Dalat proves the trail boom in Vietnam


The Vietnam Mountain Marathon has been a successful trail event for a few years already, but the Dalat Ultra Trail in the south of the country proves that the sport has boomed. More than 2300 runners will take part in Dalat this weekend, and a lot of them are not afraid of tackling the 70 km long ultra, the ATM championship points race and a Grandmaster Quest distance as well. It is the first year the event has an international scope and given the exciting location -Dalat is hot on the tourist trail in Vietnam- it has all the ingredients of becoming one of Asia’s finest. 

The organisation is in the hands of a well-oiled team that has plenty of experience in outdoor and mountainbiking events. Some of the participants this weekend will actually stay in Dalat and take part in the 2-day MTB event here as well next week. The 70 km race is of course top of the bill. It's a nice highland rollercoaster that will please good runners who can cope with lots of intervals. Resilience and determination will arguably be even more important than speed to win this one. The weather in Dalat is generally cooler than elsewhere as the place is at 1500m altitude.  

One of the ambassadors of the event is Asia Trail Master champion Kim Matthews, who lives in nearby Ho Chi Minh City. Unfortunately, Matthews injured her hip quite badly before the Cordillera Mountain Ultra and is still unable to run distances, let alone race. As such, the women’s race is quite open and we are looking forward to potentially discovering new local talents. 

In the men’s race we have a clear favourite on paper: Danang’s Quang Tran. Winner of Vietnam Mountain Marathon 100 - ahead of Manolito Divina - and 2nd in Vietnam Jungle Marathon last season. In the latter race he was beaten by his compatriot and Vietnam’s Trail Master champion 2017 Cao Ngoc Ha. Cao is not running this weekend, the tall Hanoi runner is focusing on an IronMan in May before returning to the trail scene. With four races in Vietnam this ATM season, a runner like Quang Tran has a great opportunity to make a name for himself throughout Asia. 

The leadership position of Dean Perez and Majo Liao in the Asia Trail Master championship should not be under threat this weekend, unless there’s a last-minute registration of someone who already has scored a significant amount of points this season. Their points lead will certainly be under attack next week in Brunei, however.