Vietnam’s leading pack ready for VnExpress Marathon challenge

By Staff reporters   June 5, 2019 | 06:28 pm PT
Experienced and passionate, teachers, fitness coaches and drivers are among elite Vietnamese athletes running the VnExpress Marathon 2019.

Leading the pack of top Vietnamese marathon runners is Nguyen Linh Chi (L), the only Vietnamese candidate to participate in the Boston Marathon 2019.

The 37-year-old runner finished her race in three hours nine minutes and 31 seconds.

Chi Nguyen, who works for a Saigon-based multimedia and advertisement firm, has finished the 100-km mountain track in the Mont Blanc CCC, participated in seven consecutive marathons in a week, and won a128-km race in Cambodia’s Siem Reap Province.

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Nguyen Dang Khoa has been running since he was 10. The 31-year-old runner, a high school teacher in Saigon, has participated in several running competitions in Vietnam and abroad. He won the Tien Phong Marathon 2018, Vietnam's most prestigious marathon, and won two gold medals at the Vietnam National Games - 800 meters and 1,500 meters.

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Nguyen Tien Hung is a frequent top runner. He started running as a way to lose weight and in just three years, become a semi-professional athlete.

His personal best is two hours 43 minutes and seven seconds at Hanoi's Long Bien Marathon 2018, a race he won.

Hung said he was excited and well-prepared for the VnExpress Marathon this weekend.

"The competition is fierce, with many athletes at the national level participating," he said. "But I hope I will be able to beat myself."

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Nguyen Tieu Phuong is a well-known semi-professional athlete in the Vietnamese running community. The 46-year-old is virtually unmatched in the 40-49 age bracket.

Phuong, who is also a fitness coach, wakes up at 1a.m. every day and hits the streets at 2a.m. She believes "sports changes lives."

She has been running for the last 14 years.

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Nguyen Do Hung, 66, is among the oldest runners to participate in the VnExpress Marathon 2019. A former driver of the Hanoi Bus Company, Hung finished his first full marathon in 2017 and has been striving to improve ever since.

His record was four hours 33 minutes at the Long Bien Marathon 2017, but it was reduced to three hours 52 minutes at an international running tournament in China just a year later. Hung runs four to five kilometers every day at the Thong Nhat Park to maintain his stamina.

"My aim is to be placed in fourth place. Anyone who makes it to the finish line deserves a fourth place," he said.

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Trinh Nam Hai is the leader of a Japanese company in Vietnam. After four years of running, the 47-year-old CEO won a gold medal at the Tien Phong Marathon 2018 for the above 40 age bracket, with a personal record of three hours 12 minutes 27 seconds.

He hopes to make a new breakthrough at the upcoming VnExpress Marathon 2019 in Quy Nhon.

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Nguyen Thi Duong is a well-known semi-professional runner in the Vietnamese running community. Running since 2016, she has several achievements under her belt and never backs down from a challenge.

She was one of the few female runners to finish the 100-km track at the Vietnam Mountain Marathon 2017 in Sa Pa, placing third at 20 hours 15 minutes. Her personal record for a full marathon is three hours 42 minutes at the Long Bien Marathon 2017, in which she was first in the 20-29 age group.

"The VnExpress Marathon is a challenging tournament, with many strong athletes competing. But I will strive for the best results," she said.

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Nguyen Phuong Thuy has been running for over 10 years. An IELTS teacher based in Hanoi, Thuy had the best record as a Vietnamese runner in 70-km track of the Vietnam Mountain Marathon 2018, which she completed in 14 hours. Her personal record in a 42-km race is three hours 38 minutes at the Tien Phong Marathon 2018.

Thuy said she signed up for the 21km race at VnExpress Marathon because her daughter's birthday is June 21.

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Mai Phuong Thuy, Miss Vietnam 2006, is a frequent participant in running competitions. She will compete in the 5km track at VnExpress Marathon. She has been running for the last five years every day and has never skipped practice, she said.

More than 5,000 people, including around 100 foreigners, have registered to participate in the VnExpress Marathon 2019, which is also a charity run. Organizers will donate 10 percent of the ticket sales proceeds to the VnExpress Hope Foundation, which works to improve learning facilities for disadvantaged students.

The runners will gather in the central beach town of Quy Nhon two days ahead of the main race this Sunday.

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