Châu City which hosts the 2023 Tiền Phong Marathon

Lai Châu expected to attract more visitors to the province and use it as an opportunity to publicize its unique cultural and historical values.

Tiền Phong Marathon is the oldest athletic competition in Việt Nam. The first event was held in 1958. VNS