Japanese conquer Saipan Marathon

Japanese Yoshiyuki Ono celebrates his first place finish in last Saturday’s 2019 Saipan Marathon.

Japanese runners dominated the men’s division of last Saturday’s 2019 Saipan Marathon, while three CNMI residents made it to the podium in the women’s field.

Forty-year-old Yoshiyuki Ono proved that age is just a number, as he led the finishers in the full marathon event after clocking in at 2:38:32. He was the oldest among the Top 6 overall finishers in the men’s division of the race that started and ended at the American Memorial Park with turnaround points at Banzai Cliff in Marpi up north and Pacific Islands Club Saipan in San Antonio down south.

Ono completed the longest race of the day more than a minute ahead of compatriot and 32-year-old Taku Fujiwara, who checked in at 2:39:39. Two other Japanese runners made it to the Top 6. Twenty-six-year-old Seiji Shiroki and 22-year-old Satoshi Endo were ranked sixth and fifth after finishing the 42K event in 2:59:43 and 3:00:14, respectively. Meisong Ji, an 18-year-old runner from China, placed third after timing in at 2:44:13, while 33-year-old Ryan Matienzo of Guam came in at fourth following his time of 2:44:47.

In the women’s division, Saipan resident Kaylee Heath was the fastest among the host’s runners after registering 3:32:29 and finished second behind Japan’s Natsuko Muramatsu (3:28:25). Heather Taylor and Sakiko Eda were the two other Saipan residents to make it to the Top 6 overall with the former recording a third-best 3:42:39 and the latter logging 3:48:20 (fifth best in the division). Guam’s Dianne Marie Sapida (3:41:17) and Japan’s Risa Yoshida (3:53:17) rounded out the Top 6, who received plaques and cash prizes during the awards ceremony held at the Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan last Saturday night.

The Marianas Visitors Authority, which organized the race, also recognized the top placers in various age groups, awarding them with medals besides the ones for finishers

In the 16 to 19 division, Agape Christian School runners Chenxuan Yang and Irish He Zhang were the winners after clocking in at 4:47:34 and 7:05:12. Other top finishers in their age groups were 20 to 29’s Naoki Sakamoto (3:12:48) and Haeran Gwon (4:22:39), 30 to 39’s Tiantian Wang (3:21:11) and Xinli Zhang (4:54:31), 40 to 49’s Seiji Adahi (3:03:49) and Tinian Kimberly King-Hinds (4:09:15), 50 to 59’s Jongboum Choi (3:21:265) and Yaling Zhu (4:22:31), and over 60’s Sheguo Wang (3:43:35).

Meanwhile, in the half marathon event, former Saipan resident Mieko Carey managed to barge into the Top 6 after submitting 1:45:03. She finished fifth behind Saipan’s Noriko Jim (1:45:01), while China’s Jia Yang ruled the event after checking in at 1:25:40. China’s Wu Yang Fei (1:33:06), Korea’s Sunok Hwang (1:33:31), and China’s Zhang Yongbo (1:39:28) completed the Top 6.

In the men’s field, the first placer is also from China with 22-year-old You Jun Jie finishing the 21K race in 1:16:34. Jie made it to the finish line just four seconds ahead of Japan’s Fenta Saito (1:16:38), while China’s Yunfeng Huang (1:17:47) and Xiao Yu Sun (1:24:13) and Japan’s Akinori Tachibana (1:19:17) and Masashi Saito (1:20:16) rounded out the Top 6.

The half marathon race also started and ended at AMP with a turnaround point at PIC.

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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