Tien Phong Marathon offers int’l chances for pro, amateur runners

March 23, 2021 - 11:34

The 62nd edition of the annual event will be held on March 28 in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.

Military athletes train for the Tiền Phong Newspaper National Marathon Championship in Gia Lai Province. The tournament will be held on March 28. Photo tienphong.vn


HÀ NỘI — The Tiền Phong Newspaper National Marathon Championship will not only test the national athletics team but also be a chance for amateur runners to win a chance to compete in the coming SEA Games.

The 62nd edition of the annual event will be held on March 28 in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai.

The race will set a record with the largest number of participants with about 5,000 registered in both professional and amateur categories.

The organisers offer different distances for runners from 5km to a full marathon of 42.195km.

All 18 members of the long-distance group of the national squad will run along with their coaches.

According to coach Nguyễn Văn Sỹ, the Tiền Phong Marathon is one of the three biggest races of the year for his athletes.

It is a baseline that coaches will rely on to select key runners for the regional Games in the winter in Hà Nội.

His athletes, now running for their cities and provinces, have prepared for the races for months and are expected to secure up to six titles in the total eight categories for professionals.

The men’s 42km will see a competitive race between defending champion Hoàng Nguyên Thanh of Bình Phước, and his two runners-up Lê Văn Tuấn of Bình Dương and Lê Tấn Hi of Lâm Đồng.

Another threat is Trịnh Quốc Lượng of the Military team, who won the Marathon Hà Nội Midnight in mid-December. With his national best time of 2hr 27.21min made in the 2020 season, he has been called up to the national team for the SEA Games.

Another runner is former champion Bùi Thế Anh also of the Military. Anh took part in two SEA Games in 2015 and 2017 and won the Hậu Giang Marathon last November.

The women’s competition will see SEA Games bronze medal Phạm Thị Hồng Lệ of Bình Định try to take her title back from Hoàng Thị Ngọc Hoa from Bình Phước. Meanwhile, rising star Lèo Thị Tình of Sơn La who placed third last year is expected to improve her ranking this time. There are only six runners in this category.

In the 21km event, defending champion Nguyễn Văn Lai of the Military hopes to win his third title.

“It is the first time I will run in Gia Lai. The weather here is better than it was in Lý Sơn (last year) but the hilly terrain will bring more challenges to runners,”  Lai said.

He will face Nguyễn Trung Cường of Hà Tĩnh who won 3,000m steeplechase silver at the Manila SEA Games and a title in the 10km race for young athletes at this competition in 2019.

On the women’s side, Phạm Thị Thuý Hạnh of Hà Nam will not attempt to defend her crown, giving opportunities to Nông Thị Hường of Đắk Lắk and Nguyễn Thị Thuỳ Dương from Đồng Nai to shine after their second and third-placed finishes last year.

Other title favourites are Đỗ Quốc Luật of the Military who will aim for his seventh 10km triumph in a row and Nguyễn Thị Oanh of Bắc Giang for her fifth consecutive victory in the women’s 5km.

“Tiền Phong Marathon welcomes new athletes every year. They are talented and unpredicted, so I can't look down on anyone. I have worked hard and will run my best,” said Oanh.

Amateurs' international dreams

This edition will be the first time amateur runners’ results at the Tiền Phong Marathon make them eligible to represent Việt Nam at international competitions.

“Based on their time in tournaments managed by the Việt Nam Athletics Federation, we will pick them as Vietnamese representative in Asian events,” said Nguyễn Mạnh Hùng, the federation’s general secretary.

“Running is blooming strongly in Việt Nam. Amateur runners’ results are better and approaching those of professional ones. Therefore, we plan to give them opportunities to perform at continental competitions.

“It will be honour and experience that no amateur has had before, carrying the national flag and competing against Asia's leading runners,” Hùng said.

The first event could be the Asian Marathon Championship in July in Thailand.

Hùng also said the federation will choose the best 200 amateur marathoners, both male and female, to run at the coming SEA Games in Hà Nội but they will be ineligible for medals.

“Per the rules, each participating country can send only two men and two women for the maximum 40 for the marathon (to compete for medals). However, in recent Games, there have been around 10 for this event because some countries did not join,” Hùng said.

“We plan to have around 200 athletes who may run the same time with official athletes but will not compete for the top three positions. They will receive Finisher Medals from the organisers.”

He added that for the 31st SEA Games, the Tiền Phong Marathon and VPBank Hà Nội Marathon in October will be used to select athletes. VNS