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A Vietnamese man on crutches scales peak after peak

By Khanh Ly   September 19, 2018 | 07:37 pm PT
A man who cannot walk goes jogging, does yoga and climbs mountains, literally and metaphorically.

Dinh Dang is committed to his weekly workout schedule. Five to six kilometers of jogging in the park and some yoga exercise.

This is a man who is on crutches, having lost the ability to walk even before he came of walking age.

Dang was just one when one of his legs was laid low by a debilitating disease. His memories about being piggybacked by friends to school are still vivid. He also remembers feeling left out of childhood games that normal children had the privilege to enjoy.

Today, Dang has done the impossible.

A university graduate, he works at a top tech company. He gets up at 4:30 a.m. to prepare his meals for the day and by 5:00 am he is ready for mild exercises, either jogging in his garden or doing 30 crunches. He does pushups, too, using just his left leg. There are good days where 100 pushups is just another challenge overcome.

Dang has set a personal goal of 10,000 steps a day, deemed sufficient to maintain a healthy body. Each determined step by Dang motivates his friends to train themselves. Dang updates his group of friends the number of kilometers he’s walked as a daily reminder. The amateur athlete also incorporates yoga and swimming in his daily training.

Dang at the Trang An 2018 marathon. Photo courtesy of Pham Vu Vu

Dang at the Trang An 2018 marathon. Photo courtesy of Pham Vu Vu

Dang uses his daily routine as a tune up for long-distance jogging. Seriously. He enrolled for the Trang An marathon on September 9, which was a huge jump in distance from his 10,000 steps challenge.

It was drizzling on the day of the marathon. His competition did not start until 7:00 am, but Dang was already up and about at 5:00 a.m., cheering those who would do the entire 42km. His own marathon was 10km long. While the rain might not be a big problem for other runners, Dang was concerned with the slippery route, which was not very crutch-friendly.

At 7:00 a.m., he began his “run.”

While his left leg could hold some weight, his right had nothing. It was completely limp. At the fourth kilometer of the 10km journey, the calluses on his hands, formed by friction with the crutches, were hurting. His arms and shoulders were weary.

"My shoulders were completely worn out and the prospect of another 6km prompted me to stop and give up." Then he took a deep breath and overlooked the pain. The cheers of an admiring audience on both sides of the road gave him added strength and energy.

He completed the run in two hours and 20 minutes, and the applause was overwhelming.

Dang crossed the challenge off his personal list. He has drawn inspiration from the world renowned Nick Vujicic, an Australian motivational speaker born without any limb.

Dang conquers Fansipan mountain. Photo courtesy of Dinh Dang

Dang conquers Fansipan mountain. Photo courtesy of Dinh Dang

Daunting as the slippery 10km marathon was, Dang has actually scaled higher peaks.

He has already made it to the top of Fansipan in two days. 

Fansipan is the highest summit in Vietnam and the Indochinese Peninsula. The 3,143 meter long incline is no piece of cake for fully abled people, but with his one functional leg and crutches, and his constant companions, Dang made it.

Standing at the summit of Fansipan with the national flag, Dang was filled with euphoria.

“I felt like I’ve been living my life to the full, that I fear no obstacle. I encourage other friends with disabilities to have more faith in themselves,” Dang told VnExpress.

In September 2015, he also embarked on a solo one-month journey from Hanoi to Ca Mau on a three-wheeled motorcycle.

We don’t know what peak Mr. Stupendous will scale next.

But we can be sure of one thing: it will inspire awe and inspire us.

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