Five first-timers and one repeat participant from Saipan will race in the New York City Marathon.
Dubbed as the largest marathon in the world (record 98,247 runners in 2017 and 53,508 finishers in 2019), the NYC Marathon is going ahead with its 50th-anniversary race despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as this year’s event will be held virtually. Participants will run 26.2 miles (42.19K) and they can do it at any course from Oct. 17 to Nov. 1. Though runners have two weeks to complete the race, they must meet the required distance in one session.
Saipan runners Rommel Buenaflor, Malou Carlos, Matt Sitchon, Taro Goto, Chang Whan Jang, and Roxanne Soriano are planning to take on the challenge this weekend and use the Saipan Marathon route.
“This is a great opportunity to be a part of the prestigious New York Marathon, especially the event is celebrating its golden anniversary this year, so this is big and this is also my first time to do a full marathon,” Soriano said.
While Soriano will debut in the NYC Marathon, Buenaflor will be doing his second race in the event considered as one of the World Marathon Majors. He completed the course that covered the five boroughs of the Big Apple in 2019.
Buenaflor said they did a pace run last weekend and have been doing their regular runs the past months to get ready for the virtual event. He will do his best to finish the NYC Marathon again, but hopes to have another chance of taking on the actual course and wishes the same for other Saipan runners.
“It’s one of the hardest marathons in the world, but the experience is definitely worth it,” Buenaflor said.
Sitchon, on the other hand, tried completing the distance last weekend, but stopped at the 25K mark due to cramps. The sexagenarian added that for long distance event like marathon, he needs to train for 35K plus running at least two times a week to get into top shape. He will try again this weekend and aims to surpass his personal best (5:01:00).
Meanwhile, Soriano said the virtual NYC Marathon has its pros and cons, but the former outweighs the latter, as she is determined to continue her passion for running amidst the pandemic.
“Unlike our local marathons, you have to keep track of your own time, safety, nutrition, and hydration with the virtual NYC Marathon. However, this virtual run gives us the opportunity to try and get our personal best time without the pressure of competition. We will be racing without the support from the crowd, but with the encouragement from my friends Jean Bernardo and Jerin Alladin, I believe that their presence is more than enough than any loud cheers. I will not let COVID-19 stop me from joining races,” said Soriano, whose target finish time is between five and six hours.