Female athlete becomes first Vietnamese to win the 'world's toughest' triathlon

·2 min read

A female athlete has become the first Vietnamese competitor to win the Deca Ultra Triathlon World Championship at the Swissultra in Switzerland on Sunday.

Considered the world’s toughest triathlon competition, the Swissultra covers 10 times the distance of a normal triathlon.

Vu Phuong Thanh, 32, finished first in the event’s female category after swimming 38 kilometers (approximately 23.61 miles), cycling 1,800 kilometers (approximately 1,118.46 miles) and running 422 kilometers (approximately 262.22 miles) over the span of 14 days. She completed the course in 328 hours 27 minutes 55 seconds and won a cash prize of 1,000 Euro (approximately $1,000).

Thanh was the only representative from Vietnam in the extremely challenging event, which included only 23 international athletes: 19 men and four women.

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“This was a very special experience indeed,” she was quoted as saying. “During the race, there were many athletes from many different countries. Athletes often exchanged, shared experiences and inspired each other. Cycling at night also made us feel very sleepy, so we rode and talked to each other.”

France's Nadine Zacharias finished in second place in 329 hours, 27 minutes and 16 seconds. The other two women failed to complete the race.

According to Thanh, the president of the World Triathlon National Federations told her that “in the past 30 years, only around 100 people have completed the World Champion Deca Ultra Triathlon. It was certainly not easy to complete this event, sometimes it seemed like I couldn’t do it."

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Meanwhile, Belgium’s Kenneth Vanthuyne, who became champion of the men's category, completed all categories in just eight days.

Born in Hanoi, Thanh has been referred to as Vietnam’s “Desert Rose,” or "The Girl Who Runs Around the World,” after becoming the first Asian to run through the four harshest deserts in the world — the Atacama Desert in Chile, the Gobi Desert in China, the Sahara Desert in North Africa and the Antarctica Desert in Antarctica — in 2016.


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Featured Image via @swissultra_triathlon

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