Joshua Berger expected his wife Mamiko to finish first in the women's division of the 50K race in last Saturday's 2013 Saipan Marathon and the latter did not disappoint her better half.
Mamiko completed the ultra marathon in 4:11:02, not only beating last year's winner Yoko Yamazawa, but also crushing the latter's record (4:19:21). The 45-year-old Yamazawa had to settle for a runner-up honors this year, as she came in to the finish line at the American Memorial Park more than 17 minutes behind Mamiko after clocking in at 4:28:24.
Rounding out the Top 6 finishers in the women's 50K were twin sisters Eri and Mari Yamamoto, who incidentally submitted identical times of 4:57:57, Chiemi Sato (5:00:00) and Yuko Sanada (5:39:55).
When asked if she was expecting to win the longest race of the day, Mamiko said no, as she knew she was facing a tough foe in Yamazawa.
“I did not expect to win it at all, but Joshua thought I will. I saw the name of last year's female winner on the list and she is one of the famous long distance runners in Japan, so I did not think I could beat her,” the 42-year-old Saipan runner said.
Mamiko led from start to finish in the race that brought runners to as far as the Banzai Cliff, to Capital Hill (to the road leading up Mt. Tapochao), and to Susupe (across the Shell gas station before the traffic lights at Chalan Kanoa) before heading back to AMP.
“The weather was perfect. The best part for me was running under moonlight in my favorite Marpi. I was leading from the beginning. I wanted to catch up the second male runner, but my legs were too tired to listen to me,” said Mamiko, who had mixed feelings when asked to compare marathon and the 50K.
“For me, the marathon is more mentally tougher than the 50K. I need to fight with my heart rate in the marathon since I run about a mile a minute faster. I enjoy running this 50K race because it is a slower pace, but the 50K is physically tougher and my legs are sore,” the three-time Saipan Marathon champion added.
Mamiko was the fourth overall finisher in the 50K race behind men's division champion Shingo Bamba (3:55:36), Yosuke Ikeno (4:06:19), and Andrew Harvey (4:23:23). Friends and supporters led by her husband greeted Mamiko at the finish line and because she was still catching her breath after the grueling race, she was not able to talk to the volunteers of the weekend event.
“Thank you all for helping in the race. I know most of volunteers needed to get up as early as 2am and stay until 3pm. I was too tired to say thank you to them at the finish line. I would love to see the Saipan Marathon get bigger and more popular and it cannot happen without volunteers and supporters,” Mamiko said.
Meanwhile, winners in the marathon, half marathon, and 10K races will be reported later this week.