One man’s story. Thousands of people’s marathon
At mile 20, Dennis Zaborac collapsed into an empty chair at a busy outdoor café. Sunburnt, blistered, fatigued and dehydrated, he found himself surrounded by a few local young men welcoming him with beers. When he arrived in Danang for the first time in 42 years to run the inaugural Danang International Marathon, he had wanted to withhold the information that he was American and that he had served here in the war. But these young men were inquisitive. And Zaborac didn’t have the heart to be untruthful.
Stationed for a year at Cua Dai River just near Hoi An, when Zaborac was sent home abruptly after the war ended, he felt like he had left some unfinished business behind in Vietnam. Four decades later, he returned to Danang to run the marathon and to resolve the incompleteness he felt from his previous journey to this once war-torn country.
Sitting at the café with beers in hand, the local men asked Zaborac two very telling questions. “Where are you from?” And, “Is this your first trip to Vietnam?” As he vaguely shared his previous experience in their country, Zaborac’s audience felt his obvious discomfort. The young men tried to reassure him that they felt no animosity towards him. When Zaborac finally looked up and maintained eye contact with one young man, all he saw were kindness and sincerity. In that instant, a bond was created that linked two countries and spanned four decades.
Zaborac spent the next 20 minutes chatting with his new friends, and when he finally got up to run the last six miles, he felt ready and rejuvenated. As he set his sights towards the finish line, he didn’t feel like he was entering enemy territory. Instead, he felt a unique camaraderie that exists when you collectively survive running 26.2 miles in the humid Vietnam heat. To his surprise, Zaborac’s new friends from mile 20 were there cheering him on as he crossed the finish line.
42 years after he had left so suddenly, Zaborac found closure. He found acceptance. He found absolution. But most importantly, on his short beer break at mile 20, he finally understood something about Vietnamese people, more so than in the year he had spent fighting them.
More than just a Marathon
This year, the theme for the Danang International Marathon is Run for Peace. Celebrating 40 years of peace in Vietnam, the organisers predict 5,000 amateur runners and 1,500 professional marathoners.
Last year, 3,500 runners and 400 professional runners participated from 25 different countries and territories. The Danang International Marathon is the first IAAF-AIMS (International Association of Athletics Federations and Association of International Marathons and Distance Races) certified run in Vietnam. — Diana Truong
Date: Aug. 30, 2015
Time: 4am to 11am
Courses: Runners can sign up for three distances — the full marathon, half marathon and a 5km fun run
Fees: From VND210,000 to VND2,300,000
Hotline: 0919 327323
Jack Wells Wednesday, 12 August 2015 14:55 Comment Link
Well written and great article by Diana Truong. Hope to meet you if you cover the event in Danang.