Six-hundred and thirty-eight runners joined the 8th Annual Saipan Marathon last Saturday, underscoring the growing international draw of the event to this Pacific beach resort destination.
Runners from Japan, Korea, Guam, China, U.S., and the CNMI participated in the marathon, half-marathon, 10K, and 50K event. Over 600 participants and most of the winners hailed from Japan, alone, where the marathon is strongly promoted by popular Japanese comedian Kanpei Hizama.
A number of media were on island to cover the event, including Japan's Running Style and Tarzan magazines and production company Boom-Up for BS NTV station, as well as media outlets Gentlemen Korea and LEON Korea. New Balance will also produce an ad feature on the marathon in Japan. The estimated advertising exposure of these visiting media, not include pre-event publicity, is over $500,000.
“Overall, the Saipan Marathon was an overwhelming success thanks to the continued support of our international and local sponsors, the local government, our over 60 volunteers, and the community, at large,” said Marianas Visitors Authority Community Projects nanager Martin Duenas. “We thank everyone for welcoming our runners and their friends and families and giving them a weekend to remember in Saipan.”
Masataka Uchino (2:37:52) and Norie Furuya (3:10:18) of Japan topped the men's and women's full marathon, respectively. Bamba Shingo (3:55:26) of Japan and Mamiko Oshima-Berger (4:11:02) of the CNMI ran the fastest in the men's and women's 50K. Charlie Epperson (1:21:09) and Terra Allen (1:48:00) of the CNMI finished first in the men's and women's half-marathon, respectively. Yonekura Tako (00:33:56) of Japan and Noriko Jim (00:44:55) of the CNMI shot first in the men's and women's 10K, respectively.
A number of celebrity runners also joined the event, including Sydney Olympics' silver medalist Eric Wainaina, Japanese elite runner Kazuyoshi Tokumoto, Japanese popular comedian group Total Tembos members Tomohiro Omura and Kensuke Fujita, and Japanese comedian Hiroaki Hamamoto. Participants were also treated to a free post-awards show by Yoshimoto Creative Agency.
Over 700 runners registered for the event, with 638 starting on race day.
The MVA thanked the following sponsors and supporters: Hotel Association of the Northern Mariana Islands, DFS Galleria, Northern Mariana Athletics, Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management of Saipan, Department of Public Works, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. (Nursing Department), Northern Marianas College Nursing Department and School of Education, Division of Parks & Recreation, Commonwealth Utilities Corp., Saipan Mayors Office, Hawaiian Rock Product, New Balance, Scalp D, ENEOS, Delta Air Lines, Runtomo.net, Sports Authority, Power 99, KKMP, KSPN2, Kinpachi Restaurant, Islander Rent A Car, Nippon Travel Agency, Saipan Sea Ventures, Detry Pumping Service, Tasi Tours, Pacific Development Inc., Marianas High School, Docomo Pacific, IT & E, Saipan Southern High School, Marianas Tourism Education Council/MY WAVE, Mariana Resort & Spa, Aqua Resort Club, Hyatt Regency Saipan, Hafadai Beach Hotel, Fiesta Resort and Spa, Kanoa Resort Hotel, Saipan World Resort, Pacific Islands Club Saipan, American Red Cross, American Memorial Park, and Good Day. (MVA)