VnExpress marathons attract wave of Japanese runners

By Nhan Dat   July 23, 2022 | 06:00 am PT
VnExpress marathons attract wave of Japanese runners
Harada Tamae in a marathon in Vietnam in June 2022. Photo courtesy of Harada Tamae
All foreign runners in the top 30 of the VnExpress Marathon ranking system are Japanese, revealing their love for the tournaments.

There are three non-Vietnamese athletes in the top 30 men and women in VnExpress Marathon (VM) rankings - Akane Nemoto, Harada Tamae in the women's group and Sueyoshi Tomohiro in the men's group. All live and work in Vietnam.

Nemoto is in the top six among women, finishing 11th in the full marathon at VnExpress Marathon Sparkling Quy Nhon last month. Tamae ranked 23rd overall in two 2022 VM tournaments so far, while Tomohiro is 22nd in the men's group.

From the 2022 season, VM organizers will release an overall ranking of runners, based on their tournament results on the VM system. The top 50 men and women will be given bibs for free and receive a lot of transportation support from organizers in the next marathon. Therefore, the Japanese runners have more motivation to attend and maintain their high achievements at VM tournaments.

Tamae just returned from last week's Cameron Ultra Trail in Malaysia, where she completed her goal of running 100 kilometers in less than 20 hours, finishing fourth. Although she was tired after a tournament that requires a lot of physical strength, the 39-year-old runner will still attend the next VM in Ha Long on Sunday.

"I want to enjoy the VnExpress Marathon. The organizers always want to bring the best to the runners and I really appreciate that," Tamae said.

Japan is a running powerhouse not only in Asia, but also in the world. But for Tamae, the inspiration for running only came when she went to Vietnam to work at an inspection company. Instead of walking to work like in Japan, Tamae rides a motorbike and feels the need to exercise.

Despite her busy schedule, she still tries to find time to run before going to work. She runs an average of 200 kilometers per month. Tamae has joined the Ho Chi Minh City Running Club, where she met many Japanese as well as other friends from the Philippines, Canada and Malaysia. After nearly 10 years of running, Tamae is now a regular at most marathons in Vietnam. At VM Hue, she achieved her best personal results, finishing the full marathon after three hours and 43 minutes.

Ho Chi Minh City Running Club also features Akane Nemoto, who ranks sixth on the VM scoring system. Nemoto's best memories in the marathons also came from VM Hue 2022, where she finished the full marathon after three hours and 30 minutes. That is the goal Nemoto has aspired to after six years of running.

Akane Nemoto at the finish line of VnExpress Marathon Hue

Akane Nemoto at the finish line of VnExpress Marathon Hue in April 2022. Photo by VnExpress

Nemoto came to Vietnam five years ago, working as a senior manager in the marketing department of a company in Binh Duong. Like Tamae, Nemoto is busy with work, but always finds time to run in Vietnam. According to the 33-year-old, running helps her stay healthy, happy and maintain the energy needed for work and life.

Having attended big marathons in Japan, Nemoto is still impressed with those in Vietnam.

"There are a lot of running tournaments in Japan because it's a popular sport in our country. But running in Vietnam is still different from Japan. In Japan, the races usually take place in the fall and winter instead of summer, and usually start at 9 a.m.

"In Vietnam, the tournaments are spread across the year and start a few hours earlier. Besides, Vietnamese people have an interesting culture that they often drink beer after a run. That's something I've never seen in Japan," Nemoto said.

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