Visiting Japanese runners dominated the 50-kilometer Kanpei Course of last Saturday’s 2015 Saipan Festival of Runs 10th Annual Marathon, 34th Half Marathon, and 29th 10K that started and ended at the American Memorial Park near Micro Beach.
Yasutaka Monde and Yumiko Kobayashi were the fastest male and female runners that navigated the lung-busting 50K course that went around the usual route of similar events on the island.
Monde, the youngest participant at age 23, led the Top 6 finishers in the men’s division as his blistering pace had him completing the entire course in 3:23:01 for a full five-minute lead over closest pursuer Hikaru Ideguchi (3:28:17).
Four more Japanese crossed the finish line in under four hours with 40-year-old Tomohiro Mizukoshi finishing third with a time of 3:50:18, while Yoshiharu Sugmoto, 39, came in three minutes after in an official clocking of 3:53:53.
Kazushi Kobayashi, 45, and 25-year-old Tatsuya Shibano rounded up the Top 6 with times of 3:56:39 and 3:59:37, respectively.
Kobayashi, on the other hand, topped the women’s division with a time of 5:16:34 followed by compatriots Kaori Marushima (5:37:29) and Matai Yuko (5:49:14), who settled for the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
Etsuko Oshiro, one of two 61-year-olds that participated in the 50K event, came in at fourth and was more than a minute behind third placer Yuko with a time of 5:50:41.
Tumiko Mizuno (6:12:06) and Mihoko Oguro (6:25:05) completed the Top 6 finishers in the women’s division.
Filipino Charlie Sendin and Barbara Tayama of the United States broke the Japanese monopoly when they topped their respective age divisions.
The 32-year-old Sendin logged in a time of under five hours, 4:58:38, to clinch the men’s 30-35 age group, while Tayama was the 40-45 division winner with a time of 6:25:23.
It was another all Japanese show in the other age divisions with Masato Ueda the fastest in the 20-25 (5:20:45) while, Yoshihiro Narui clinched the 40-49 crown with 4:42:16.
Amane Waseda (4:29:08) and Makoto Ito (4:47:47) were the best male runners in the 50-55 and over-60 age group.
Fumi Okagawa (5:57:05) and Junko Ishii (7:18:04) bagged the women’s 30-35 and 50-55 age division honors.
The 50K course started at AMP where runners head toward Banzai Cliff and back to Sadog Tasi road. From Sadog Tasi road they will go up to Capital Hill and turn around near the road going to Mt. Tapochao.
From the Mt. Tapochao road, the 50K runners then head down back going to Beach Road and turn around at the stoplight before Chalan Kanoa and back to finish line at AMP.
More than 520 runners from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Guam, USA, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the CNMI participated that were spread out in the four distances.
ANGFA Co., Ltd., Mobit Co., Ltd., Artnature Inc., Delta Air Lines, Yoshimoto Creative Agency Co. Ltd., Dentsu Inc., runtomo.net, the Hotel Association of Northern Mariana Islands, Japan Saipan Travel Association, Department of Public Safety, Dept. of Lands and Natural Resources Div. of Parks and Recreation, Department of Public Works, Hawaiian Rock, Pacific Islands Club-Saipan, Northern Mariana Athletics, Mariana Resort & Spa, Aqua Resort Club, IT&E, Hyatt Regency Saipan, PDI, GrandVrio Resort, Tasi Tours, PMT, Fiesta Resort and Spa, Kanoa Resort, Saipan World Resort, Saipan Southern High School MYWAVE Club, Commonwealth Health Center Nursing Department, Kinpachi Restaurant, Bridge Capital LLC, KKMP, T Galleria, American Memorial Park, Saipan Mayor’s Office, CNMI Fire Department, and members of the MVA are the sponsors and supporters of the event.