Da Nang International Marathon 2014

Ran my very first run in Vietnam over the weekend at the Da Nang International Marathon 2014 in the city of Da Nang. I wasn't sure what to expect as it was my first visit to Da Nang but after this run, I am certain I will want to return next year to run again and will definitely opt for the Full Marathon.

Its pretty much a flat route all the way except for 2 elevations on Tran Thi Ly Bridge and Thuan Phuoc Bridge. There is a negligible elevation after Thuan Phuoc Bridge but its so mild that one wouldn't even feel it much unless you stopped for a picture of the very scenic view around you.

For those who opted for the Full Marathon, it was basically a repeat of the 21km route. While one might say its mentally challenging that way, I seek to differ because the route will feel different by the time the sun rises. The city of Da Nang is a rather busy city of its own and the hustle and bustle of the folks will be a nice experience and also distraction for folks who actually get bored half way during runs. 

The run flagged off at 4am for the half and full marathon. The fun walk / run were flagged off at 715am. In my case, we were led through a nice warm up session to prep us all. Since there was approximately 400 of us for these 2 categories, its easy to make new friends while warming up too.
The over all temperature was about 25C and in my case the rain the night before certainly helped quite a bit in an otherwise warm season. And when thing did get a tad warm approximately at KM17 which was beside the beach and almost shadeless, the water stations that were set up every 2km definitely helped. Nice chilled bottles of mineral water (caps were opened for us!) were ready and the volunteers were ever so enthusiastic to hand them out to passing runner. Isotonic drinks were also available in paper cups, poured at just the right level making it easy for runners to grab and drink on the go. There were also plenty of bananas made available right before we started our race, at a couple of water stations and definitely plenty to eat as well when finished our run.
Pham Van Dong Park - Vo Nguyen Giap Street - Truong Sa Street - Nguyen Van Thoai Street -  Tran Thi Ly Bridge - 2/9 Street - Bach Dang Street - 3/2 Street - Thuan Phuoc Bridge - Le Duc Tho Street - Hoang Sa Street - Pham Van Dong Park - Finish.

The run conditions were perfect that even though I was nursing a diarrhea as a result of my food allergy (I am allergic to papain and had totally forgotten that in some countries like Vietnam, papaya juice is used to marinade meat and had a gala time chowing down an awesome Surf & Turf dinner on Friday night), running was definitely possible. Took 2 pit stops at the hotels along the route - Holiday Beach and Novotel. Thankfully the tummy held on till I finished my run. The tummy cramps came along again after the 12km point of which I walked it off and resumed running when the discomfort tapered off. Not my best Half Marathon timing at 2:28:35 but it has been definitely a good one. 

There were times that I wanted to quit when the tummy ached but heck how could one give up when every volunteer and marshall that you run pass will urged you on? Language barrier aside, they flashed big smiles at 5am when its still dark. The younger ones would always say "Fighting" and pumped their fist! So yes...I ran on...

The locals are a bunch of healthy and active folks. Its nice to see folks exercising outside their homes, at the roundabout or even on the bridge. Most of them actually stopped half way through their exercises and clap to cheer the runners on. And for some of us, the locals actually ran a few metres to cheer us on when we were on Thuan Phuoc Bridge.

Its a flat and fast route making it perfect for personal best timings. And if you hate flat routes like I do, the scenery and view that you run pass during the race is very refreshing. It starts of in the dark with the sea on your left. As you progress the skies light up and you will see people coming out to begin their journey to the market or to open up shops. Between KM7 to KM11 will be the newer part of the city with buildings on your left and the river on your right. 

KM12 to KM16 brings you through the smaller buildings, fishing boats and at Thuan Phuoc Bridge, you can get a bird's eye view of Da Nang. Very scenic at 5:26 am or so when I snapped the following picture. I can imagine that its another pretty sight when the skies are bright and sunny when I run the Full Marathon next year.

Beginning KM17 till the end, you will have the beach on your left, Its a pretty beach and the locals will be there for their exercises, swim or just there to watch us run pass them. They cheer real loud too and will be flashing you million dong smiles. Smile back. Wave back. Its totally fun. In my case I ran with a mini Malaysian flag as it was our National Day then when I ran in Da Nang. At a few points, the locals actually recognised our flag and cheered "MALAYSIA". 

As I approached the finish line, its definitely the best and most memorable finish ever. I heard my bib being read out 2218. And as I crossed the finish line, my name was read out 2218 Evelyn Ang Loo from Malaysia. Seriously good experience and moment! Definitely a proud moment to hear my country being mentioned.

There was quite a few Malaysians who ran at this Da Nang International Marathon. Another person who ran with the flag was Aliya. Its always nice to meet another fellow Malaysian at an overseas run. Am certainly looking forward to running with Aliya and Gopal next year again in Da Nang.

All Half and Full Marathon runners are entitled to a finisher medal and tshirt. Again, plenty of water, bananas and even banh for us to refuel. Loved the iced water tubs that a few runners camped in to ease their muscles after the run. And its also a nice finish when I crossed the finish line and there were volunteers on who would rush over to every runner to spray Salonpas on our legs. 

For those who were making their way into their second loop for the Full Marathon, both the emcee and the crowd were standing on the side of the road to cheer them on. And similarly to us finishing our half marathon, these full marathoners also had their names and country read out. A nice awesome motivation too!

For all that fun reason to not return to Da Nang next year to run in the Da Nang International Marathon 2015. The course is IAAF-AIMS certified to international standards with official timing record and this year this race is also a recognised 2015 Boston Marathon qualifier...such is the standards of Da Nang International Marathon. 

And Malaysians who are planning your Da Nang International Marathon 2015, AirAsia flies to Da Nang directly from Kuala Lumpur 4x a week. Flights are on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Its a mere 2:55 flight without the need to transit at Ho Chi Minh which could actually turn out to be almost a 12 hour journey including transit!

For more information on Da Nang International Marathon 2015:

Full set of pictures in Da Nang International Marathon 2014. Do also head on to the following channels for more updates and to show some love too:

Starfish mode after completing another run on another Sunday but in Vietnam for a nice change.