Around 2,500 runners will take part in the Việt Nam Mountain Marathon this year.
Founded in 2013 by Topas Travel, the event has grown from 200 runners to 2,500 this year, making it one of the biggest ultra-running events in Asia and the landmark event on the Southeast Asia calendar. The runners from 50 nations will race distances ranging from 10km to 100km in Vietnam's highest mountains.
Winners of the longest distance race have hailed from Denmark, Czech Republic and Thailand. This year, however, there are high hopes for a Vietnamese winner in the longest distance.
“We have some fast and very tough Vietnamese male and female runners lining up for the 100km,” said David Lloyd, race director. “The most hotly anticipated contest is that between Cao Ngoc Ha and Tran Duy Quang who came first and second at the Vietnam Jungle Marathon respectively earlier this year.”
However, with a host of top-class runners coming from overseas, including multiple championship-winner Manolito Divina of the Philippines, victory for Vietanm will not come easily.
In the women’s field Le Phuong Vy and Nguyen Thi Duong are both strong contenders. Accomplished athletes coming from overseas, including Moana O’Sullivan and Montha Suntornwit, promise to make the race highly competitive.
Well-known runners also compete in the race including British Ambassador to Vietnam Giles Lever; TV host Thuy Dung; actress Vu Thi Hoang My and Miss Universe Vietnam 2017 judge Nguyen Huong Giang.
Dung will be on the starting line for the 21km for Newborns Vietnam team. “Newborns Vietnam is a wonderful charity and I am extremely proud to be running along with the rest of the Newborns Vietnam team to help raise money and awareness,” she said. “I’ve been training for this and the inspiration to help such a fantastic organisation has given me great motivation!”
Former ambassador of VMM, My will line up for the 21km alongside fellow Miss Universe judge Giang. On coming back to VMM after being away in Israel filming, My said, “VMM is one of the most impressive races in Vietnam and last year I missed the excitement of it, especially seeing my friends there. This is not just a marathon, it is a great chance to meet with friends who have the same passion!”
British Ambassador to Vietnam Giles Lever will be running the race again following his age group win and fourth place overall at the event last year.
The event kicked off with an expo event in Sapa Square on September 22 with live music, DJs, food and drinks and sponsor booths from California Fitness and international names including Garmin and Hammer Nutrition.
The 100km race starts at 10pm on September 22, with the participants running through the long, dark night in the highest peaks of Vietnam. Throughout September 23, 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, recently voted No 1 on the National Geographic list of places to stay if you care about the environment. The race has a strong charitable focus and thousands of dollars have been donated to good causes since 2013. This year more than 35,000 USD will be divided between local projects around Sapa and Newborns Vietnam, which works to ensure healthy outcomes for newborn babies.