Despite the challenges posed this year, we were fortunate to organise one great race, push ahead with many charity projects, and develop our events. The running community has also been full of incredible feats. Here we look back on some of the highlights of 2021.
VTM was the highlight of the year for many runners, not only because it was a magical race, but because it was one of the very few races to actually take place in 2021!
For us at Topas, this race meant an immense amount. Back in January we had to call off the race just a day before race pack collection – an experience that was very hard for all the crew, as well as the runners.
Remembering the race finally taking place in April, Race Director David Lloyd recalls: “The 70k was without doubt the most emotional race start we’ve had to date. After facing the last minute cancellation back in January, the sense of relief among all the crew when the runners started at 4am was incredible.”
The race itself was a beautiful occasion, if a little hotter than some would have liked.
The biggest highlight for many was two Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation runners taking first and second spots in the 5k – you can read more about that here.
Topas Charity Projects
At Topas we have two charitable streams: we both give to established national charities and we also carry out projects directly in Sapa, where we have been working since the 90s.
This year we conducted a number of projects in the Sapa area, including the building of two new school facilities, one in Nam Lang B Village and another in Pho Village.
Alongside these projects we completed a new bridge near Nam Cang making a dangerous water crossing safe for runners and locals alike.
We have also recently contributed to building concrete floors for houses near the Topas Ecolodge which had up to now had dirt floors.
Other fundraisers by Topas staff have included members of the team getting active to raise money themselves for Blue Dragon and also a bake sale organised by Topas Ecolodge GM Christian and his wife Rainy to raise funds for a nearby boarding school.
Charity Partner Work
Throughout 2021 our partners Operation Smile, Hue Help, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation and Newborns Vietnam have carried out more great work using funds donated from Topas.
These projects include Newborns Vietnam’s new programme in Son La Province, Hue Help’s continuing Water Safety Program in Thanh Hoa and Operation Smile’s fundraising for 37 children’s surgeries at VTM 2021.
Blue Dragon’s work rescuing victims of human trafficking and working with children in crisis within Vietnam has continued throughout the pandemic – one of their many great accomplishments was a rescue flight which brought 49 women home from Myanmar – read about that here.
Every year we are deeply impressed by the feats of runners outside of races. This year, however, a lot of runners have taken extreme challenges to the next level.
Some of the stand out achievements in 2021 have been Tra My’s 100 miles in Soc Son, Trung Nguyen’s 160km+ on treadmill and Vi’s first ultra, running 72k on a treadmill for Blue Dragon.
Despite the lack of races taking place, we have continued to develop our race offerings throughout 2021.
We set up an all new race: VMM Nam Cang edition. While we were not able to make it happen due to covid, we have everything ready for an incredible new runner experience when the situation allows.
We have also been making improvements to the original VMM, with lots more new trail added for the first 30k of the 100km route. We’ve also been researching some updates for the 42k. And of course the all new 100mile route was further developed and is now ready to roll when covid lets it!
We have also been planning a new race, but you will have to wait for more details on that…
Running camps and camping
We have also added trail running camps / holidays to our offerings this year. Runners can either choose one of our existing trail camp itineraries or get in touch with us to create something bespoke for a club or group of friends.
To make these more special, we can now add wild camping for the first time. This gives runners the chance to camp out on the mountain and enjoy an evening fire – perfect for gathering around at the end of a day’s running!