Talk about a truly worldwide affair: The HCMC Marathon is held at a location that’s become a crossroads for travelers from all parts of the globe, so it makes perfect sense to show up in Saigon, Vietnam, on 13 January 2019 if you see yourself as the cosmopolitan sort and love being in the thick of all things global.
Sponsored by the Association of Athletics Federations in HCMC and the HCMC Department of Culture and Sports, this annual event turns Saigon into a mecca that could remind you of the Olympics because it's such a melting pot. Whether you converse in English, French, Spanish, Japanese or any other tongue, speaking the language of running means you’ll always be understood!
The history that launched a race
What were you doing in 1992? If you’re 26-years-old, you were just being introduced to the world by your parents and it would be a year or so before you started walking, at which point, you probably moved from crawling to full-on running, portending your athletic future! That’s also the year the "Ho Chi Minh City Marathon" was born. Who knew it would be bigger, stronger and more exciting 26 years later?
Over time, the HCMC Run went from a small event hosting 250 athletes from 26 nations to one of the hottest tickets in Southeast Asia, and while the race took a hiatus, it came roaring back in 2013 when Vietnam sports authorities brought it back by popular demand. Starting slowly, the reconstituted HCMC Run menu featured three distances: 3km, 5km and 10km.
But Asia’s burgeoning running scene had caught fire and it wasn’t long before a 21km distance that “dared runners to conquer the Phu My Bridge” added an element of adventure that compelled runners who love challenges to sign up! Adding a Kid’s Dash in 2016 and a 42km category celebrating the run’s 25th anniversary, the HCMC Run morphed into a phenomenon that is expected to grow in stature in 2019.
How you benefit from signing up right now
- Early bird rates remain in effect until 12 August, so you can save cash for your time in Vietnam.
- Every year, Saigon offers more things to see, do and experience, so you'll want to see everything new and old.
- Meet people from all corners of the world, including previous winners traveling here from every continent.
- Flights to Saigon are easy to find, whether you’re in Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Mumbai and too many other points of departure to list here!
- Pick your favourite distance: 5km; 10km; 21km or the mother of all distances, 42km.
- The number of entertainments, sites and happenings in and around Saigon that are staged only when the HCMC is run have grown exponentially, so you and your family couldn't get bored if you tried.
See what you will miss if you take a pass
Because you’re being efficient in your planning, now’s the time to look at reduced airfares that will get you to Saigon for a reasonable amount of money. Next, get everyone into the swing of things by reading past accounts of this dynamic race brought to you by your favourite publication.
Start with the 2017 edition of the HCMC Run and follow up with this year’s race. If your expectations aren’t heightened by seeing what you could miss if you take a pass on this race, we’ve no idea what would motivate you!
What you should know before you go
Plane tickets? Check. Hotel reservations? Indeed. Everyone’s registered, too so you snagged that early bird rate. Next up, see what’s in store for you and your family as soon as you arrive in January.
- Race kit pickup starts at 09:00 and remains open until 20:00 on the 12th.
- At the same time, onsite booths and entertainments are scheduled to pump you up for what lies ahead.
- The Kid’s Dash starts at 10:00 a.m. and the awards ceremony follows.
- You get a great night’s sleep so you’re awake with the roosters to run your race!
- Show up at 4:00 a.m. for the official race briefing and a chance to warm up.
- Leave the start line at staggered intervals: 4:30 a.m. for the 42km; 4:40 a.m. for the 21km; 6:25 a.m. for the 10km and 7:30 a.m. for the 5km.
- Run like the wind.
- Show up at the finish line for the award ceremony held between the hours of 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
- Figure out where you’ll display everything you brought back from Vietnam as you make a promise to return in 2020 for an even more exciting time of it.
The Archbishop's Resident
Venue: 180 Nguyen Dinh Chieu st., Ward 6, District 3, HCMC
Description: The oldest building of the city, built in 1790 near the Independence Palace. In 1911, the resident was moved to the current location and remains there until now.
Operating hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ho Chi Minh City Museum of Fine Arts
Venue: 97 Pho Duc Chinh st, District 1
Description: Constructed in the time of 1929-1934 and became the city's museum since 1987, this is the major art museum of the city and second of the country only to the Vietnam National Musem in Hanoi.
Ticket price: VND10.000 ($0.5)
Museum of Vietnamese History
Venue: 2 Nguyen Binh Khiem st, Ben Nghe District 1
Description: Covers the topics of Prehistoric Period, Metal Age (Dong Son culture) including ancient countries like Champa and a part of Chenla (Cambodia nowaday) until 1945, the end of the last Dynasty (Nguyen Dynasty). The museum also served as a pit stop of The Amazing Race Asia season 3.
Operating hours: Close during lunch
Ticket price: VND30,000 ($1.5)
The Jade Emperor Pagoda
Venue: 73 Mai Thi Luu st, District 1
Description: Built-in 1909 for the Chinese community, the pagoda has the typical design and look from them. The pagoda workship the Jade Emperor and many other Buddha, Gods from the Eastern culture. The former president of the USA Barack Obama paid a visit to the pagoda during his state trip to Vietnam in 2016
Ticket price: FREE
Tan Dinh Church (Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Venue: 289 Hai Ba Trung st, District 3
Description: This is the second oldest and largest church of the city to the Saigon Notre Dame Basilica. It was constructed during the French colonial period in the 1880s with Romanesque style and Gothic and Renaissance elements. The church is a much-loved figure in the local community. Now, after so many times of reconstructed, it's covered in Pink which makes its unique look.
Ticket price: FREE
Venue: 127-129 Bui Vien st, District 1 or 26 Ly Tu Trong st, District 1
Description: Bringing the unique taste of Vietnam during the 1980s era. Coming to Cộng's like taking a bus to travel back in time.
Must order: Coffee with coconut milk (VND 65,000/ $2)
Price range: VND 30,000-100,000 ($1.5 - $4)
Venue: 42 Nguyen Hue st, District 1
Description: Filled with many restaurants, coffee shops, tea houses, and fashion shops, shoppers can combine a shopping spree with coffee-hopping with an Instagram-worthy background at every corner. This once abandoned building on the walking street is now a rising cultural spot and a must-visit for all locals and travelers of the city.
Price range: VND50,000-500,000 ($2-$20)
What appeals to you most about the prospect of running the 2019 HCMC? Are you eager to involve your children in this worldwide event or do you love meeting runners from other nations because it broadens your perspective on all aspects of your life?