Vietnam Mountain Run – Say Yes to Adventure!
Travel to new destinations offers us a mental escape from the everyday routine we have in our lives. Why not break free and do something daring in the physical sense too?
With so many great places and unique locales to explore in the world, I have become a big fan of combining sight-seeing with fitness challenges. This, my friends, is my new hobby. It’s exciting, it’s adventurous, it’s fun! I’ve been doing it for the past 3 years now and I love it.
It all started when I did the vertical race, climbing over 86 flights of stairs up the Empire State Building in New York (read here). I got such a high from taking part in a unique fitness challenge such as that. It was so atypical from the usual races one does. From them on, I was hooked! The next one I did was a run through an ancient archeological site steeped in history, the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Soon after, it was a run through the Singapore Zoo where we got to whiz by wild animals. The most recent one I did was the Vietnam Mountain Run.
The Vietnam Mountain Run is no ordinary race. It takes place in Sapa, a small town that sits among mountains in northern Vietnam. You might imagine that a race in a mountainous region might include lots of rocky dirt roads, winding trails, and steep inclines. You’re not mistaken.
My 10K race started at central Sapa town with the rest of the race taking me past local minority villages, through scenic ricefields, jungles, and streams. I had trained on flat, pavement roads in urban Singapore. In rural Sapa, I was greeted with the rocky-studded dirt paths, dangerously narrow trails, slippery muddy paths, and steep slopes along the way. I had prepared for a tough race, this was even tougher than I expected. I realized early on that this race was going to be a test of endurance and agility. I had to keep going through a combination of running, climbing, and walking. It was no doubt the hardest race I’d done until now. The first 3 km were essentially downhill but the last 7km were entirely uphill to a height of 1500 meters. Talk about pushing yourself against gravity!
Despite all of that, I made sure to pause every now and then to taken in the incredible scenery in front of me. Yes, I had a race to complete but that didn’t stop me from taking my iPhone out multiple times during the run to take gratuitous selfies and panoramic shots of the gorgeous landscape. I also felt lucky to have gotten the chance to see the quieter, hidden corners of Sapa and access some of the more remote parts of this locality through this run. As I crossed the finish line, I felt a great sense of accomplishment. I had pushed myself to complete a very strenuous race but the journey had been incredible. Now, I’m already thinking about where my next destination and race will be.
|Only the beginning of the run. All easy downhill turns at this point.|
Quick photo to capture myself along this side cliff, and then getting on with the run!
|"What's up with these foreigners wanting to run through our
village? We do it every day,|
it's no big deal."
|In case you're wondering - yes, I stopped a fellow runner to ask if he could take a picture of me as I stood panting like a dog...against this backdrop.|
Waving the Indian flag at the finish line! Oh, so victorious! Haha!