VHM 2019 Aim for Global Scale Event

By Ho Binh Minh

HANOI, Oct 17 (DHA) - The VPBank Hanoi Marathon 2019 (VHM) has become Hanoi's latest bid to make it to the world's map of sporting events, with organizers aiming to stand among the world's major marathons after having secured certification from key professional bodies. 

"Hanoi leaders have long been hoping to build a professional marathon which lives up to the name of the capital, not only for promoting sport activities of the city residents, but also regard it as an innovative way to promulgate Hanoi as the city for peace to the world," To Van Dong, director of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports told a news conference on Wednesday.

"VPBank Hanoi Marathon has been able to do that, with a remarkable growth," Dong told reporters after they came aboard a double-deck bus re-decorated with posters to promote the race due on October 20. He said the VHM aims to attract some 10,000 runners in 2020, of whom the number of foreign participants would double from this year to 3,000.

VPBank Hanoi Marathon Organizers Aim for Global Scale Event

Director To Van Dong of the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports speaks to reporters aboard a double-deck bus re-decorated with posters to promote the VPBank Hanoi Marathon 2019 due on October 20. The Race Organizing Committee (ROC) expects to welcome 10,000 runners in the next race in 2020, up from 7,000 this year. Photo by VHM ROC.

 

In recent years marathons organized in Vietnam’s biggest cities often attract thousands of runners as jogging is popular in the Southeast Asian country of 95 million. The sport and tourism authorities have been trying to combine these activities to attract more foreign visitors and improve performance for Vietnamese athletes.

On Sunday some 7,000 athletes, including 1,500 foreign runners, will compete in four categories, including the 42-km full marathon and the 21-km half marathon on VHM courses. The courses link the city's famous Old Quarter with key destinations such as the Opera House, the Cathedral, Hoan Kiem Lake, Ba Dinh Square, West Lake and Long Bien Bridge over the Red River.

The total number of athletes registered for VHM this year has more than doubled from October 2018, when the race, first known as The Hanoi International Heritage Marathon, hit Hanoi streets.

 

CONTACT GLOBAL MARATHON INSTITUTIONS

In order to make such an expansion happen, VHM's Race Organizing Committee (ROC) has been adopting various approaches at home and abroad to ensure all the professional matters and necessary support are in place.

DHA Vietnam, a ROC executive member, has registered to join the Association of International Marathons and the Distance Races (AIMS), a professional agency of more than 470 race organizations located in over 130 countries and territories, and requested an official measurement of VHM's 42-km running course.

AIMS said it works in partnership with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the two have adopted the calibrated bicycle method as the only approved method for measuring road races. The process can only be conducted by an accredited AIMS/IAAF measurer.

In May 2019 an AIMS/IAAF Grade A measurer came to Hanoi to complete the work. The certification of VHM course has been registered in July, and in September VHM's AIMS/IAAF membership was granted. It means runners can now use VHM results to qualify for Boston Marathon, one of the world's six major races.

Having secured the prestige, last month VHM organizers picked the venues of Berlin Marathon, another race among the world's six biggest, to promote the Hanoi race and the Halong Bay International Marathon in 2020. DHA is also a member of the organizing board for the Halong Bay race.

 

DOMESTIC COORDINATION

At home, VHM ROC has won all-round support, partly because it has broadened its membership to include key partners, namely the Dai Bieu Nhan Dan (People's Representative) newspaper, the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports, the Vietnam Athletes Federation and VPBank.

The ROC has been working closely with the Vietnam Athletes Federation (VAF) on the rules and regulations for the race and other professional matters. VHM organizers said the race has now become one of the two marathons in Vietnam that belong to VAF's official competition system.

Besides, VHM has signed cooperation contracts with foreign consultants and professional partners, among which Xtep International Holdings Limited, China's biggest marathon sponsor, has helped organize two training camps, having brought in Chinese coaches to give Vietnamese runners essential skills before VHM starts.

Xtep will provide three marathon suits made from specially-designed polyester material to VHM runners, and would establish running clubs in Vietnam next year as it looks to widen cooperation opportunities in Vietnam, Dao Thi Thu Huong, Xtep Vietnam deputy director, told reporters.

VPBank Hanoi Marathon Organizers Aim for Global Scale Event

Deputy Director Dao Thi Thu Huong of Xtep Vietnam makes a remark during a press tour ahead of the VPBank Hanoi Marathon 2019 (VHM) due on October 20. Xtep, China's biggest marathon sponsor, will provide three marathon suits made from specially-designed polyester material to some 7,000 VHM runners joining the weekend race. Photo by VHM ROC.

 

The ROC has also secured support from the Hanoi People's Committee, the city government which has assigned the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports to take the leading role in coordinating various city agencies to organize the marathon.

Apart from working with Hanoi police and departments of transport, health, construction as well as the authorities of the six districts where the race courses run through to ensure safety for runners, the ROC has also sought help and support for the race day from the residents living in the course neighborhood.

While VHM organizers' ambition is to make the race one of the world's major marathons, the municipal authority attaches more specific duties.

"We expect the VHM to rise beyond the framework of a sporting event to become an international cultural and sport event, an activity for promoting Vietnam as a country as well as the Vietnamese people," Dong of the city's culture and sport department said. "As the race is becoming an annual marathon, it has international importance and carries Hanoi's symbolic feature."

VPBank Hanoi Marathon Organizers Aim for Global Scale Event

Vietnamese athletes wear the marathon suits sponsored by Xtep International Holdings Limited in front of O Quan Chuong, one of Hanoi Old Quarter's landmarks. Xtep, China's biggest marathon sponsor, will provide three sets of sportswear made from specially-designed polyester material to some 7,000 runners joining the VPBank Hanoi Marathon on October 20. Photo by VHM ROC.

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