This year’s Paupau 5150 Taga Triathlon was definitely the year for first-timers with a handful of them topping various categories.
During the event last Saturday, a number of first-timers won top places last weekend including overall winner Jared Inselman. Other first-timers who made their way into the Top 3 were Daryll Deluna and Chong Nam Lee.
Deluna, a Northern Marianas College student, came in first place with a time of 3:53:18 in the 19-under-category and it was only his first time joining a triathlon. Coming in at second place under the same category was Eric Phillip David with a time of 4:07:15.
“This is my first triathlon. I’m very blessed and very proud of myself. I didn’t expect myself to be first place since it is my first triathlon and I’m just very thankful and happy,” Deluna said.
According to the first-time winner, his biggest struggle of the day was keeping his patience.
“Patience was probably the hardest part, patience while you’re doing the actual event. There was a lot of times I was running, biking, or swimming where it felt endless so I really needed to stay patient and I needed to keep calm and move at a steady pace until the finish line,” he said.
However, the work was worth it because he was able to bring to life one of his dreams which was joining a triathlon.
“It has always been my dream to be part of a triathlon because I really look up to people who are ironmans and other triathletes in the Philippines so this has always been my dream since I was a kid. I always thought this wasn’t possible because it can also be expensive depending on where you are but since I saw an opportunity here on Saipan, I just took that opportunity and I just joined,” he said.
Deluna gained his advantage during the bike portion of the race even though it was the most challenging event.
“I really struggled with the biking because I’m not use to it. But, It was on the second lap of the bike, after everyone went down to Kensington [Hotel], I passed about five or six people and I realized that they were having trouble because of the wind. Fortunately for me, I knew how to counter that by putting my head down and I was able to pass them around Banzai [Cliff] and on the way back I was able to catch up to more,” he said.
Deluna said it took one month of continuous training to be triathlon-ready.
“I really struggled with the biking because I’m not use to having long routes for the bike so I needed to focus more on my biking and doing more 20K and 40K as much as possible and because of that, I was able to condition myself as much as possible,” he said.
Triathlon novice Chong Nam Lee came in second place with a time of 3:29:37 for the 60-and-over category after Florence Antonio, submitting a time of 3:18:51. Rounding up the Top 3 was Manny Sitchon with a time of 3:31:57.
For Lee, joining the triathlon was more of getting over his fear and finally crossing it off of his bucket list.
“Joining a triathlon was on my bucket list. Finally, I did it today and it was a little hard for me. I didn’t even expect to make second place but I did and I’m so surprised. I was afraid but I’m so happy that I finally did it,” he said.
Like Deluna, Lee said the swimming and running portions were no trouble for him but the biking part was where he encountered problems.
“For me, the hardest part was biking because every morning I go swimming and every day I go running so those were no problems. The problem was the bike [split] and the bike that I was riding was not my bike, it was my friend’s bike, and the bike was a mountain bike so it was also hard because it was a little heavy so that was where I struggled,” he said.
Fortunately, despite lagging behind in the bike portion, Lee gained momentum in the last portion of the race which was the running portion because he had been training barefoot for months.
“After the bike [split] was running so when I started running, that’s when I started to pass others and I felt very comfortable during the running. Every morning I run barefoot at the [Oleai Track & Field] so I can get used to it,” he said.
The Paupau 5150 Taga Triathlon was named as such because it encompassed 1.5-km swim, 40-km bike, and 10-km run, which adds up to 51.5 km. It was organized by the Triathlon Association of the CNMI.