|Nguyễn Đăng Hiếu completed his 24-hour challenge in Hà Nội with a result of 230.4km. — Photos courtesy of Nguyễn Đăng Hiếu|
Sometimes, records are broken by the most unlikely of athletes.
Nguyễn Đăng Hiếu, a 40-year-old amateur runner, achieved an extraordinary feat in Hà Nội, running 230.4km in just 24 hours. Although it has yet to be officially confirmed, his distance would be a new Southeast Asian record.
Filipino runner Rolando Espina set the current record in 2019, who covered 218km.
The current regional records are held by Singapore (216km), Malaysia (187km), Indonesia (187km) and Thailand (167km).
The previous Vietnamese record was set in 2014 by national team member Cao Ngọc Hà, who ran 174km.
What makes Hiếu’s achievement even more remarkable is that he is not a professional runner but the director of a foreign investment fund in Việt Nam. His dedication and success have inspired many, including long-distance runners and sports enthusiasts nationwide.
Hiếu completed his record-breaking run on March 11 in the Long Biên District of Hà Nội, accompanied by a large number of supporters from the VKL running club and other running communities who cheered him on every step of the way.
“I am quite happy with the 230.4km distance," Hiếu told Việt Nam News. "I surpassed my expectations.”
“Participating in a long-distance running competition is to determine whether or not you want to run. Because the second half of the long race is purely psychological. When the body is exhausted, you will give up if there is no motivation, so there must be a reason to keep running. The human body is much more capable than the psychological barriers we put on ourselves.
“At first, I hit my goal of running about 200-210km. However, when I ran, I knew how many kilometres I had achieved and how much time was left, so I kept counting down.
"When I ran 170km after nearly 18 hours, I raised the goal in my head to 230km and achieved it. My friend also flew from HCM City to Hà Nội to run with me. He ran 188.8km.”
While running, sometimes the feeling of physical and mental exhaustion came to Hiếu, but he overcame it.
“At around 3am-6am, I was most exhausted as I had ran 95- 125km. This is also often when ultra athletes are exhausted, and their bodies need to rest. However, I've also been through this with my ultra trail runs and know that when the sun rises, it will be a new day, and hopefully, my body will recover.
"Fortunately, I really recovered and ran well again,” Hiếu said.
“Moreover, the cool weather and the support of VKL Club and everyone surprised me and gave me a lot of mental strength. As anyone who runs ultras knows, the second half of an ultra-competition is almost determined by spirit.”
|Nguyễn Đăng Hiếu and his supporting team in the 24-hour challenge in Hà Nội.|
During the 24 hours of running, Hiếu took nutrition from seeds, porridge, banana cake and drinks. He changed his shoes once, and his feet had absolutely no problems.
The 24-hour challenge is a kind of super marathon. When participating in the challenge, athletes will run for 24 hours to be able to complete the longest distance. The full-day competitions are the official running format in the world but are less popular in Việt Nam.
According to statistics, in 2022, about 340 24-hour tournaments were held around the world.
For Hiếu, he wanted to try the ultra road event for the first time, and 24 hours is a standard milestone at ultra road distance. He registered for a 24-hour tournament in HMC City but it was cancelled, so he decided to try it.
“My brother and I contacted the VKL Club in Long Biên, and they were ready to support my idea,” Hiếu said.
Hiếu’s achievement of 230km in 24 hours is considered close to the achievement of the 24-hour national team of countries such as the US, Canada, Australia and France.
“I don't think much about the significance of this event other than it gives me more confidence in myself, and I can compete with athletes worldwide in the 24-hour format. Through this, I hope more people will continue to practice sports to improve their health.
“My mother used to say when she was sick and before she died that when you have health, you want everything else, but when you don't have health, the only thing you want is health."
|Nguyễn Đăng Hiếu hopes more people will train in sports to improve their health.|
According to Quang Trần, Hiếu's coach, who won the first prize at the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon 2022 in the 160km category, the main points that helped Hiếu achieve such a great achievement are great desire, serious training, consistent with tactics, willing, good support team and ideal weather.
“When Hiếu started training again in early January, I said that he shouldn't target trial events because he is unsuitable for them. He can try at 12–hour ultra event or 24–hour ultra event because I see that Hiếu is a person who is suitable for this type of sport.
"That's how Hiếu got the idea to run 24 hours. To make it easier to imagine how Hiếu achieved the 230km/24h figure, you should run a 42km marathon with a time of 4 hours 23 minutes and run 5.5 times like that,” Quang said.
“With a huge desire for 24 hours, he is very eager to practice every day, no matter how tired he is. There were weeks when he said that he woke up and looked at the clock at 1am, although he was very awake and wanted to go out to practice right away, but it was too early, so he continued to lie down for a bit, and then eagerly looked at the clock, to watch at 3am to practice.
"Honestly, I have never been so eager to train like that. When everyone wakes up to get ready for a run, he's already finished his running of 40km," Quang added.
Hiếu’s been running since 2018. He used to play tennis ten years ago but realised that this sport is quite binding because players need to have the tools, learn the technique, set the yard on time and have the right teammates.
In contrast, running is quite simple; just put on your shoes and run. You can run at every time you want. Good runners and normal runners can still participate in running together.
“I usually get up at 3am and run until 6.30am. Then I go home to prepare for the school run. I usually read stories around 9pm and then sleep,” Hiếu said.
Hiếu’s first tournament he attended was the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon in Sa Pa in the category of 42km, which he completed in 11 hours. After that, his result in the marathon division was raised to 2 hours 55 minutes. VNS