Whether you’re a seasoned marathoner or a novice, Vietnam offers a surprisingly large number of races from quick 5 km races to ultra marathons.
In this article, we will walk you through discovering races, the application process, as well as invaluable tips for a triumphant race day.
Where to Discover Races
The first thing you need to do is to find the races! This is a relatively easy process and can all be done online.
Online sites – The best site is https://www.ahotu.com/calendar/vietnam – which is an incredibly detailed website which provides a wealth of information on upcoming races, including registration details and course routes. Simply follow the links to the race that you are interested in and take it from there.
Local Running Clubs – You will find that there is a Hash Harriers group in all major towns/cities. This is a group who go out each week (at the weekend) – you can either walk or run and then there is a trip to the local bar at the end! Although some of the people in the Hash Harriers are there just to get out of the city / to meet other people, you will find some more dedicated runners there who will be an excellent source for staying informed about upcoming events. Some of the larger groups may also participate in or organize races themselves.
Social Media – Platforms like Facebook and Instagram host various running groups and event pages. Search for groups like “Hanoi Running Events” or “Ho Chi Minh Runners” to tap into the community spirit and stay updated on the latest races.
After you have found your race, then the next thing is to register. You will find that there is typically a registration fee to enter the race, with this usually being linked to the distance – so, for example, your race has a 5 Kilometre race, a 10-kilometer race, and a 21 Kilometre race then the 5 Kilometres race maybe 400,000 VND, the 10 kilometer 500,000 and the 21 kilometers 750,000 VND.
Registration is very straightforward – you simply fill in your details (including your passport number) and give your racing shirt size. Be warned – sizes in Vietnam are typically very small when compared to Western sizes, so you will probably need a large size at the very least and if you are a typical Western size, then you are probably looking for an XL or larger! If you are unsure, simply go for the largest size available – it is better to be a little large than too small!
Usually included with your application fee you will receive a “ race pack “ – this consists of a bag containing at least a running shirt and your number (with other races which are sponsored by companies often containing some nice freebies!) Although some places enable you to go and pick up your race pack on the day, many require you to go and officially register in person and collect your race bag prior to the race – so check these details so that you have sufficient time to do all this!
Once you have registered you will receive an online confirmation which typically gives you more information about what you need to bring with you on the race day/information about baggage storage/times and the exact routine.
You need to go and pick up your race pack prior to the race day
Pearls of Wisdom for a Victorious Race Day
It is important to make sure that you know exactly where the start is and what time to arrive – it is important to arrive well in time in case there is an additional check in.
Many of the races will have toilets (although be prepared for a long wait – if the location is central then it may be better to pop to a local café instead!) and often will have a place to put your bags (although do not take valuables)
It is very important that you place your race number prominently and that it is not folded or wrinkled. This is because you will find a small strip at the back which contains the chip – which is used at the start of the race and points en route (to make sure that you have not taken a shortcut!) as well as at the end. You will find that typically the race organisers will have given you four safety pins to attach your number when you collected the race pack and will have additional safety pins on the race day for those people whose number has started to detach.
You will be informed when there are about ten minutes or so to the start of the race – and even if it is in Vietnamese you will work it out as everyone will move in one large surge towards the start line! Do not worry if you are not at the front of the crowd – your number will have the chip in it and it will not be activated until you pass over the start line!
On the route, you will find that there will most probably be official photographers. This means that after the race you are able to get your photographs free by simply downloading them. Your race organisers will send the link straight after the race and you can browse all the photographs (there will be hundreds if not thousands) or you can search for photographs of yourself by putting in your race number.
Although there will be water stations along the race route, you may also like to take your own water bottle as Vietnam can be very hot and you do not want to get dehydrated!
Overall, racing in Vietnam is a regular occurrence and it is relatively easy to sign up and run – whether a novice or an expert! It is a fun experience (even if you only walk fast!) and a unique way to spend a weekend – so dust off your running shoes, look for the next available run and get moving!