There was great excitement when, for the first time in Laos’ history, Vang Vieng hosted the first-ever trail run in the country. Under the name of Vang Vieng Trail, it brought together over 600 running and adventure lovers.
This November, the second edition of the race hopes to gather even more runners to a unique venue promising incredible natural landscapes. In a region which not so long ago was known as a debaucherous party destination, events like Vang Vieng Trail strengthen the growing idea of Vang Vieng as the perfect eco-tourism destination.
Trail running is a rising trend in Asia, with more and more people interested in outdoor and adventurous sports. In Laos, the Vang Vieng Trail meets the needs of many running enthusiasts who wanted to connect with like-minded people and challenge themselves.
Green Step, a new Lao event organizing company with an eco-background is the organization behind the challenging yet incredibly fun events. It is a joint venture between Green Discovery Laos, leader in eco-tourism and adventure travels in Laos, and Teelakow, a trail run organizer based in Thailand. Green Step sees all their events, from trail runs and cycling races to conferences, as a way to promote environmental conservation by helping people connect with nature.
Both companies explored Vang Vieng’s breathtaking surroundings together, looking for the perfect combination of challenging trails and beautiful nature. It was an ambitious goal, not to create a traditional race, but an adventure turned into a race.
The result is 85 kilometers of a paved and gravel circuit that weaves between the mystic mountains surrounding Vang Vieng, passing beautiful streams, small villages, and a few buffalos. Participants can choose from different levels, from 8 to 85 kilometers long.
“The competition itself is not as important as giving the participants the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the area, going through places that tourists wouldn’t normally be able to discover”, said Ithy Deuansavanh, Green Discovery Laos’ president.
Interaction with locals is another aspect of this trail which immerses runners in the authentic culture of Laos. Is not unusual that runners come across villagers on their daily duties in the forest, such as looking for food, nor is it unusual to be followed by curious kids.
“For us, the most beautiful part is the feeling of community that arises among runners. We witnessed the birth of many good friendships”, said Nop Suksawat, Teelakow’s director.
At the moment, Green Step features a series of three races in Lao’s most popular locations: Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang and the Bolaven Plateau.
There are many more races to come, but the next event will be the much anticipated Bolaven Trail, which sends runners deeper into nature than ever before and sees them running between stunning waterfalls.
Registration is already open for the Vang Vieng Trail, either online at Teelakow’s website or in any of Green Discovery Laos’ offices.