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Young H’mong Boy Steals The Show At Sapa Mountain Marathon

The second Vietnam Mountain Marathon took place over the weekend of 20-21 September, with almost 400 runners from 40 nations descending on the mountains of Sapa to take on trails of 10, 21, 42 and a monstrous 70km in length.

And this was no ordinary race - the buffalo beaten paths took the runners into remote parts of the Sapa hills, across rice paddies and even right through villagers’ front yards as local kids cheered them on.

International winners

Winner of the 2013 70km race, Simon Grimstrup of Denmark, successfully defended his title, beating back very tough competition. “It’s a unique experience in an remote environment with amazing views, very varied terrain, fantastic local culture and excellent trails,” he said. “It was a really tough race that everyone should be proud to finish!”

The women’s 70km was won by Switzerland’s Nora Senn, who said: “I loved all the technical trails, the cool rivers and the steep climb in the end. A huge smile was on my face for the whole race."

In the 42km race, Hanoi-based runners stole the show. The men’s event was won by Britain, David Lloyd, while American, Samantha Young, took top spot on the female podium.

She described the beauty of the course as the highlight of her weekend: “After kilometer 10 we headed up a buffalo trail. Off to the left the ground fell away into a valley with mountains rising up again on the other side as far as you could see. Shadows were heightening the contours of all the mountains, clouds clinging to the tops and there was no one else in sight. It was one of those moments of giddy happiness feeling engulfed by the mountains and thinking 'this is why I run!'

Vietnamese winners

The inaugural 10km race was held on the Sunday in Sapa town, drawing large crowds and seeing local runners top the podium in both the men’s and women’s events. In the men’s race, Sùng A Tỏa lead in the field while Vàng Thị Theo claimed victory among the females.  

H’mong boy steals the show

It was a young H’mong boy of just seven years old who stole the show, however. Appearing from nowhere on the start line with a huge grin and no shortage of energy, he joined in the race and never stopped running.

Half a marathon (21km) through the mountains later, he bounded down the finish shoot smiling from ear-to-ear as the crowd gave the biggest cheers of the day.

Huge sums raised

Every entry fee for the event included a $20 donation to Sapa O’Chau and a total of VND123,000,000 was raised. Sapa O’Chau runs a variety of local projects, including its own school with over 70 students. Many ethnic minority kids from the villages surrounding Sapa have limited access to educational opportunities beyond the age of ten. Even before that, many drop out of school to help their families. There is a clear need to enhance the educational opportunities of ethnic minority youths in Sapa and the Vietnam Mountain Marathon is proud to be part of these efforts.

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