November 28, 2023
HANOI – Nguyễn Văn Lai set a new tournament record, winning the VnExpress Marathon Hanoi Midnight 2023 on November 26.
The former SEA Games champion finished first in a time of 2hr 25.04min, setting a new height in the men’s full marathon category.
The previous record of 2:31.00 was set by Trịnh Quốc Lượng in the 2020 edition.
The 42km class lured a number of strong runners such as Lê Tấn Hi, Trương Văn Quân, Nguyễn Quốc Anh and Vũ Đình Duân. It was considered a tough race and difficult to predict the winner.
However, Lai did not meet any challenges from rivals. He went solo from the beginning to the end of the race.
Despite the record, Lai was not totally pleased with the result as it was four seconds short of his target.
“In cool weather conditions and with direct opponents, my achievement may not just have been a new record,” Lai told Việt Nam News.
“The midnight run was organised at an unusual time which deviated from the circadian rhythm also causing challenges for runners to push up the pace.
“My goal will be sub 2:25 (running 42km under 2.25hr) before I think about plans to compete internationally and a new national record,” said Lai who first won a full marathon event at the VnExpress Marathon Huế earlier this year.
Lai was Việt Nam’s legendary runner in the 5,000m and 10,000m categories as he dominated the domestic and SEA Games competition for more than a decade.
He stepped back from international tournaments last year but is still an unbeatable rival locally. He just secured two golds at the National Athletics Championships last month in Hà Nội.
With November 26’s result, Lai has become the fastest marathoner of 2023.
Quốc Anh came second, nearly 11 minutes after him. Văn Tâm was third at 2:40.20.
On the women’s side, national team member Phạm Thị Hồng Lệ did not meet any difficulty to win the top podium. She finished in a time of 2:56.06.
She was followed by Nông Thị Trang (3:09.59) and Tạ Thị Minh Nghĩa (3:11.20).
While the full marathon was a solo performance of the two former SEA Games champions, the half marathons were competitive until the final meters.
Nguyễn Trung Cường and Hà Văn Nhật set up a dual race on the men’s side, while Bùi Thị Thu Hà and Đoàn Thu Hằng were arch-rivals in the women’s.
Both pairs ran neck-and-neck throughout the race. None of them establish a gap larger than 2m against their rivals.
Only a few hundred meters before the finish, SEA Games’ 3,000m steeplechase winner Cường made a fast sprint to cross the finish line first in a time of 1:16.37, melting Nhật’s plan to take the title to celebrate his birthday.
Nhật was second at 1:16.42, just five seconds after Cường. Đinh Thanh Huệ came third at 1:16.55 to take bronze.
Minutes later, Hà passed Hằng, also in the last meters, to secure her title with a time of 1:18.57.
Hằng tried her best but could only be the second finisher on 1:19.05.
Bùi Thị Ngân claimed bronze with 1:28.24.
In the 10km categories, Nguyễn Kim Bảo Ngọc came from behind to win the men’s title, clocking 35.25min.
Kenji Oyama of Japan was second with 35.30, followed by Nguyễn Duy Đạt at 35.51.
Phạm Thị Huệ dominated the women’s race, finishing after 36.25.
Đặng Thị Thu Phương (49.26) and Nguyễn Thị Mai (51.04) were second and third, respectively.
The 5km run saw SEA Games silver medallist Lương Đức Phước take the men’s gold and Nguyễn Thị Chuyên earned the women’s top position.
The midnight run featured about 11,000 marathoners in newly designed courses that spanned five districts and passed through the city’s famous landmarks.
About 2,000 children were also invited to run in the Kun Marathon as an effort of the organisers to popularise sports passion to the wider community. VNS