Vietnam Jungle Marathon 2022

[Vietnam Jungle Marathon race report, 12km]

[Signing up for ‘trouble’] In Aug, K and I registered for this Jungle Marathon thingy and boy oh boy, sometimes it really is just easier to ‘don’t think so much’ and ‘just sign up only’. Because that is the first step and the very impetus needed to motivate oneself into working towards something. Works super, at least for me!

Had such a bad BAD BADDDDD first trail race at Cultra in July, I almost swore off it. This time round I did things differently - I prepared. Was more coy about my lead up because I really wasn’t sure how it was gonna turn out and if I had a shitty race I could pretend it never happened. Lo & behold, Covid struck 1.5weeks before *inserts crying emoji* Thankfully, my symptoms were pretty mild and I turned negative really quickly. I felt ready enough to do a light run on Day 4 and a few days later I ran a conservative 5k (5:30 pace) for a SUP-relay event where Hakeem and I teamed up and got 2nd! Even then, I went into this race with very low expectations. I wasn’t sure what my body could take, especially the heart.

[Pre-race things] K and I flew into Hanoi on Thurs, took the VJM transport down to Pu Luong on Fri and raced on Sat. Pu Luong is this quiet, sleepy town nestled 5 hours away from Hanoi. We took a recce jog/walk in the surroundings to loosen the tight legs and found it to be so beautiful.

The next morning K woke up really early to get ready for his 25km which started at 7am, while I slowly trudged around and got ready for mine. Had 2 bananas and 2 dates and off I went to the start line, with a bunch of nerves in tow. Squeezed myself to the front (learnt this from smelly welly) so I won’t be part of the bottleneck at narrow trails. 

[First half of the race]The first 500m was a pretty steep uphill and I found myself huffing and puffing as I moved my legs one step at a time. After which it was running on some terrains through the village, and then the uphills. I was already slightly more ready for inclines (compared to July!!) but even then I was still left with laboured breathing just midway through the climbs. It was also at this time that I realised I *might* just be in the front of the pack and that very thought kept me pushing through. 

And then, the bestest most favouritessstttt part of the run would be the 2-3km of gentle undulating road running. It allowed me to gain good ground quickly, and also increase the distance between my competitors and myself because I know when we enter the trails again they’d catch up in no time. 

True enough, when we were at the padi fields I was moving around gingerly, hoping not to fall into the fields and ruin the farmers’ crops, but more importantly, I just didn’t want to fall! Mid way, I saw an old frail man planting his rice right beside where we were running. I offered him an apologetic smile and a weak wave as a peace offering for destroying his hard work. Oopsy daisy.

[Are we there yet?] The last part of the race felt never-ending. When my Garmin hit 10km, I was happy and thought to myself, “ok 2 more km”. I passed on my enthusiasm and good energy to this feisty lil’ teen boy running behind me, signalling to him that we were almost there!! At 11km, I was like “are we there yet???” and then 12km came and went, and I didn’t see no ending line in sight. Wahlao eh, like kena cheated feeling.  And then a spectator clued me in with a “300 more metres!!” which gave me the much-needed energy for one last burst. Crossed the line at 12.5km and SO glad to be done with this :) 

ALAS, I DID IT!! It was beautiful - some little river crossings, bamboo bridges, running on padi fields, trails and roads. Enjoyable? 🤔 Less painful? HAHA. Icing on the cake: came in 4th for women’s category and 17th overall in a field of 447 🤡 All in all, I can confidently say I’m not a trail runner :P I fell so many times and was timid like a mouse 🐭. BUT BUT BUT if I choose my races properly, maybe can try a few more. Let’s see!
Happy to be repping @reddotrunningco and wearing the amazing gears they bring in. 

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