Almost 3,100 runners from 42 nations will compete at the Việt Nam Trail Marathon in Mộc Châu District, Sơn La Province on January 11. — Photo courtesy of organising board
HÀ NỘI — Almost 3,100 runners from 42 nations will race up to 70km on trails through orchards and tea fields in the Việt Nam Trail Marathon (VTM) in Mộc Châu District, northern mountain province of Sơn La on January 11.
The number of runners at the second edition of VTM is up by 65 per cent compared to year one, making this the biggest one day event by Topas.
Founder and ace Director David Lloyd said the VTM is popular due to the natural beauty of the region combined with the time of year, as just before Tết (Lunar New Year), the area is at its most beautiful, with flowers beginning to blossom while the weather is mild and ideal for running.
“I am sure many runners have heard tales of 2019 - not only of the great trails, but also how warmly the people of Mộc Châu welcomed runners. The 65 per cent increase in the number is testament to the high quality of the running experience in this incredible area. Mộc Châu, with its blossom orchards, beautiful trails and tea plantations and friendly and hospitable locals will provide the 'wow' experience our runners have come to expect,” he said.
Ultra trail running has rapidly grown in popularity in Việt Nam since the original trail race by Việt Nam Mountain Marathon was established in 2013 welcoming just a handful of runners from Việt Nam, none of which made it onto the long distance podiums - a contrast to the champions the nation now produces.
In the men’s 70km race, last year’s VTM 70km champion, Trần Duy Quang, will return. He will compete with a new star from Việt Nam's running community, Đỗ Trọng Nhơn who took second place at his early trail races including Việt Nam Jungle Marathon 55km and Việt Nam Mountain Marathon (VMM) 70km in 2019.
They will also be competing with strong runner from Hong Kong Ka Hei Lam, who won the Raleigh Challenge Wilson Trail in 2018.
In the 70km female battle, VMM 2018's 100km champion Evelyn Lek of Singapore will be competing with Nguyễn Thị Đường, who has been on many ultra run podiums.
In the 42km, the overall Việt Nam Trail Series champion Trịnh Nam Hải will be back and so will his female counterpart, Belgium’s Vanja Cnops, who also won VTM in 2019.
This year she will be competing with Joane Etiene, a strong runner from Switzerland.
“I will race the VTM 42km again and I will try to do better than last year. If the race course and the conditions are similar, it will be a good chance to check if I have made any improvements,” said Cnops.
Lining up with more than 1,000 10km runners at this year’s event is British Ambassador Gareth Ward, who will be running on trails for the first time.
Like other races by Topas, US$20 from every long distance (21km-70km) registration goes direct to charity.
Almost US$40,000 will be divided between local projects around Mộc Châu, Newborns Việt Nam, which works to increase life chances for newborns babies, and Topas’s new charity partner Blue Dragon, which helps end human trafficking and to provide care to Vietnamese children and families in crisis. VNS