Canadian, Belgian runners win Vietnam Jungle Marathon hinh anh 1Vanja Cnops on the way to winning the 70km category. (Photo courtesy of the organisers)
Thanh Hoa (VNS/VNA) - Jeff Campbell from Canada and Vanja Cnops from Belgium won the 70km category of the Vietnam Jungle Marathon (VJM) held in Pu Luong Nature Reserve in central Thanh Hoa province at last weekend.

Campbell finished first in the men’s event in seven hours.

“It was a beautiful course, one of the most beautiful I have ever run," Campbell said.

"It was challenging, and there were many strong runners. Hisashi Kitamura (the past champion from Japan) was pushing the pace early on, but then he was struggling a bit on some of the climbs, so I separated and ran the rest on my own. All the crew were amazing, thank you to everyone that made it a great event.”

Cnops, the winner of the women’s 70km, said this was her fifth time racing in Vietnam at the Topas Vietnam Trail Series races, having also taken part in the Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sa Pa and Vietnam Trail Marathon in Moc Chau.

When asked why she keeps coming back to Topas races in Vietnam, she said: “Because they are so well organised and it is so beautiful in Vietnam, so I love to come back every time. This time the course was really beautiful in great weather.”

The 42km male winner was Darren Southcott from the UK. He said: “It was amazing, super well organised and the scenery is absolutely stunning.”

On staying in remote Ban Hang village which is turned into a trail runner’s village for the race, he added: “It’s somewhere I would not have come to otherwise. Super friendly people and a fantastic atmosphere. The crew were super helpful, very encouraging, it was super well organised.”

Actor Nhan Phuc Vinh also finished the 70km. He said: “It was great, and next time I will do the Vietnam Mountain Marathon 100km!”

All Vietnam Trail Series races organised by Topas have a strong charitable focus and the total now raised through all Vietnam Trail Series races for good causes is almost 364,000 USD.

As well as local projects, charities that have benefited from the Vietnam Trail Series races include Hue Help, Newborns Vietnam, Operation Smile and Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.

Funds over the past two years from VJM have been used for drowning prevention programmes in the areas surrounding the VJM race course.

In 2022, Topas will work with the finish line village, Ban Hang, to build new rooms at the village school which is in need of expansion and repair.

Alongside this other charitable work, a group of 50 from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation was supported to join the VJM this year.

Co-CEO of Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, Do Duy Vi said a number of children from his organisation took part in the junior races.

“The kids who joined from Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation had an incredible experience," he said.

"Two of them made it onto the overall podium and many onto the under 12 and under 16 podiums. They loved their time at the race and it will be a great memory for them. They will also now be inspired to keep running and to get ready for their next trail, the Vietnam Trail Marathon in Moc Chau.”/.