A tribute to the late father
After finishing the 10 kilometer race Sunday, Pham Thien Ha burst into tears of joy and kissed her finisher medal. The 22-year-old said she would put the medal on her father’s altar as soon as she got home. Although Ha did not sign up for the race, she still participated under the name of her father, martyr Pham Van Huong, one of the 13 rescue team members buried while searching for victims of a landslide near Rao Trang 3 Hydropower Plant in Thua Thien-Hue Province on Oct. 13. Huong had registered for the marathon before he died.
“I wanted to finish the last thing my father wanted to do so I decided to take part in this marathon although I’m not an active person and I get tired quickly when running,” Ha said.
Pham Thien Ha holds her medal after finishing the 10 km distance at VnExpress Marathon Hue on December 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Chieu.
Before the race, Ha did not have time to practice or prepare since she had to arrange her father’s funeral and caring for her younger sister, currently in her last year of high school. Ha managed to finish the challenging run in one hour, 41 minutes and 12 seconds.
“Throughout the marathon, I got really tired and wanted to give up many times. But when I thought of my father, I told myself to keep going. I called his name many times during my run so he could give me strength. It’s lucky I finished 20 minutes before the given time. I’m very happy,” she said.
Ha had to temporarily stop working on her graduation thesis to take care of her family, supported by her mother, friends and teacher.
“I hope I could graduate and that my sister could enter her desired university. We will try to live the way our father wanted us to.”
A little big surprise
Doan Thi Kim Cuong, 11, was one of the smallest athletes to compete in the marathon this year. This little girl stunned everyone by finishing first in the 10 kilometer distance for women in 53 minutes and 16 seconds.
“I’m really happy to take part in a big marathon like this and finish first,” Cuong said.
On the starting line, Cuong already knew she would win, although her stamina did flag.
“There were times I wanted to quit, but then I got some encouragement from a runner next to me, which gave me more motivation,” Cuong said.
Doan Thi Kim Cuong holds her medal after finishing first at the 10 km distance of VnExpress Marathon Hue on December 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.
Before taking part in VnExpress Marathon (VM) Hue, she finished first in the five kilometer distance of another marathon in Hue. To prepare for VM Hue, she practiced running 10 kilometers each day.
Running with Cuong was her elder sister Kim Tuyen, who chose the half marathon, and first encouraged Cuong to register.
“I officially became a fan of my little sister after this marathon,” Tuyen said.
Cuong’s idol is Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt. Before VM Hue, she usually read articles about Bolt to get more inspiration and confidence. The next target of the 11-year-old runner will be the 10 kilometer category of a marathon in Central Highlands Province Pleiku.
“I will definitely be the winner,” she said.
A laudable effort
At almost 80, Tran Thi Kim Loan was one of the oldest participants in VM Hue this year. She finished her run after more than an hour.
“I felt really excited because this was my first time taking part in such a crowded marathon. I have been waiting for this day to come,” Loan said.
In the first two kilometers, Loan walked, but soon switched to a wheelchair prepared by her daughter, so as not to affect other runners.
“If there were fewer runners, I would have finished the rest of my run on foot,” she said.
Tran Thi Kim Loan holds her medal after finishing the 5 km distance of VnExpress Marathon Hue on December 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Phat Dat.
After over an hour, she made it to the finish line and received a medal. For the past few years, Loan has been taking part in many five kilometer marathons to stay active.
“Everybody was very friendly and encouraged me. Some even said I gave them more energy to keep running,” Loan said.
VnExpress Marathon Hue 2020 was organized by VnExpress and Thua Thien-Hue Province People’s Committee. It was one of a series of marathons that VnExpress has organized in recent years, including ones in Hanoi and central beach town Quy Nhon, with the aim of opening a healthy practice and playground for sports lovers, especially in the marathon category.
Over 5,000 runners participated in this year’s event in Hue, passing by historic landmarks.