“We picked Dalat because of it’s cooler temperatures, great terrain and proximity to Ho Chi Minh City,” says Bob Lofgran, one of the organisers of the Vietnam Victory Challenge.
A three-day mountain biking and running event that will be held in the Central Highlands from Mar. 11 to Mar. 13, the Vietnam Victory Challenge has a range of difficulty levels appropriate for beginner to advanced riders. The route also has feed stations along the way, and a lunch after each day’s race. Says Bob, the key problem that entrants have to overcome is “elevation gain”. It is this that is likely to attract competitors from all over Vietnam and Southeast Asia — this year he is expecting 200 people to take part.
He adds: “For anyone that’s been to Dalat, they will know there’s hardly a flat piece of ground in this area. We’ve taken a lot of time to carefully plan each racecourse to make sure that the difficultly level is appropriate for most every racer. With the proper amount of preparation, even relative beginners can conquer the challenge.”
Inaugurated in 2015, whereas last year the Vietnam Victory Challenge was focused on mountain biking, the addition of a trail run should get people involved in the challenge who are not into cycling.
“Members of the running community in Ho Chi Minh City contacted me and asked that we put together a solid trail run event for them,” says Bob. “From there it took shape to become a 50km ultramarathon with a 21km half marathon and a 10km race. There’s already some trash-talking going on between runners in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City about who will come out on top.”
However, it’s the cycling element that has both Bob and a number of the participants excited.
“For the Vietnamese bike racers the thing that makes our event stand out is that it’s the first and only international open mountain bike stage race in Vietnam,” he explains. “It’s licensed with the Vietnamese Cycling Federation. That’s a really big deal to them. It’s really exciting for the local riders to line up with international pro and amateur riders. I’ve never seen cyclists anywhere in the world as enthusiastic and pumped to be racing as they were at our inaugural event.”
Entry for mountain bike event is US$215 per person, while the three grueling trail runs, which will be held on Mar. 19, cost US$85 for the 50km run, US$55 for the 21km, run, and US$25 for the 10km run (with a discount of US$10 for locals and kids who entrer the 10km jamboree.) For more information, click on vietnamvictorychallenge.com