Wow, another absolute belter of a week! Running friends, fancy hotels, free hotels, birthday, free drinks, free breakfasts, my first marathon and loads of generous donations…
I was fortunate enough to have Mikey for company for most of this week. Leaving stunning Vung Ro Bay behind us, we faced two days of highway hell. Running on the highway is never a nice experience but it is sometimes the only option. It was much better with a friend, we chatted for endless hours and competed against each other to ‘guess the namrunsnam playlist song’.
The highlight of our highway days were these baby ducks!
At the end of a second long highway day, we arrived in Ninh Hoa. Kelly (who is cycling around the world), had recommended a homestay just outside the town. We were welcomed by Khiem, who runs the nha nghi and has brilliant English. I told him that Kelly had recommended his place and he promptly insisted we have our 2 rooms free of charge, in lieu of a charity donation. The kindness of strangers continues.
The following day was my birthday! We had an awesome breakfast of Cocopops and strong coffee and headed off into the mountains. We planned to run 21kms to a small fishing village where we would find a local bar to celebrate my 36 year. The fishing village was beautiful but lacked the nha nghi we hoped for. We ordered some fried rice and grilled pork and hatched a new plan. We would run 10 additional kms up and over a mountain pass that would take us into the outskirts of Nha Trang. It was the best idea we’d had all week! The pass was absolutely incredible! As the sun beamed down on us, we made our way up and up around winding roads. Each turn treating us to another stunner of a view. At the highest point was a drinks stop with an outstanding location.
After the tough accent, the decent back down the mountain was delightful. I felt like I was running on air. 2km from our stopping point was a super fancy 5 star resort that Mikey had secretly found on the map earlier that day. We ran in, hot and sweaty and were greeted with confused stares. I was treated to a couple of delicious cocktails overlooking the sea, the mountains and islands of Nha Trang Bay. As the light faded we jogged, slightly wobbly, into the outskirts of Nha Trang.
The birthday delights didn’t end there. Our cheap hotel was a few 100 meters up the road from a scuba dive bar. So we spent the rest of the evening drinking cocktails on the house (after explaining it was my birthday and that I was running from Hanoi to HCMC), singing along to cheesy songs and eating an obscene amount of pizza. Mikey also suprised me with a chocopie birthday cake! When running further north, I often had to eat these for dinner as I couldnt find anything else.
The following morning was Mikey’s last day on the road and we had a comfy 8km run along the seafront into central Nha Trang. Just before we reached our hotel, Mikey suggested ‘Last Km, Fast Km’, so we ended our time together with my quickest km of the run so far. I was once again treated to an absolutely stunning hotel on the beachfront, courtesy of Mikey’s hotel points.
The Sheraton Nha Trang, is a beautiful hotel. The colour of the infinity pool matched the perfect ocean. Our spacious twin room gave us a perfect view along the beach front, down the busy Nha Trang promenade.
After introducing myself and my challenge, we were offered complimentary breakfast and some free drinks on the glamorous rooftop bar. Thank you to the Sheraton for a luxurious stay.
As Mikey prepared for his final night, we welcomed Nick to the run! Nick is a running friend from Saigon and we have completed many races together in Vietnam. I was super excited for him to experience life on the road with me. We fueled ourselves with pizza, as is our tradition before any race. Mikey attempted to fill us with beer and wine as Nick and I had discussed attempting a 40km day, which would beat Mikey’s record of 38km.
We waved goodbye to Mikey and set off along the Nha Trang seafront. We had decided that if we were going to run 40km, we might as well attempt a marathon at 42.2km. Neither of us had run this distance before. The weather was overcast and there was a cooling sea breeze. My legs felt strong after a rest day and the first 10kms flew past in a flurry of catch up conversations and running stories.
At kilometre 20, after a brutal uphill mountain climb we spotted the Mia Resort and shuffled our way inside. We were met by a smiling security guard who excitedly explained that he had driven past us on his way to work. After some high fives, he showed us the way to the stunning bar area that looked down over the dramatic cliffs into the bay.
After a sugar hit of soft drinks, we hit the road again and ran comfortably down the other side of the winding mountain pass towards Cam Ranh Airport. We had soon reached the 30km mark and I was feeling strong, as though I could keep running (slowly) forever. This was Nick’s furthest run to date and he was beginning to feel the distance. However, he assured me that he wanted to push onwards to reach our marathon goal. At 33km, we heard the shout of a loud, American accent and a flash of stars and stripes sunglasses… it was Mikey! He was on his way to the airport and had been looking out for us. He handed over ice cold bottles of fizzy drinks and water and jumped back into his air-conditioned taxi. What a lovely, thoughtful surprise! Nick who was attempting to stick plasters on his chaffing nipples was delighted!
After 41.5kms we reached our hotel for the evening. But we ran straight past, there was no way we were not going to reach our marathon target now! We ended our day at 42.36km, running up the hotel steps, like a slow motion scene from rocky. High fives and hugs, we had made it! Technically unltrarunners now!
We celebrated with a huge pile of fried rice, pork ribs, beef stew, beer and haribo! We were both elated with our achievement and I am so happy to have completed my first marathon with Nick. He showed amazing mental strength and kept me laughing the entire journey. We spent the rest of the evening discussing various aches and pains and which races we are going to sign up to next!
Today’s run was a chilled 12km into Cam Ranh town. My hotel is next door to a massage spa, so we dumped our bags, showered and treated ourselves to an excellent 90minute, full body massage. What a way to end an incredible week!
I’ve just waved Nick off in a taxi and am buzzing from this week’s adventures and achievements. I can feel a huge difference with my endurance, stamina and fitness and am already considering when I am going to attempt my first 50km run.
A huge thank you to both Mikey and Nick for being outstanding running partners and wonderful, kind, generous friends.
Thank you for reading. My fundraising total has now reached an incredible £14265 of my £15000 target! Thank you for all the birthday donations and the incredible total raised by my parent’s quiz.
Love Naomi (aka Nam)