Quang Ngai,Ly Son Island,Tiền Phong Newspaper Marathon,Vietnam's longest-running marathon
Runner Pham Thi Hong Le (right) seen at the SEA Games 2019. She will compete in the nation’s longest-running marathon, the Tiền Phong Newspaper Marathon. Photo nld.com.vn

The event will be held in Quang Ngai Province’s Ly Son Island on July 4-5.

Hong won bronze in the women’s marathon of the SEA Games 2019 in the Philippines and silver in the women’s 10,000m event to help Vietnam's athletics team take top spot in the region.

In Ly Son, Le will face familiar rivals Hoang Thi Ngoc Hoa of Binh Phuoc and Leo Thi Tinh of Son La.

“I have focused on learning about the running track, the weather in Ly Son and my rivals. But the biggest opponent is still me,” said Le.

During social distancing to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, like many other athletes, defending champion of the Tiền Phong Newspaper Marathon, Le did not have any races to compete in.

“For the past half-year, I have not had the feeling of competing so I'm very excited about this race. I trained to get used to the weather and climate in Ly Son. The COVID-19 pandemic did not significantly affect my training. Just me and my teammates were not allowed to compete,” said Le.

In last year’s race, overcoming the challenges of sunshine, wind and sloping roads along the coast of Vung Tau City, Le and Bui The Anh all showed why they are the top marathon runners in Vietnam.

Le finished first with a time of three hours one minute and 58 seconds. The Binh Dinh Province-native led the runner-up by more than eight minutes and the third-placed runner by nearly 12 minutes.

On the men's side, the competition was more intense between Anh and Nguyen Quoc Dung of Khanh Hoa. Anh of the Military team won the title with a time of 2:38.36, nearly one minute faster than Dung.


Return of SEA Games gold medallist

This year's men's race features several experienced runners who could triumph, such as Le Van Tuan of Binh Duong, Hoang Nguyen Thanh of Binh Phuoc, Nguyen Van Long of Gia Lai, defending runner-up Dung of Khanh Hoa, Le Tan Hi of Lam Dong, Le Quang Hoa of Quang Tri and Vu Van Son of Ninh Binh.

All of the men know each other well and have competed in this race many times.

As defending champion Anh will not compete in this year’s event, Son, who won the event in 2017 in Ninh Binh Province, is being tipped to win.

The return of Thanh is a notable development. The Binh Phuoc Province-native brought Vietnam a bronze medal in the men’s marathon at the 2015 SEA Games.

Thanh participated in the 2016 National Athletics Championships in Hanoi and took a two-year break from professional competition before returning earlier this year at the Ba Ra Mountain Climbing Tournament in Binh Phuoc Province. Last December, Thanh triumphed in the HCM City Marathon with a time of 2:29.29.

Thanh has participated in the Tiền Phong Newspaper Marathon for six years but has never been on the top podium.

“Regarding my rivals this year, I appreciate Tuan, Nhat, Son and Hi. I am very excited to face them,” said Thanh.

"My goal is to get to the top because I have failed in this race before," Thanh added.

The event will attract nearly 2,000 runners from home and abroad, including more than 200 domestic professional runners. VNS