Dizon, Spaeth top 2nd Mini Games tryout

Nap Dizon and Robyn Spaeth

Nap Dizon and Robyn Spaeth won the second tryout for the CNMI National Triathlon Team for the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games last Saturday in Marpi. (Mark Rabago)

Nap Dizon and Robyn Spaeth won the second tryout for the CNMI National Triathlon Team for the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games last Saturday in Marpi.

The 45-year-old Dizon was the first to complete the 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike, and 5-km run in 1:17:32. He was followed by 16-year-old Dylan Mister in 1:18:21 with Ronald Villafria coming in third in 1:19:18.

Dizon said he’s just overjoyed to continue doing outdoor activities despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID season you need to be careful and stay healthy! I wasn’t expecting to win at all. I just wanted a workout this weekend,” he said.

The Transamerica Hardware staff said like all triathlons he participated in so far, it was a struggle toward the finish line.

“The swim was horrible as the current was so strong. The bike course as always it’s hard on the climb and on the run it’s pretty much torture,” he said.

The Nueva Ecija in the Philippines native said he’s dedicating his surprise win in the tryout to his family, friends, and co-triathletes.

Mister said he’s pretty satisfied with his performance in his very first triathlon.

“The run was very good. At the beginning my legs felt like jelly. The first hill in Paupau I made it up to the top but after that I didn’t know if I could finish. The swim felt good because the current was moving us to the beach. I haven’t had much training for the swim so I was surprised to come out of the water first,” he said.

The son of former CNMI national volleyball player Tyce Mister finished runner-up in the men’s division despite a broken chain at the start of the bike split.

“I’m not sure what happened when I was going up the small hill in the beginning as my bike chain fell off and I was trying to fix it for 4 minutes then one of the volunteers came and helped me fix it and I got back on. I’m pretty happy and pretty surprised I haven’t been training too much but when I do train I train hard. My dad has also been helping me a lot,” he said.

The Marianas High School student said he’s trying out for both triathlon and beach volleyball in next year’s Mini Games, but conceded that he probably has a better chance getting a spot in the former than the latter.

“I’m trying out for beach volleyball, but my older brother Logan is like really good at volleyball. I need a lot more practice…” he said.

Villafria made up for a last-place finish in the swim split to a podium finish among the men. The 50-year-old veteran runner said he hasn’t really trained much the past couple of years due to the pandemic, but still tried his best in the tryout.

“It was hard but I just tried my best. Haven’t really trained since last year. I just tried to push myself in the bike and run after my slow swim.”

Spaeth dominated the women division after crossing the finish line in 1:19:59. She was followed by Heather Brook and Kathy Ruszala with times of 1:24:54 and 1:27:45, respectively.

“It was really fun for us. It felt good,” Spaeth said.

The 38-year-old MHS teacher from North Dakota said save for the swim, the tryout went smoothly.

“You can’t even see the rock (finish line marker) most of the time so we were looking at the beach than the rock,” she said about the difficult conditions of the swim split.

“The run felt good and that’s not my strong suite. It felt good and it was a good distance. Really happy it was a 5K. I’m also happy we could still do these events during the pandemic. We’re out there racing and we have a great community doing it,” she added.

Brook seconded Spaeth on her assessment of the swim portion of the triathlon, which saw the organizing Triathlon Association of the CNMI abandon the original two-lap course for a straighter path by moving the starting line further north.

“The waves were OK but the water was really turbulent as you can’t see much and there’s a lot of debris and branches in the water and sometimes you’d be swimming through it. It was a little unnerving if you can’t see as usually the water is so clear and you can use that to see the bottom and see the other swimmers around,” she said.

The 34-year-old nurse practitioner at the children’s clinic of the Commonwealth Health Center said after that everything was peachy.

“We had spotters on the turn to stop traffic. I was happy it was just a 5K run distance. I think the harder part is when races get cancelled after you’ve been training for them. So I was excited to see that this was still happening.”

The cancelled race Brook was alluding to was this year’s Hell of the Marianas, which was supposed to be held yesterday, Dec. 5.

“It was kind of nice to do this instead because that one was cancelled.”

Ruszala jokingly said she joined the tryout after seeing that only Spaeth and Brook have entered in the women’s category, making her a shoe-in for third.

“You know why I joined because there was no one on third…[seriously] it was good and it was fun. These ladies (Spaeth and Brook) are always motivating everyone in the triathlon community,” said the 38-years-old 3rd grade teacher at Saipan International School.

Like Spaeth and Brook, Ruszala said she also had some issues with the swim split.

“I’m glad that they changed the course a little bit because the current was already pushing us. The bike course was nice and dry unlike the last race when I crashed so there was a lot of mental struggle for me. It’s just a small group but it’s such a good group too,” she said.

The day’s athletic activity didn’t end with the Mini Games tryouts for Ruszala and Spaeth as the two played back-to-back soccer games on Saturday and Sunday.

Rounding up the participants of last Saturday’s tryouts were former lifeguard Leo Wania (1:29:34), TRAC president Manny Sitchon (1:33:38), and TRAC secretary general Ricky Castro (1:43:37).

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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