Saturday, 15/10/2022 18:04

Runners from 47 countries to compete at Việt Nam Jungle Marathon

Athletes compete in the Việt Nam Jungle Marathon last year. This year, the event will attract the runners from 47 countries. — Photo courtesy of the organisers


THANH HÓA — Runners from 47 countries will compete in the Việt Nam Jungle Marathon (VJM) to be held in the Pù Luông Nature Reserve in Thanh Hóa Province this weekend.

This is the fifth time the race has been held and also the biggest season in the history of the tournament.

The Pù Luông Nature Reserve is home to ethnic minority villages, stunning limestone mountains, some of the most beautiful terraced rice fields in Việt Nam, waterwheels and waterfalls, and welcoming locals to cheer on the runners.  

“Many runners tell me that this is their favourite event in the Việt Nam Trail Series race. For me, it also holds a special place in my heart,” David Lloyd, founder and race director, said. 

“Việt Nam is full of incredible locations, but Pù Luông is something very special. In terms of logistics, there will certainly be more famous and favourable places for the organisation of the tournament, but every time we go back to Pù Luông, we remember why we have to defy those challenges, We chose this place because it is 'unique' and the running atmosphere is also very different.”

With some top ultra runners coming from overseas going head to head with Việt Nam’s best, the 70km category this year promises to be the most competitive race.

Three champions of the Việt Nam Trail Series will face two prospected newcomers for the title of the 70km.

Former VJM 70km champion Hisashi Kitamura of Japan is returning to defend his title.

Kitamura alongside Nguyễn Tiến Hùng, who won the titles at the VJM and Việt Nam Mountain Marathon (VMM) as well as this year's 100km VMM champion, Gaetan Morizur from France, will compete against Arnie Macaneras from the Philippines and Jeff Campbell from Chinese Hong Kong.

Hitashi said: “I’m happy to come back to defend my title at the VJM. I like the race in Pù Luông because of its beautiful trail and race atmosphere. Many runners get together at the homestays and enjoy the race and also the time before and after the race. The course is not super tough but it has very spicy steep hills. I hope everyone enjoys the challenges there and makes good memories.”

In the women’s ultra field, Vanja Cnops from Belgium returns to the race with her experience gained via titles of VJM and Việt Nam Trail Marathon. She will compete against Vietnamese Nguyễn Thị Đường, winner of Việt Nam Trail Series, and Nguyễn Thị Nhớ Hoài, winners of many marathons in the country.

Cnops said: “I took part in the Việt Nam Jungle Marathon in the 70km in 2019 and it is still the longest and hardest race I have ever done. The racetrack was located in a remote area and was imbued with Vietnamese identity. Now I'm very nervous but also very excited to be back in the race this year.”

Runners from 47 countries will take part in the Việt Nam Jungle Marathon this weekend. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

Charity donations

All Việt Nam Trail Series races organised by Topas have a strong charitable focus and the total now raised through all events is now almost US$364,000.

Charities that have benefited from the Việt Nam Trail Series races include Hue Help, Newborns Việt Nam, Operation Smile and Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.  

Funds over the past two years from the VJM have been used for drowning prevention programmes in the areas surrounding the race course.  

This year, alongside other charitable projects, a group of 50 people from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation will join the race. 

Co-CEO of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, Đỗ Duy Vị, was once a street kid himself. Today as well as being co-CEO, he inspires the young people in Blue Dragon through running.

“The young people who are part of the running club of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation are excited to be part of this race. They meet many difficulties in life and running has a huge positive impact on them, giving them confidence and health benefits,” Vị said. VNS

A beautiful view of Pù Luông Nature Reserve in Thanh Hóa Province. — Photo courtesy of the organisers

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