Runner Nguyễn Tiến Hùng seen in a practice to prepare for the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon in Sa Pa today. Photo VMM
HÀ NỘI Nearly 4,000 runners from 46 nations will race in distances ranging from 10km to 100km in Việt Nam’s highest mountains in the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon (VMM) in Sa Pa, Lào Cai Province today.
Founded in 2013 by Topas Travel, the seventh edition is one of the biggest ultra-running events in Asia and the landmark event on the Southeast Asia calendar.
Participants include Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) 2018 champion, Francesca Canepa of Italy and VMM 2018 100km champion, Nguyễn Tiến Hùng.
Canepa won World Cup of trail running last year. This is the first time a world elite of this level has raced in Việt Nam.
“I hope to enjoy a completely new country and culture, I really like to discover new races in new landscapes and make new friends. 100km is a really long way, so they allow me to see a lot and to exchange a lot with people at aid stations and everywhere, so it will be interesting and challenging as well,” Canepa said.
Canepa will go head to head with Habiba Benahmed from France, winner of a traditional ultra event in China’s Hong Kong (HK168) in the women’s 160km and third place of TNF100 event in South Korea in 100km category.
On the men’s side, last year’s champion Hùng is back. He will be competing with his compatriot Nguyễn Quang with whom he crossed the Việt Nam Jungle Marathon (VJM) 2019 finish line together for joint second place. This promises an exciting head-on-head competition between them and will also potentially decide who is crowned champion this year.
Beside them, many top class runners coming from overseas will be on the start line, including Tomohiro Mizukoshi from Japan, Franck Santos from France and Howard Dracup from the UK.
“2019 is set to be the hardest VMM yet, with a major new mountain for ultra runners, plus more trail for all. We had great days researching these routes and now we hope for great weather - the views from the new peak are the grandest I have seen on any Viet Nam trail,” said David Lloyd, race director and sport director at Topas Group.
The event kicks off with an expo event in Sapa Square today and then the 100km race will start at 9pm, with the participants running through the long, dark night in the highest peaks of Việt Nam.
Throughout Saturday, runners in the 70km, 42km and 21km contests will join them for a race through stunning rice terraces and ethnic minority villages.
The race finish line is the Topas Ecolodge.
Topas races have a strong charitable focus and thousands of dollars have been donated to good causes since 2013. To date, the Topas Việt Nam Trail Series has raised more than US$250,000 for charities, including Operation Smile Việt Nam and Newborns Việt Nam. VNS