Turn the clock back five or six years and there were very few international races held in Vietnam, but over the last three years the sports scene here has seen major development.
One of the first large scale events to take off was the Vietnam Mountain Marathon, a trail running event organised by Topas Travel in the mountains around Sapa that has rocketed from 250 entrants to almost 1,500 in just four years. Now the team behind that race has announced a new addition to the racing calendar - the Vietnam Mountain Bike Marathon.
This new three day race will take place in the mountainous region surrounding Sapa, deep in the far north west with a backdrop of the highest peaks in Indochina.
The race promises truly pioneering riding as riders will be the first ever to take on these buffalo beaten trails through rice terraces and among ethnic minority villages.
Race director Asger Koppen, who also founded the Vietnam Mountain Marathon, said: “This race was born out of my love for these mountains. I worked here for years and spent a lot of time discovering these trails, so I’m now very excited to share them with other adventurous mountain bikers.”
The race covers large parts of very remote mountains meaning competitors will get to see parts of this region that normally remain out of reach. Day one covers the remote north, home to the flower Hmong minorities; stage two heads to the southern area which is home to the Tay and Red Dao minorities; and on day three the racing concludes with a wild sprint back towards Sapa town through Hmong villages.
David Lloyd, Topas Travel’s director of Sport and long-time Hanoi resident, said: “The trails around Sapa are mind blowing. The days we spent out on the bikes creating these routes have been some of my best days ever on a bike - the riding is spectacular and the sense of getting truly remote is unbeatable.”
While the organisers are expecting to welcome some high level riders who will be gunning for podium spots, they say that for many entrants, simply completing all three tough days will be a victory in itself.
This is the first edition and no other race has ever taken place here, so riders will need to arrive with plenty of adventurous spirit!
To register for the race, visit website: www.vietnammountainbikemarathon.com