"2022 has been the busiest year ever for marathon lovers with races held almost every week. Our competition schedules were even tighter than the training plan. We were busier than ever researching and selecting competitions to sign up for group tickets," said Nguyen Phuc Hau, head of Phu My Hung running club.
His team of about 2,000 members attended almost all major marathons this year.
Increase in scale and quality
In 2019, Vietnam had an estimated 15 major marathon tournaments. Some races had more than 10,000 registrants.
Due to Covid-19, many tournaments were postponed in the next two years.
In 2022, the number of races with more than 10,000 participants has increased. Techcombank Ho Chi Minh attracted 12,000 runners; VnExpress Marathon Amazing Halong 11,000; VnExpress Marathon Quy Nhon and Hanoi, VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight, and Longbien Marathon, each attracted 10,000.
Not only increasing in size and number, the marathons have spread all over the country. The northern region has been the most active destination for marathons, with many tournaments held in Hanoi, Quang Ninh, Lao Cai, Ha Giang... and with a variety of races, from long run, trail to aquathlon.
The central region, including Hue, Da Nang, Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Quang Nam..., which boasts coastal beauty, has attracted both domestic and foreign runners. Especially, the Central Highlands region has been well-known for trail races that combine running and exploring mountains.
The Mekong Delta region, though entering the movement later, has left its mark with tournaments in Hau Giang, Can Tho, Long An, and Dong Thap.
Small-scale running events were also held with a scale of a few hundred to thousands of runners.
Virtual running, a new trend, has drawn thousands of participants regardless of their locations.
Hau of Phu My Hung running club said the popularity of marathons set higher standards for marathon organizations. Runners will prefer tournaments with professional organization, beautiful course, and a variety of benefits.
"With many tournaments to choice, we have our own criteria based on interests and needs. Most like to go to tourist cities to combine running and travel," Hau said.
A boost to workout
The marathon movement also motivates training. Many runners started 2022 with only 5-10km races, but by the end of the year, they have been able to finish 21 or even 42km.
The "beyond yourself" mindset pushed them to move forward. They saw the next tournament as an opportunity to test their progress by signing up for longer distances or registering new personal records.
More and more runners are able to complete a full marathon. According to statistics from SportStats, the tournament with the most runners completing the full marathon is VPBank Hanoi Marathon, 2,000.
VnExpress Marathon expands to 5 races
From only three competitions in 2020 (held in Hue, Quy Nhon, Hanoi), the VnExpress Marathon system has expanded with two more tournaments in Nha Trang and Ha Long, and an Aquaman Vietnam biathlon in Tra Co, Quang Ninh, this year.
Nearly 50,000 runners participated in VnExpress Marathon 2022, making it the largest running system in Vietnam.
The events also attracted about 200,000 visitors to the marathon locations, promoting domestic tourism.
Each tournament with its signatures has brought emotional memories to runners. VnExpress Marathon Hue, a race full of ancient landmarks, took runners through green roads in the heart of the ancient capital or the suburbs with blooming rice fields. VnExpress Marathon Quy Nhon offered a different experience with routes passing by sunny beaches, sand dunes and six challenging bridges.
Ha Long was an inspiring race with the running track along the world's wonder bay. Nha Trang had the longest sea-going road in the VnExpress Marathon system, including the majestic Luong Son pass with views of the beautiful bay Cam Ranh.
The VnExperss Marathon Hanoi Midnight featured the streets and landscapes of the capital in the middle of the night.
Tra Giang, a member of Ha Tinh running club, said VnExpress Marathon system has spread the sporting spirit to the community. "For me, every race is like a tour, offering me chances to explore famous places through the running track. Nha Trang is my most memorable tournament as I ran along the sea with great views," she recalled.
VnExpress Marathon Marvelous Nha Trang in August attracted 8,500 participants, becoming one of the largest events in this city. Vuong Chi Cong, administrator of Nha Trang running club, called the event a "big bang" of sport movement in this city.
He said after the tournament, the number of runners in the club tripled, from 1,000 to more than 3,000 members. The training process has been more methodical and disciplined.
Nguyen Van Thien, Director of Khanh Hoa Department of Culture and Sports, considered the race as an important boost to the sport movement in this province.
"Sport is an indispensable part of a modern and civilized lifestyle," said Thien.
In 2023, the VnExpress Marathon marathon system will comprise seven tournaments: VnExpress Marathon Ho Chi Minh City Midnight in February, Hue in April, Quy Nhon in June, Nha Trang in August, Ha Long in September, Hanoi in November, and Hai Phong in December.