A recent ultra marathon held in a small Ho Chi Minh City neighborhood has brought a lot of attention to the sport's growing popularity in the southern metropolis.
The 3rd Ultra Night Marathon is an annual ultra marathon with 30km, 50km, and 80km options organized by the Run For Fun (RFF) Club in District 7’s Phu My Hung New Urban Area.
This latest event began at 8:00 pm on December 29 and ended at 8:00 am the following morning.
All of the event's 127 slots were filled within 48 hours from when registration opened, according to Do Thanh Vi Ngan, RFF’s president.
“We couldn’t allow more runners to participate because it had already been very difficult to get an official permit for the event approved by local authorities,” Ngan elaborated.
“We had to explain to the Phy My Hung management board that the race was only meant for passionate runners.”
On race night, as participants from several of the city’s running clubs, including Vietrun, SBR, PTR, and “Chay Nhu Rua” (Run Like a Tortoise) lined up at the starting line of the 1.9 kilometer course in Nam Vien Park eager to begin their first of dozens of laps, a feeling of community became contagious.
Originally the marathon was organized as a friendly event to say farewell to an RFF member, Ngan recalled.
“Running at night is really fun and can be addictive,” the club president remarked.
That realization led RFF to decide to host the event on an annual basis.
Nguyen Van Long, a member of VietRun Club, not only won the 80km race but chose to run until he chalked up 102km, besting his own goal of 100km.
|A young boy participates in the run. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Do Thi Nguyen, another VietRun member, was the event’s best female runner.
Several participants made the trip from nearby provinces to participate in the fun.
Phuc, a member of RFF Bien Hoa in Dong Nai Province, about 35 kilometers northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, is one such runner.
He said his family used to think he was ‘possessed by the Devil’ because he spends so much of his free time running. At one point he was so addicted to pounding the sidewalk that his wife burned his running shoes.
“Not many people run in Bien Hoa. Everyone thought there was something strange about me,” Phuc explained.
According to Hanh Linh, a full-time bank employee by day and RFF media guru by night, the club has ties with 18 other running clubs in the southern metropolis, and several more throughout the rest of the country.
“That’s why we had such diverse groups of participants for the event,” Linh stated.
Runners did not have to pay a fee, Linh continued, adding that the only requisite was that they signed up with two other friends.
“We were able to raise tens of millions of dong [VND10 million = US$430] from sponsors and donated all of the money to a children’s heart surgery fund,” Ngan said.