Marshall Hoskins and Denise Myers topped the men’s and women’s division of the Run Saipan Underground 5K 21.3 up to Mt. Tapochau last Friday.
Hoskins was the only runner to finish the lung-busting trek up to Saipan’s highest peak under 30 minutes as he achieved the feat in 26:43.
The 27-year-old from Pennsylvania said it was an achievement to win the run up to Mt. Tapochau.
“Tapochau is one of the more difficult runs on island since you’re using certain muscles much more than you normally would, constantly. Both flat ground and uphill running have their difficulties. Personally, I like uphill since it can be a bit more fun to plan your steps. It just takes a different approach,” he said.
Saipan Community School teacher and ordained pastor Mat Murphy came in second with a time of 30:18, while completing the Top 3 was Leith Pool who checked in at 30:53.
In the women’s division, Myers took all comers and prevailed in an excellent time of 33:45. Saipan International School student Tiana Cabrera came in second less than a minute after Myers with her 34:29, while Ayano Braxton rounded out the Top 3 for the women’s when she reached the top of Mt. Tapochau in 34:44.
Myers, a 31-year-old health and PE teacher at Northern Marianas College, said it came as a big surprise that she was the first woman to the peak in the Run Saipan Underground 5K 21.3.
“There are a lot of fast women here in the CNMI so I definitely didn’t show up thinking I would win. The run is really tough psychologically because it’s all up hill, so it never feels like there is a break, but lucky for me Tiana started off fast so I was able to use her in front of me as motivation to keep pushing,” the Perry, Missouri native said.
A total of 36 runners took on the challenge of the Run Saipan Underground 5K 21.3.
The 5K run up to Mt. Tapochau is the third in the Run Saipan Underground 5K series. It follows the Beach Road pathway run (from the Garapan Fishing Base) last February and the Marpi run (from the Mariana Resort & Spa) last March. The next Run Saipan Underground 5K series is the Beach Road pathway run (from the Oleai Bar & Grill) in May and the Banzai Cliff run in June, according to Run Saipan Underground 5K coordinator Edward Jr. Dela Cruz.
He earlier told Saipan Tribune that the Run Saipan Underground 5K series provides a fun challenge for the community to look forward to every year at no cost.
“It is to get people to go out and be active and promote cardiovascular activity. I didn’t make it purely competitive. We will honor the Top 3 fastest times but other than that, there are no categories,” said Dela Cruz.
He added that the Run Saipan Underground 5K series was inspired by the Saipan International School’s Run the Marianas. “The Underground 5K series are always free entry and made with the intention for everyone to just come out run walk or jog for fun.”