Destination Central Vietnam, by Doug Murdoch

11226081_1060325203991763_8806700421101960724_o copy copyGoing to a foreign country for a destination race can be fun, but you need to make sure there are plenty of things to do besides just running at your location if you want to have a good time.

DaNang is located right in the center of Vietnam, with the ancient citadel of Hue and Bach Na National park to the north,  and the Japanese / French city of Hoi An to the south, along with My Son, which is a sacred place from the Cham culture dating 400-1400 AD.

Laguna Lang, which is a resort area north of Da Nang, offered a marathon / half this year, so I decided to run the half marathon and then explore the surrounding area. I spent about a week and a half in the area, but I could have easily spent two weeks since there was so much to do.

CentralVietnamDHM2015_003 copyIt was a small race with about two hundred people total – 80 in the marathon and 120 in the half marathon.  It was well organized and enjoyable, with almost all of it on even paved roads with no traffic and plenty of aid stations. It was out in the countryside but all the streets were still blocked off to traffic.

CentralVietnamDHM2015_004 copyAfter the race, I travelled about an hour north to Hue, the ancient city and capital of Vietnam.  The ancient citadel still has a wall and a moat that goes all the way around it. I ran the internal perimeter for fun and it’s about 5 miles. I also took a boating trip, went to ancient tombs, and ate some river snake (which did not taste like chicken). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huế

Here’s an example of a typical training run I did there: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/939307839

CentralVietnamDHM2015_005 copyAfter exploring Hue, I hired a driver to take me to the top of Bach Ma National Park, which is about five thousand feet, and spent the day hiking.  It’s interesting to be near the beach and then immediately go up to five thousand feet, in a completely different environment.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bạch_Mã_National_Park

That same day my driver dropped me off in Hoi An, a beautiful little city south of Da Nang with both Japanese and French influences. One of the most famous attractions there is a traditional and authentic Japanese covered bridge.  The cost for an all day driver/ tourist guide in a private car was eighty dollars, and one way was about one hundred miles. I could have done it for less than ten dollars on a bus but then I would not have been able to go hiking. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hội_An

CentralVietnamDHM2015_006 copyEven though I did the typical tourist stuff,  I ran every day from 6 -10 miles which is always an eye opening experience. The main photo for this article, seen to the right,  is from one of the small islands that I ran to and around in Hoi An. This is my actual run in Hoi An where I took the photo: https://connect.garmin.com/activity/941822555

CentralVietnamDHM2015_010 copy 2I also went to My Son, which about two hours by bus to the south. My Son is a collection of Hindu temples that were built between 400 – 1400 AD. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mỹ_Sơn

This is a good reference for what you can do in the area: http://www.danangexperience.com/wheretogo.html

If you want to stay at a beach resort before and after your race, the race that I ran in is quite good but in a remote beach area: http://lagunalangcomarathon.com/home/

CentralVietnamDHM2015_013 copyAnother popular one, which I might do next time, is called the Da Nang Marathon (and half, 10K, etc).  It is in Da Nang, which is still on the beach, but the hotel prices are much cheaper and there is more to do.  It is a much larger and international event. http://www.rundanang.com

Although it’s not in Central Vietnam, perhaps the most adventurous race in Vietnam is the Sapa Mountain running series, in north Vietnam. It’s on my bucket list. http://vietnammountainmarathon.com

I’ve spent a lot of time in Vietnam so if you have any questions about traveling and running in Vietnam, feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

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