Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — More than 1,900 runners will take part in the inaugural Việt Nam Trail Marathon (VTM) in Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province on January 19.
Participants from 39 nations will race distances ranging from 10km to 70km.
Two of Việt Nam’s best ultra runners, Trần Duy Quang and Cao Ngọc Hà, will be racing together with top flight international runners including Jo Meek of the United Kingdom and Moritz auf der Heide of Germany. Alongside them will be Triple7Quest finisher 72-year-old Châu Smith, Miss Việt Nam 1994 Nguyễn Thu Thủy and musician Huy Tuấn.
This is the third race in the Việt Nam Trail Series held by Topas, the organiser of the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon (VMM), one of the biggest ultra-running events in Asia.
Founder and Race Director, David Lloyd, said he chose Mộc Châu because he needed an area that would provide an experience as good as that of the other two Topas races, VMM and Việt Nam Jungle Marathon (VJM).
“We already organise races in two of Việt Nam’s most beautiful locations – Sa Pa and Pù Luông. I therefore had to find somewhere extremely special to be on a par: Mộc Châu, with its blossom orchards, beautiful trails and tea plantations, will provide the wow experience our runners have come to expect,”said Lloyd.
“After many months of research and preparation I am excited to see our runners take to the trails. First editions have a special energy that we love because it takes a true sense of adventure to sign up for something totally new - that means every runner on the start line shares the same spirit,” Lloyd added.
The 70km ultra runners will start in darkness at 4am. They will begin racing with the headlamps on and then run through blossom orchards at sunrise. The route will take them through stunning trails, past remote villages and will eventually finish at the Đồi Chè Trái Tim.
In this category, Quang and Hà will go head-to-head for the first time on trail since VMM 2017 when Quang became VMM 100km champion.
Prior to that, Hà won the inaugural Việt Nam Jungle Marathon in 2017 with Quang coming a very close second in one of the most exciting ultra races to date in the country.
In the women’s field, Vietnamese Lê Phương Vy and Nguyễn Thị Đường are both 70km contenders, but with the presence of Jo Meek, an elite athlete from the UK, a top class runner with wins in races around the world, victory for Việt Nam will not come easy.
In the 42km distance, the odds-on favourite is Moritz auf der Heide, an elite ultra trail runner from Germany, while in the women’s field Frenchwoman Nathalie Cochet, winner of VMM 100km 2016, will be the one to watch.
72 year old with 70+ marathon finishes
Also lining up for the 42km is Châu Smith who ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven consecutive days for her 70th birthday in 2017. Born in Việt Nam and now living in San Francisco, Châu has run more than 70 marathons.
“This will be my first marathon in Việt Nam. I have never seriously considered running in the south where I used to live because of the heat. But I met some runners in Đà Lạt last year where I was vacationing and they got me excited about running in other parts of Việt Nam. So when I saw the VTM advertised, I jumped at the chance to be a part of a well-organised run in such a beautiful area of my homeland. I want to take it easy and enjoy the scenery, no PR!” she said.
Like other races organised by Topas, all US$20 from every long distance (21km-70km) registration will go directly to charity. From the first edition of Việt Nam Trail Marathon, around VNĐ551 million (about US$24,000) will be divided between local projects around Mộc Châu and Newborns Việt Nam, which works to increase life chances for newborns babies, and Operation Smile, which performs facial surgery on those with deformities. — VNS