Trinh Thi Thu Ha, a 26-year-old Vietnamese office worker, successfully conquered a mountain run of 105 kilometers (over 65 miles) in Thailand in almost a day's time.
“Earlier, I thought someone was crazy if they ran 42 kilometers but now I can run over 100 kilometers,” Ha was even surprised by herself.
As she is slender and gentle, it is hard to believe that Ha is a real runner. Her achievements in five-, 10-, 42-, and now 105-kilometer races are amazing.
Ha is now working for a game development company. Like many other people, she works daily at her company.
She practices running along roads in the Sala Thu Thiem Urban Area in Ho Chi Minh City after work.
Ha said she began running years ago.
“After the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021, I have spent more time running”
She recalled that at the time, she wore any available outfit and even turned her shoes for work into running gear.
She just ran for fun, so she did not set any target to win prizes or contests. She just ran to challenge herself and improve her health.
|Trinh Thi Thu Ha (L, 2nd) and her friends come to Thailand to conquer the 105-kilometer mountain race. Photo: Supplied|
Every day, Ha runs for 30 minutes to several hours. On some days, she starts running at 8:00 pm when she finishes work.
Despite being exhausted, she encouraged herself to try as she thought that if she did not run every day, she would definitely be lazy on more days.
In the initial period, she was dizzy after finishing five kilometers. At the time, she never imagined that she could complete 105 kilometers in Thailand.
However, Ha admitted that she is tireless and keen on challenges.
She later increased her targets to 10 and 21 kilometers before completing a 42-kilometer run in less than 4.5 hours.
Experienced runners advised her to slowly increase the distance but Ha thought that “it is boring to do that. Easy jobs sometimes make me heedless.”
|Tran Thi Thu Ha successfully completes the 105-kilometer mountain route. Photo: Supplied|
After conquering the 70-kilometer distance and most of the tough mountain races in Vietnam, Ha looked for competitions in other countries to test herself.
“I knew that Thailand often organizes leading trail running competitions in the region, while costs are low, so why not try once?” Ha excitedly said.
She immediately registered for a trail run in January and competed in September. She practiced improving her capability from 70 to 105 kilometers in eight months.
“During the practice process, I felt I could completely conquer the over-100-kilometer race but I was not sure if the race completion time was as expected,” Ha said.
When she felt ready, she prepared equipment for the race, arranged her work, and set her family’s mind at rest.
“Others go abroad for the first time for work, study or travel, while I went for an ultra trail race,” Ha noted.
Her group had 12 members. Everything in Thailand was good, except for the weather. Torrential rains in Mae Chaem District, Chiang Mai Province in northern Thailand lasted until close to the competition time.
“[I was] worried but also excited as passing new routes in harsh climate conditions would bring valuable experiences,” Ha recounted.
Despite careful preparations, Ha still met difficulties with the terrain there. Muddy roads due to rains made her feet swell and peel. The 105-kilometer race in Thailand was not as easy as she had imagined.
Passing one-third of the distance, her knees became tired, almost making her cry and give up.
Although she is brave, she was sometimes frightened, especially when she passed through deserted sections and virgin forests.
The question 'Why do I have to do that?' was in her mind at the time but after finishing the trail, she got the answer: to challenge herself to grow, better love and understand her body, and practice her ability to manage emotions.
The obstinacy and determination helped the Vietnamese girl successfully conquer the 105-kilometer distance in 23.5 hours. She did not sleep, only stopping to eat on the way.
However, Ha was not satisfied after such a difficult race. She had hoped to complete it in a shorter time.
|Seeing Tran Thi Thu Ha working as an office worker, it is hard to believe that she is a real runner. Photo: An Vi / Tuoi Tre|
When being asked whether running is her passion, Ha denied it, saying that “it’s just a hobby."
She added that passion must be something that she wants to pursue and is willing to sacrifice herself for, and it must definitely generate an income to support herself.
“Running or conquering trails is simply my hobby, not my source of income. My current top priority is still work," Ha affirmed.
This pastime is quite costly. As a case in point, the race in Thailand cost her several million Vietnamese dong for two pairs of shoes. A smart watch worth more than US$500 was also her purchase.
She needed protective clothes, food, and a flashlight.
Ha is nurturing an intention to conquer a 160-kilometer distance but she still needs time to prepare for it, at least two years.
She hopes to be healthy enough to complete 42-kilometer races at the age of 70.
Born in a poor village in central Quang Ngai Province, Ha has become a painstaking person, so she is fond of challenges.