Earlier, I used to think anyone running 42 kilometers was crazy, but now I can run over 100 kilometers. I’m even surprised by my own ability.
Looking at her slender and gentle figure, it’s hard to believe that Ha is a real runner. It’s truly amazing to see her achievements in five, 10, 42, and now 105-kilometer races.
Currently, Ha is working at a game development company, just like many other people. She spends her days working diligently at her company and then goes for a run in the Sala Thu Thiem Urban Area in Ho Chi Minh City after work.
Ha started running several years ago and it became more of a passion for her after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. She recalls wearing any available outfit and even transforming her work shoes into running gear.
Initially, she ran just for fun and didn’t have any goals of winning prizes or contests. She ran to challenge herself and improve her health.
Ha runs for 30 minutes to several hours every day. Sometimes, she starts running at 8:00 pm after finishing work. Even though she feels exhausted, she keeps pushing herself because she believes that if she skips running one day, she might become lazy on more days.
In the beginning, she would feel dizzy after completing just five kilometers. She never imagined that she would be able to conquer 105 kilometers in Thailand.
However, Ha is tireless and loves challenges. She gradually increased her targets to 10 and 21 kilometers before finally completing a 42-kilometer run in less than 4.5 hours.
After conquering the 70-kilometer distance and most of the tough mountain races in Vietnam, Ha decided to seek new challenges in other countries.
She heard that Thailand often organizes leading trail running competitions in the region. The cost of participating in such races is relatively low, so she registered for a trail run in January and competed in September.
Ha spent eight months practicing and increasing her capability from 70 to 105 kilometers. She felt confident that she could complete the race, but was unsure if she would complete it within her expected time.
Nevertheless, she prepared all the necessary equipment, arranged her work schedule, and put her family’s mind at ease. Going abroad for a trail race was a whole new experience for her.
Her group consisted of 12 members, and everything was going well in Thailand except for the weather. Torrential rains in Mae Chaem District, Chiang Mai Province, persisted until close to the competition time.
Despite the worries, Ha was excited because overcoming new routes in harsh weather conditions would be a valuable experience for her.
During the race, she encountered difficulties with the terrain. The muddy roads caused her feet to swell and peel. The 105-kilometer race in Thailand was much more challenging than she had anticipated.
One-third of the way through the race, her knees became tired, and she almost cried and wanted to give up. Even though she was brave, there were moments when fear crept in, especially when she passed through deserted sections and virgin forests.
But the question of “Why am I doing this?” lingered in her mind. After completing the race, she found the answer. She did it to challenge herself, to better love and understand her body, and to practice managing her emotions.
Her determination and perseverance paid off as she successfully conquered the 105-kilometer distance in 23.5 hours. She didn’t sleep during the race, only stopping to eat along the way.
Despite such a difficult race, Ha was not satisfied. She had hoped to complete it in a shorter time.
When asked if running is her passion, Ha denied it and said, “It’s just a hobby.” She explained that a passion is something you want to pursue and are willing to sacrifice for. It also needs to generate income to support oneself.
For Ha, running and conquering trails are simply hobbies and not a source of income. Her current priority is still her work.
Her hobby, however, can be quite costly. For example, the race in Thailand cost her several million Vietnamese dong for two pairs of shoes, and she also invested in a smartwatch worth more than US$500. She needed protective clothes, food, and a flashlight for her races.
Ha has a desire to conquer the 160-kilometer distance, but she knows she needs time to prepare for it, at least two years. She hopes to still be healthy and complete 42-kilometer races when she turns 70.
Ha, born in a poor village in central Quang Ngai Province, has become a determined and persevering person who loves challenges.