A 42-year-old Vietnamese man has been running circles around the country’s fitness community, literally, after notching achievements which include a 1,200km journey over the past month and a detailed plan for an upcoming 2,500km journey from Hanoi to Thailand.
Nguyen Hoa Viet, born in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, is doing his best to use running to promote environmental awareness in the Vietnamese sporting community.
“The more you connect with nature, the more you learn to appreciate what it has to offer. It makes you want to try harder to protect the environment that you live in,” Viet remarked, sharing that he even keeps a strictly vegetarian diet.
Though running has brought him fame, Viet also swims, cycles, and treks.
When he is not competing, he volunteers to help local marathons, ultra marathons, and triathlons including Ironman, Dalat Ultra Trail, and Tam Dao Mountain Trail.
Starting out as a cyclist
Viet was previously a member of the cycling team in the northern province of Quang Ninh and has participated in multiple races across China.
He started running about three years ago and is now able to finish a 42km marathon in less than four hours.
Viet has also pushed his own limits by partaking in super marathons covering distances of 70 and 100km, as well as challenging himself by running for 24 straight hours.
During the 24-hour-running event recently held at Thong Nhat Park in Hanoi, he managed to complete 130km.
In August, Viet took part in UpRace, a marathon to raise funds for NewBorns Vietnam, a British charitable organization which works to reduce the country’s neonatal death rate.
He completed a total of 1,214km within 29 days, the longest distance covered by the event’s 30,000 participants.
His achievement helped raise VND1.5 million (US$64) for Newborns Vietnam.
Viet was also a pacer at the Long Bien Marathon in Hanoi on October 28, where his aboriginal-style costume impressed the spectators and other participants.
He completed the 42km run in just three hours and 45 minutes.
Viet’s next endeavor, conquering the 2,500km route from Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake to Thailand, will begin at 5:00 am on November 5.
Viet and one of his friends have planned the journey and found sponsors for the run.
Le Hoang, a local marathoner, will be cycling along Viet during his journey.
The man will be pushing a cart carrying about 40 kilograms of necessities, including a tent, a hammock, cooking tools, and running gear.
He expects to complete 50km on a daily basis.
Viet also plans to post a tracklog for others to follow and join him along his journey.
Many members of the running community have promised to donate certain amounts of money to the Newborns Vietnam for every kilometer that Viet completes.
“Viet’s healthy, spiritual, and optimistic lifestyle is a dream of many. He is also loved by a lot of people,” said Trang Ha, a writer and marathoner who has known Viet for 21 years.