I’d like to start today’s blog with a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far. We have now raised in excess of £11000!
This is the equivalent of ensuring 550 street kids eat 3 healthy meals a day for a month. Or one street kid being able to eat for the next 42 years! With a full belly, these kids are able to engage with school and access the education they deserve for a brighter future. It could also mean a minimum of 36 women are rescued from human slavery overseas and can be reunited with their families. As the Vietnamese government is now working hard to stop human trafficking, this money will also help to prosecute the criminals behind these heinous crimes.
After waving goodbye to the runners from Quang Ngai running club at the start of the week, I was faced with two boring highway days. Sometimes there is just no other option. However, the road was surrounded by rice paddies, freshwater lakes and rolling mountains so at least I had good views to keep me distracted.
On Wednesday, I was joined by Dzung from Quang Ngai runners club. He had been unable to join us for our weekend run out of the city so instead took the morning off work, jumped on a bus down the highway and led me on one of the most beautiful runs of the route so far! The run took us from Quang Ngai Province into Binh Dinh.
After trudging up a steep hill, we entered Binh Dinh Province. Dzung explained that alongside Ben Tre (down in the Mekong Delta), Binh Dinh is a successful coconut producing province. We ran over many rivers and I noticed the physical similarities between the two regions. Many coconut trees were growing on the side of the river banks, with their fruit hanging heavily from the branches. There were also mangroves trees springing out of the water, bearing fruit that I didn’t recognise and Dzung didn’t know the English name for. (Edit- they were mangrove crabapples). After ordering 2 well needed revive drinks (full of electrolytes), during a drinks break, I was once again treated to the kindness of strangers. Instead of telling us that they only sold coffee, the young man running the cafe, jumped on his bike and returned 2 minutes later with a box of our requested drink and a bag of ice. Outstanding service!
By 11am, we had completed 24kms and Dzung treated me to a delicious lunch of pork pho and ran back to the highway to catch his bus! I hope he made it back to work on time without his boss realising where’d he been!
Thursday, was a short, hot day. Luckily, I had planned this in advance, as from the moment I stepped out to run, I knew it was not going to be fun! Again, the route was beautiful, following the coast with the crash of the waves as my soundtrack. However, I couldn’t get myself in the zone, my legs felt like lead and my mind told me to just get it over with. It could have been to do with nutrition or my mind tricking me into thinking that a short day should be easy. Eitherway, I didn’t enjoy the run and was really glad to check into my cheap hotel, knowing that I didn’t have to leave the following day. The view from my hotel was an absolute stunner, I had a word with myself and reminded myself what a privilege it is that I can experience this journey.
My rest day was spent eating. I discovered the plastic table and chairs restaurant next door to my hotel specialised in fresh prawns. Over the course of 36 hours, I think I ate around 60 prawns! Some cooked with lemon grass and chilli, others with fried rice and crunchy vegetables. As well as the prawns, I visited the same ice cream shop 4 times, much to the continued suprise of the lady who worked there.
After finishing their busy working weeks, Maria and Grant both headed to the airport to come and run with me for the weekend. When living in Saigon, I played on the same netball team as them and was excited to spend time with them off court. (Go Nguynners!)
Maria and Grant couldn’t have chosen a better weekend to come running. Every moment of our Saturday run was fantastic. The landscape changed rapidly from paddy fields to mountains to beach to desolate wasteland to small, friendly villages. Maria absolutely smashed her distance personal best and ran a whopping 30km. Her positivity, joy and perseverance was a pleasure to be part of. One of the best things about having guests running with me, are the running chats. Over the course of the day we covered a multitude of topics and got to know each other so much more than during the 3 years we played netball together. On Saturday evening, Maria hopped in a taxi and headed back to Quy Nhon to catch her flight back to Saigon.
After waving Maria off, Grant and I cracked open a beer to celebrate an awesome day and Maria’s achievements. As we looked out on the stunning mountains surrounding us, the beer flowed and before we knew it, it was midnight and way past my bedtime! After agreeing on a civilised meeting time we headed off to bed. The sore heads of this morning were quickly seen off by a huge portion of pho and a couple of cafe sua da’s. Grant is a very quick marathon runner and has done loads of ultra races, his furthest being 128km through the temples of Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It would be true to say that I was a little intimidated by this and worried I would be unable to keep up with him, with just the two of us running. As it turned out, I was utterly wrong, Grant was the perfect, inspirational buddy! The kms flew by as we chatted about fitness events that we have been part of. Grant told stories of 100km races around a 1km track, helicopter rescues off Swiss mountain ranges and his team 300km run in 30 hours in aid of Newborns Vietnam. Without even realising it, we had covered 17kms and the pace was the quickest I’ve run since starting my namrunsnam challenge.
For lunch, we were readying ourselves for the usual noodle soup but to our absolute joy of joys we spotted a fried chicken shop! We skipped in and ordered 2 very large fried chicken meals with huge sugary drinks. Full of protein, the remaining 12kms flew past at an equally speedy pace. At points, the scenery was so stunningly beautiful that it looked almost like a painting. The wind was blowing through the paddy fields making the luscious green plants sway in the breeze, the tiny river inlets were sparkling under the perfect blue sky, all under the watch of the peaceful mountain ranges surrounding us.
We finished the day after 29km to complete a weekend distance of 59km. My self belief at an all time high, I broached the subject of attempting a 42km day at some point on my run. “Why do a marathon, when you can do 50km?”, replied Grant. So watch this space!
As always, thank you so much for reading (I think it was a long one this week!)
This week’s blog is dedicated to the memory of my bright pink trainers. They helped me to cover 1182km of this insanely wonderful journey.
On a more serious note, please re-read paragraph two of this blog to see how you can help change the lives of women and children in this wonderful, but sometimes unfair, country. My target is £15000 and we are getting closer to reaching it every week. Please consider donating as little or as much as you can afford.
Thank you again
Love Naomi (aka Nam)