Fast-rising Saipan runner Sean Smith debuted in the 29th Annual Turkey Trot Fun Run and ruled yesterday’s race to Mt. Tapochao.
Smith completed the 4.2-mile race run from Lower Base to the highest peak on the island in 44:04, leading the finishers in the annual event Northern Marianas Athletics holds every Thanksgiving Day.
Smith and 92 other runners headed out to the course a few minutes later than the 6:30am kick-off time, as rain fell while participants were waiting for the race to begin. When the rain stopped, the 26-year-old runner was in the first wave of participants to leave the starting line and then was without company on his way up to Capital Hill.
Smith then appeared out of the heavy fog covering Mt. Tapochao four minutes ahead of second overall finisher and fellow Turkey Trot first-timer Charlie Sendin.
Though it was his debut in one of NMA’s signature events, Smith admitted he is used to running in high altitude and cold weather.
“The weather was fine for me and the course was a challenge, but I survived,” said Smith, who won his fourth race in a row since September, as he also prevailed in the SIS Fun Run, Radar Run, and Banzai Run.
Smith won a turkey for being the top male finisher, while Amy Sletten took the honors in the women’s division after clocking in at 49:44.
In the open division, Butch Sublemente won after submitting 47:13—the fourth best time in the field. Soledad Tenorio also completed the race under one hour with her 56:40 to place first in the women’s open division.
Sendin’s 44:04 topped the men’s 30 to 39 age group, while Antonina Banes’ 1:07:46 lead the women’s field.
In the men’s 40 to 49, Tyce Mister, who was runner-up in his age group last year, this time finished first with a time of 46:06, while Shelly Scott prevailed in the women’s division after posting 1:22:44.
Veteran runner Steve Pixley was in his usual form and reigned supreme in the 50-and-above age group after tallying 48:02, while Lyn Tenorio took the women’s top honors with her 1:14:03.
The U17 age group had repeat winners in Michael Mancao and Gabrielle Race with the latter eclipsing her 2011 winning time (59:14) after posting 55:51 in yesterday’s race. Mancao timed in at 45:43, more than a minute slower than his last year’s record of 44:10.
In the U12 division, siblings Alan and Alyssa Stafford won after posting 53:28 and 1:26:24, respectively.
Meanwhile, Chang Wang Jang did his traditional barefoot running in yesterday’s race and had company in another brave barefoot runner, 69-year-old Daniel Han.