Challenge exceeded!


Vernice Ronda Estepa, left, and Florence Antonio, seen here competing in local races, reached past the required miles in the Go The Distance Challenge. (Contributed Photo)

Saipan dominated the Go The Distance Challenge with the Top 2 overall finishers reaching past the required distance in their respective events.

In the 300-mile bike division of the virtual race, which was organized by Urban Fitness Project Team from Guam and had participants urged to complete their event for one month (July 1 to 31), Saipan had a sweep with Vernice Ronda Estepa and Sheila Isla taking the Top 2 spots in the women’s division and Mark Isip and Pax Guevarra duplicating the feat in the men’s side.

Estepa logged 931.12 miles, more than three times the required distance, as she completed the event way ahead of schedule. Isla recorded 785.78 miles, while Isip and Gueverra registered 2,231.46 and 1,756.93 miles, respectively.

“I finished the 300 miles last July 12 and decided to add up miles not to limit my challenge but to challenge my limits,” said Estepa.

Vernice Ronda Estepa, left, joins her friends for a group photo at the American Memorial Park before heading out to their bike course. (Contributed Photo)

The top finisher biked four times a week with her friends and their usual route was from American Memorial Park to the Airport Road and Banzai Cliff and back. Estepa’s longest ride in a day was at the 68.76-mile mark.

In the swim part, sexagenarian Florence Antonio also exceeded the required distance (30-mile) as he posted 85.65 miles.

“I swam every day for one month in the Guma Sakman area and sometimes all the way to the ‘Tank’ in Quartermaster,” the 61-year-old said.

Antonio would have joined the bike race, but he went under the knife and was advice to stay away from biking and walking.

“Swimming was the only form of exercise I am allowed to do that time. It’s my therapy. I was not really concern about finishing or topping the race, I just want my back to heal,” said Antonio, who figured in a nasty bike accident several months ago.

Mark Isip races in the 2018 Hell of Marianas. Isip logged the most miles in the Go The Distance Challenge. (Triathlon CNMI)

He completed the task after 13 days, as he logged 800 meters or 1,000m every day. Not bad for someone who learned to swim when he was already 48 years old.

“I learned to swim from Joshua Berger and Stuart Smith. I just had my follow-up checkup with my doctor and he said I can bike now. I am getting better, but I will still take it slow and continue to swim,” said Antonio, who competed in various triathlon events on island.

Meanwhile, other Saipan participants who stood out in the Go The Distance Challenge were Taro Goto and Yulia Aleksenko. Goto recorded 311.64 miles in the run race (requirement was 100 miles), while Aleksenko ruled the women’s swim event with her 70.58 miles.

Guam’s Amanda Walsh (60.09 miles) was second in the women’s swim race, while Lauren Agar and Sharon Hawley, also from the host island, got the Top 2 finish in the women’s run division after logging 485.90 miles and 463.06 miles, respectively.

The Go The Distance Challenge was organized to raise funds for the frontliners helping in our battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and encourage people to return to their sports/activities in a safe and responsible manner.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.
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