Born and living in Phu Tho province, North Vietnam, 34 year old Nguyen Tien Hung started running just two years ago but is already one of the best amateur runners in Vietnam. Here he talks about his training, his dreams, winning VMM100, beer and more.
1. Congratulations again on becoming a VMM champ this year! How did it feel to become the second Vietnamese to win 100km at VMM?
I felt really happy to be the second Vietnamese to win VMM 100km. I have fulfilled my dream of flying the yellow star flag at the Topas Ecolodge finish line on a sunny afternoon. I first had this dream two years ago when I was new to running and first heard about VMM.
2. You were a late entrant to the race and normally you run shorter road events. How did you prepare to run the 100k in such a short time? And what was your longest run before the VMM 100km?
I registered to join VMM2018 quite late because I could not manage to arrange my time in the running race season with a series of marathons ahead. But I think my reason to finally decide to run VMM 100km again will make everyone smile: I wanted to experience the emotional feeling I saw back in 2016 when on the Friday evening runners and supporters came to say ‘good luck’ to the VMM 2016 100km runners.
In terms of my longest run pre VMM100 it was one month before the race at LUT in which I did five loops for a total of 63 km in 12 hours.
3. You started very fast off the line and you set a new Strava CR on the first 30k. You did manage to maintain a fast pace, but were you ever worried that you had started too fast?
I always start a race with a fast pace if possible. I do not think of setting records, I just want listen to my body and enjoy feeling inspired by the run.
4. What was your highlight of the race? And the worst or hardest part?
The best part of VMM2018 was the sunny autumn weather and the hardest was the heat and the long climb from CP5 to CP6.
5. What inspired you to get into running?
I came to running because I wanted to have a strong, healthy and active body. I had played football for many years, but I had to stop because of injury. After recovering, i could not control my weight and then I fell in love with running.
6. We know you like a beer at the end (and sometimes during!) of a run. We also heard you ran from Phu Tho to Ha Noi (around 100km), just for a beer. Is it true?
If we drink beers in an effective way for our body, I don’t think it can harm us. I sometimes drink beer with friends after the race or at a party, just to refresh and feel the coolness that a cold beer brings.
In my daily training, I don’t drink beer because it is quite expensive! VMM this year was very hot. This is the reason why I drank beer at some checkpoints; however along the course, I always used nutrition products of Hammer which provides the nutrition necessary for VMM.
Actually, the long run from Phu Tho to Hanoi was just a promise to a running friend, not exactly for a beer. It was also a long run in my training. On this occasion, I would like to send a big thanks to my friend who not only cares about my races, but also my training.
7. You just joined the Vietnamese running team at the China-Asian International Marathon and achieved first Asian and sixth overall. Are you now thinking of turning pro? Does your family support your running?
My family and friends always support and stand by me. In terms of professionalism, I think everyone including me is aiming for that but I also wait for an appropriate chance. Thus, although I am an amateur runner, I am still trying to do at my best and wish to continue discoverings my challenging my limits.
8. What is your dream race?
I came to running two years ago and from the first days I was fascinated by Boston Marathon. I also wish to run UTMB, the pinnacle of trail running.
I will try my best to train everyday until I can fulfill my dream, maybe in 2020.
9. Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is doing their first ultra distance race?
Preparation and listening to your body are key for all runners, not only for running 100km but even 5km; if we do not have good preparation and training, we can get injured anytime.
No one can avoid injury 100%, but training, good preparation and gradual progress can help us to have confidence when racing. More importantly, you should remember to prepare for your mental game.
Finally, I would like to send all my best wishes to my running friends: be strong and tough and enjoy all the routes you run.