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Q&A: Nho Hoai – Vietnam Trail Marathon 70KM Ultra Champion

VTM 2022 winner Nho Hoai changed her life through running, going from a stressed, quiet person, to an ultra runner full of life and enthusiasm. Read on to learn about her running journey, how she prepares for races, her motivations and much more. 

nho hoai 70km female champion

1. When did you first get into running and why? 

I was working as a nurse with a heavy workload and increasing working hours. It made my spirit feel lower and I had a lack of energy. I stopped communicating with people well and lived a quiet life. I didn’t feel happy at work anymore.

My health got worse. I kept getting sick and then I suddenly realised I should do something to refresh my life and become better, more positive and happier. 

So I decided to spend 1 – 1.5 hours a day to do exercise, learn how to think more positively and laugh more. I am an independent person, so I decided to choose running as I could easily do it myself. 

I searched for information and knowledge on the internet and joined running clubs on Facebook to find exercise partners and also to learn from everyone else. 

With this knowledge and comfortable workout clothes, I began my journey. I was running 8 – 10km per day, running slowly to improve my stamina and adapt my legs before starting to run faster and increasing my running distance.


2. You shared at the finish line of VTM2022 that this was your first VTS trail race. What was your experience of trail running before joining VTM?

This is my first time participating in a race in Vietnam Trail Series, but it’s not my first time competing officially in 70km, so I was very confident that I could finish this race with a comfortable mindset and on time.

There’s some tactics that I always apply in competition: listening to my body, running slow and steady, taking nutrients, water, ionized water often, resting when tired, or running and walking slowly, but I try not to stop and rest in one place.


vietnam trail marathon - champion 70km female

3. What did you think of VTM 2022 in Moc Chau?

My eyes are not good at seeing far, so the race  marking during the route is very important and can affect my performance. I have to say the Topas Vietnam Trail Series crew did race marking extremely well.

The crew at checkpoints were also very professional, and have experience with runners. They know what runners need at the checkpoints, so they helped me to save time and lifted my spirits when I arrived. 

Moc Chau has a pure atmosphere, green and vast landscapes. When I run alone in the high mountains, I feel there is no boundary between nature and me and I find peace and freedom in my soul. Sometimes I spread my arms out, look up to the sky and yell “freedom”! 

Moreover, the lovely encouragement from the locals, especially the ethnic minority children, helped me to keep the energy and spirits up during the race. I want to say “Thank you so much” to everyone.


4. Were you surprised about your achievement winning VTM 2022?

Before the raceday. I didn’t spend a lot of time training with a strict plan, so getting a place on the podium was not in my mind.

I came to trail running and do it today simply because I love it. So what I aim for is conquering distances, training my willpower, gaining experience and making new friends.

However, at VTM 2022, when I knew I was in first place, I remembered about the times I practiced and participated in races with this distance, about the training process, about the difficulties and challenges I experienced. At the same time, I was listening more deeply to my own body than ever before, and I felt that I could do better than I did before if I tried to not stop so much .

I kept running, running and running in love and enjoying everything that was going on around me. 


I finished in first place with joy, happiness and pride that I tried my best to get that result on race day.


5. What is the next Topas Vietnam Trail Series race that you will choose and why? 

I think it will be Vietnam Jungle Marathon, because everyone said VJM route is so beautiful, but really tough when you run under very hot weather. I am very excited about this race, wanting to discover the beauty in Pu Luong by myself with the longest distance of 70km.


6. At VTM2022, you raced wearing the shirt of Newborns Vietnam – why did you choose to run for this charity? 

I think my decision comes first because of the love between people. Any life is worthy of our respect and love. Especially with newborn babies, they are like new shoots: immature, innocent and lovely. Their families are eager to welcome them to this world in the healthiest way.

Every step I run feels more meaningful than ever when I contribute a part of my efforts to raising funds to support newborn children through Newborns Vietnam.


7. When training for an ultra race like Vietnam Trail Marathon 70k, what is a typical week of training for you?  

In addition to running, I do exercises for cardio, endurance and muscle strength in other sports such as crossfit, triathlon, climbing stairs and football.

This variety of training helps me stay physically and mentally stronger in competition.


8. Besides the fitness benefits of running, what else does it bring to your life?

On every step of running I find a better version of myself every day, peace of  mind and strength and courage in my mind to overcome challenges in a wild natural environment. 

Besides, it brings a connection with people who share the same interests, passions, learning and mutual support in all aspects of practice and life. I think I’m very lucky to have realised this. I feel very grateful and appreciative of these wonderful “relatives”.


Want to read more trail running and ultra race interviews with our Vietnam Trail Series champions and competitors? Check out our interview archive here