Malaysian runner learns Vietnamese through VnExpress Marathons

By Thi Nguyen   August 12, 2023 | 06:00 am PT
Murugan Subramaniam has learned many Vietnamese words by participating in VnExpress Marathons held in Quy Nhon, Hue, HCMC, and Nha Trang.

The 41-year-old Malaysian is one of 300 foreign runners participating in VM Nha Trang this weekend. He came to the city on Thursday, received his Bib on Friday before taking time to explore the local food and scenery.

Subramaniam said that he had joined eight VM races previously and was always one of the first Bib buyers. He likes the vibrant atmosphere at April 2 Square - people were coming in and out, and everyone looked excited.

He took the initiative to greet other runners and received friendly smiles in return for handshakes, even making some new friends.

VM Nha Trang 2023 marks the 9th time Murugan Subramaniam has participated in a running race under the VnExpress Marathon system. Photo by Lam Thoa

VM Nha Trang 2023 marks the 9th time Murugan Subramaniam has participated in a VnExpress Marathon race. Photo by Lam Thoa

Subramaniam has lived in HCMC for 10 years, but he is not fluent in Vietnamese because of the language's many tones and complicated structures.

However, after joining VM in Quy Nhon, Hue, HCMC, and Hanoi, he gradually learned and memorized some words with positive nuances and expressions such as "gioi lam" or "tot lam" (very good), and "vui lam" (very happy). For him, "co len" (try your best) is the warmest, dearest words and the necessary encouragement at the races.

He remembers falling tired when crossing water stations or running on steep, bumpy slopes, but the volunteer team was always very supportive. They constantly moved around and handed water quickly to runners.

"Every time I hear them say 'co len,' I'm very happy; I don't feel tired anymore and have more energy to finish the race."

Since then, Subramaniam has often said "co len" to employees, colleagues, relatives, and even the runners he meets on the track.

He also actively said "cam on" (thank you), "dung roi" (that's right), "hen gap lai" (see you again) and countless other words learned from other runners.

In addition, when talking to people, he always integrates Vietnamese words such as "dear em", "hello em" and "nice to meet you em." "Em" is used to address a younger person in Vietnamese.

Subramaniam says he appreciates the organization of VnExpress Marathon races, the beautiful routes according to international standards, and the gifts and useful items. He often gives his friends a finisher's shirt for runners who finish 21 km or 42 km as a gift.

The Malaysian runner was impressed by the airy Bib distribution area, designed for easy entry and exit and preventing congestion.

The support team is always ready to answer any questions. They actively asked him if he needed any help, he said.

Subramaniam and his medal for finishing the 21 km distance at the VnExpress Marathon Quy Nhon last June. Photo provided by himself

Murugan Subramaniam and his medal for finishing the 21 km distance at the VnExpress Marathon Quy Nhon in June 2022. Photo courtesy of Murugan Subramaniam

"I remember the night race in Hanoi the most because I registered for a shirt size that was too small for me. A volunteer asked for my phone number and found me the right-size shirt. I love Vietnamese people because they are friendly, kind, and easy to connect with," Subramaniam said.

For each race, he always sets specific goals and strives to achieve them. He does not aim to surpass anyone's achievements, to compare himself with any runner, but focuses on improving his own skills.

"In Nha Trang this time, I want to surpass my personal record of 2 hours, 27 minutes for the half marathon, just set last week in Da Nang," he added.

VnExpress Marathon Marvelous Nha Trang 2023 takes place on Sunday, becoming the second VM race after VM Ha Long 2022 to attract 11,000 participants. The race comes at the end of summer, when Nha Trang has cool weather and the sea is calm. This is an opportunity for families to enjoy a trip together and experience many modern travel services.

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