Be prepared for an extraordinary adventure: Explore the usually closed territory of Sapa, North Vietnam, where only some locals call home. Meander through small dirt roads and narrow trails. Breathe in fresh, crisp air as you witness the splendiferous mountain ranges of Hoang Lien National Park and nearby valleys. Survey rice fields on terrace-clad hills. Cross bamboo bridges. Bypass water buffaloes and mountain pigs. Be spurred on by the cheers of local children.
All this is part of the 3rd Vietnam Mountain Marathon (VMM), the biggest off-road running event ever in Vietnam! In this edition, four different race routes will be available: 10km, 21km, 42km and 70km. The marathon race day is on Saturday, 26 September 2015, while the 10km Sapa Run will take place on Sunday, 27 September 2015.
You have to be mentally and physically prepared though—the half, full and ultra marathons are all very challenging! After all, the VMM is also a qualifying race for famous Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® 2016 with 2 points. Marathoners are expected to bring their own water and energy foods on their run/hike, which will see them scaling up and down challenging yet exhilarating ascents and descents.
But it’ll all seem worth it at the finish line where a jubilant atmosphere awaits. As with past years, there will be a camaraderie of runners and supporters cheering finishers across the line until nightfall and beyond. After the gruelling race, enjoy a hearty meal around a big bonfire with fellow mountain runners under the twinkling stars, amongst the mountain peaks and valleys in the backdrop.
Feel free to recharge after an arduous event by extending your trip with the optional travel packages on offer. Opt to stay an extra night or few nights and book a trip to Halong Bay, an active getaway package to Hoi An, or a deluxe Phu Quoc Beach break package.
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Race fees for the 10km Sapa Run is US$20 for foreigners. The half and full marathons cost US$129 while the ultra costs US$159. Amongst other things, this includes a finisher’s medal, competitor’s T-shirt, a light lunch post-run on Saturday and a charity donation to of US$20 to Sapa O’Chau. A local NGO, Sapa O’Chau runs a variety of local projects, including its own school with over 70 students, who are the ethnic minority staying in villages around Sapa.
There are also 3 and 4-day packages covering accommodation, meals, activities for friends and family, and much more. Rough it out by camping in your own or a rented tent at Topas Ecolodge, a green hilltop 1,000m above sea level. There will be toilets and showers nearby so you can still camp with ease and comfort. Alternatively, you can also choose to stay at one of the bungalows there with your family and friends who have come to run with you or support you.
Whether you are a newbie or seasoned trail runner, you should definitely take a look at their equipment tips. Find out about this and more on the Vietnam Mountain Marathon official website.