Mieko Carey successfully defended her women's division title in last Saturday's 7th POWERade Banzai Memorial Off-Road Half Marathon and Fun Run.
The 34-year-old triathlete completed the half marathon race in 2:11:50 to top the women's division anew. Last year, Carey clocked in at 150:46 to beat Natasha Kuckuck (2:14:30).
It was a bittersweet title defense for Carey, as the weekend race was her last as a Saipan resident. Carey, who crossed the finish line of the Saturday event with friend and co-winner Mamiko-Oshima Berger, moved to Guam last Sunday.
“Mami and I ran and talked from start to the end. I told her how I enjoyed running on Saipan and I want to go the finish line to win with my best friend. She helped me become a strong athlete. She reminds me that a race is not always about the first person to cross the finish line, it is also about fun, and the runner who races against himself or herself is a winner, too” Carey said.
The two top finishers made it to Banzai about 16 minutes ahead of runner-up Pipit Surya, who submitted 2:27:40. Sean Smith was the overall top finisher of the off-road half marathon, clocking in at 1:38:54. Smith defeated two favored participants, Ronald Villafria and Butch Sublemente. Villafria placed second after posting 1:41:30, while Sublemente dropped from second last year to third last weekend after recording 1:50:53.
In the fun run, Nonie Eugenio ruled the men's division after clocking in at 29:45. Coming in at second place was Steven Pixley, who logged 30:57, while Alexander Racoma completed the Top 3 with his time of 32:30.
In the women's division, Banzai half marathon inaugural winner Kimiko McKagan nosed out Hanako McKagan in a neck-and-neck battle for first place. Kimiko timed in at 37:10, just two second ahead of Hanako. Carol Lynn Pierce rounded out the Top 3 after posting 1:09:02.
“We had a total of 40 participants for both events and it was a great morning for racing. The weather cooperated with us once again, as runners enjoyed clear skies and an endless supply of Powerade. Sean Smith tore up the course with an amazing sub 1:40 time and he could have been faster if the ground was dry. I can't way to see if he can retain his title in 2013,” race organizer Brad Ruszala said.
All proceeds from the even will be donated to the team of three-time Banzai run Ketson “Jack” Kabiriel. Kabiriel will use the donation to send his young runners to the Guam Ko'Ko Road Race next month.