Dev, Akiko top World Tourism Day 5K

Posted on Sep 29 2021

From left, Shuji Kuroda, Dev Bachani, Tomas Abel, Brad Ruszala, Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo, Tiana Cabrera, Akiko Miller, and Lydia Tan are all smiles after the awards ceremony of the Saipan portion of the World Tourism Day 5K Sunset Fun Runs at the Minachom Atdao Pavilion at Kilili Beach Park. (Mark Rabago)

Dev Bachani and Akiko Miller said they will be ordering new running shoes after topping the Saipan portion of the World Tourism Day 5K Sunset Fun Runs along the Gov. Froilan C. Tenorio Beach Road Pathway last Monday.

Bachani upset Shuji Kuroda after the Grandvrio Resort F&B assistant manager had to stop due to cramping. The Marianas High School student conquered the course—from the Minachom Atdao Pavilion at Kilili Beach Park to the Japanese Tank along Quartermaster Road and back—in a blistering time of 16.49. Tomas Abel came second in 16.57, while Kuroda settled for third in 17.20.

“I wasn’t really expecting to win. I thought I was going to get third place. I think I picked up the pace at the end and I beat the second placer. Unfortunately, Shuji cramped that’s why he had to stop and that’s why he was third place. It should be Shuji first, me second, and [Tomas] third,” said the soft-spoken Bachani after the race.

He added that he almost felt that Monday’s win was sort of payback for losing in the PSS/NMA Cross Country Qualifier two weeks ago after he and a few other elite runners miscalculated the turnaround.

“I guess [it’s payback], but I still felt bad for Shuji because he should’ve won.”

When asked what he would do with the $300 first place purse, Bachani said he would reinvest it into running. “[I’ll] buy shoes. Any shoes I’m not sure.”

Abel pocketed $200 for finishing runner-up and Kuroda went home with $100. The Tokyo, Japan native later said he didn’t know there was prizemoney involved and jokingly uttered that he would’ve overcome his cramps if he knew $300 will go to the first place finisher. Abel, meanwhile, was overheard saying “Oh, to be young!” after asking race organizers how old the 16-year-old Bachani was.

Like Kuroda, Miller was also oblivious that there was prizemoney involved in the 5K sunset run. Nonetheless, she still gave it the old college try and topped the women’s division in 19.00 flat. Saipan International School’s Tiana Cabrera came in second in 20.03, while Lydia Tan completed the Top 3 in 22.23.

“I didn’t know there was a prize. I really didn’t know. I was surprised that I came first in the women. Even the prizemoney was a bigger surprise for me. That’s a big surprise for me. What am I going to buy? Maybe new shoes?” Miller told Saipan Tribune after the race.

In the best Chamorro and Carolinian attire, Brad Ruszala was the lone entry and won $100. The contest was held in support of Cultural Heritage Month and recognized the significance of indigenous culture to tourism.

Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla M. Iakopo congratulated all the winners of the Saipan portion of the World Tourism Day 5K Sunset Fun Runs. Races were also held on Tinian and Rota. She added that the fun run was the culminating event of MVA’s celebration of the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s World Tourism Day. In all, 65 runners took part in the race on Saipan.

Earlier in the day, businesses and other groups also participated in island beautification cleanups on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. In celebration of CNMI Museum Day, MVA also partnered with the Northern Mariana Islands Museum of History & Culture and offered free tours at the museum for Marianas Youth Welcome All Visitors Enthusiastically (MY WAVE) clubs and tourism partners.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at
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