Bad weather failed to dampen the 4th Annual Christmas in the Marianas Walk, as more than 50 people braved rain and strong winds to participate in the 10-kilometer walk along the Saipan Beach Pathway Saturday.
The trek started at the Chamolinian Cultural Village went south to the Oleai Beach Club area and back to the Garapan landmark. A five-kilometer walk was also made available for children.
Saipan Walking Association, Inc., in cooperation with the Marianas Visitors Authority, organized the holiday walk. All walkers were given free red T-shirts before the walk and a SAIWAI distance card.
Event coordinator and SAIWAI secretary Mario K. Espeleta said like all their activities, the Christmas in the Marianas Walk was a non-competitive walking event, which aims to promote public health and camaraderie through walking among members, local participants, and the international community.
He went on to say that SAIWAI has affiliate member organizations in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Nepal, Australia, New Zealand, as well as 29 other European countries and is part of the International Federation of Popular Sports or IVV.
After the walk, participants were given refreshments and treated to a brief program, where the mainstays of the Chamolinian Village rendered local island music and traditional dances. The Christmas in the Marianas Walk was capped by a brilliant fireworks display.
After the program, Espeleta explained that SAIWAI presents members with achievement awards once their distance cards reach 100 and 500 kilometers. Moreover, the walking association also gives away patches and pins to recognize members who have reached certain walking milestones.
The MVA collaborated with SAIWAI to stage the event as part of its Christmas in the Marianas tourism program. Deputy managing director Martin F. Dueñas said MVA has always been very active in SAIWAI’s walking programs.
“We’ve been part of it and always supported it because it’s a good organization and it does a lot of health and fitness stuff,” he said.
SAIWAI has also been working with other groups such as the women’s group and the public health sector. Next year, SAIWAI plans to work with the local Girls Scouts organization and a team from Germany to stage another event.
The group also plans to get Tinian involved, “so that we could have a two-island walk,” said Espeleta. He also said that one of SAIWAI’s dreams is for its members to walk on the Great Wall of China in the future. (Marconi Calindas)