It was a champion effort from road runner Charmaine
RUNNING: This is something at which to marvel. From the relatively flat tracks of the Gladstone region to the mountainous terrain of Vietnam, Gladstone Road Runners president Charmaine Thompson conquered all to win the acclaimed Vietnam Mountain Marathon.
Thompson completed the 100km ultra marathon in 19:19:26 hours, finishing more than six minutes ahead of Frenchwoman Coline Drain-Martin.
"This is a seriously tough ultra marathon that covers every type of terrain the area has to offer," Thompson said.
"The course began high up in the mountains of Sapa. The start of the race headed out on a sealed road but quickly turned into some hidden pathway with a tricky descent.
"I had my first slip on a boulder and it resulted in a very bruised tailbone."
Thompson's capacity to withstand pain was further tested later that night when she suffered yet another fall on a wet clay track while attempting a tough descent.
"This one hurt and unfortunately resulted in a sore thigh muscle which restricted movement of my knee which I was unable to bend without severe pain," she said.
Thompson said the tough conditions during the race were made even harder when rain began to fall.
"It had begun to rain and continued throughout the night until daybreak," she said.
Thompson reached the 30km checkpoint in 4.5 hours but the race only became more challenging.
"I had over 60km to go and still hadn't reached the highest elevation," Thompson said.
A river crossing was made more difficult by the rainfall and Thompson's leg injury continued to hamper her progress but she battled on, moving into second place in the women's race.
When illness forced the top-seeded runner out of the event, Thompson assumed the lead.
"I now had the pressure to maintain my position," Thompson said.
"My strategy was to ensure I continually eat the snack protein bites I had in my pack, eat plenty of fruit along the way and ensure I drink plenty."
Thompson had stopped at the 30km checkpoint to change her socks but opted to wear the same shoes for the duration.
The runners continued to battle challenging conditions, including dog attacks as they ran through the villages, but Thompson said she was never seriously threatened.
"Fortunately, it was all just noise and they posed no threat," she said. "It was enough for me to pick up the odd rock at times in case I needed to scare them away."
The course took the runners through villages, rice paddy fields, creeks and trails.
"At around the 60km mark I ran with a Vietnamese lady who was second," Thompson said.
"She gave me great encouragement and energy to make some gain on the village roads that we were running on.
"She was stunned that I did not have trekking poles and insisted we find a substitute immediately as she warned me that the next 10km were going to be the steepest ascent and descent of the race. She encouraged me to find some bamboo sticks on the side of the road."
The sticks provided Thompson with support on the often slippery terrain, which proved crucial as she defended her race lead.
"When I knew I had 4km to go I was digging deep to run through the intense pain in my leg," she said.
"Flat ground no longer gave me any reprieve."
Thompson was able to battle through the pain, however, as she closed in on the finish line.
"When the finish line came in sight I was greeted with an amazing celebration from the event organisers and my family," she said.
"I was so happy and proud that I had pushed through."
An MRI has since revealed Thompson suffered a major tear in the quad muscle in the right leg and a minor tear under the knee.