Keith Ketola and Tania Tan were crowned the fastest 1-mile runners on island after topping the Inaugural 1 Mile Road Race held last Friday from the World War II Tank Memorial along Quartermaster Road to just before the Oleai Beach Bar & Grill in Oleai.
Ketola, the 25-year-old law clerk of CNMI Supreme Court Associate Justice John A. Manglona, was the only runner to complete the run in under 5 minutes—4:45—to win the men’s division.
He was followed by Kosuke Sato after the general manager of Kingfisher Golf Links crossed the finish line in 5:22. Agape Christian School’s Eason Tang completed the Top 3 with a time of 5:25.
Ketola said overall the run was good, considering that he hasn’t really ran competitively since hanging up his running cleats shortly after finishing his studies at St. Olaf College, where he was a NCAA Division III runner.
“I graduated college in 2018 so that was kind of the end of my competitive racing career. Now, I just run for fun, to stay in shape, and stuff like this just to get out and see what’s going on.”
He said it was not a wire-to-wire win for him as he ran the early parts of the race with some company.
“I think the first 600m or so there was me and there were two other guys. I think one was from ACS. It was like kind of trying to feel it out thing as you don’t want to blow off [everything] right from the beginning because you’d never know if someone comes up to you right at the end. So I started conservatively and kind of worked from there,” said Ketola, who was part of Run Saipan Team B in the recent Christmas Island Relay.
Tan, meanwhile, celebrated her return to Saipan by finishing fourth overall and top among the women with a time of 5:49. She was followed by Akiko Miller in 6:24 with Ayano Braxton completing the women’s Top 3 with a time of 7:01.41.
The Fordham University junior said she was as surprised as everyone that she won the Inaugural 1 Mile Road Race.
“This is not my race I’m better at long distance races. So I just did this for fun. It was good but the road was really slippery because it’s been pouring rain,” said the 20-year-old.
Tan admitted that she didn’t really train for the 1-mile race.
“I didn’t really train for this race as this was my training for the coming season [of college track and field].”
And speaking of college track and field, Tan said she really enjoyed going back to competition last semester after most COVID-19 restrictions have been eased in the U.S. mainland.
“It was really fun. We got to travel a lot. We flew to Ohio. It’s always nice to travel as a team and bond, race, and have fun together,” she said.
Before boarding a flight back to the chilly East Coast on Thursday, Jan. 6, Tan said she plans to soak up all the tropical sunshine on Saipan.
“I’m very happy to be back on island for Christmas. The weather is so much nicer. I can go swim in the ocean whenever I want. It’s nice to be back!
Results of the 1 Mile Road Race’s 18-and-under division will be reported in tomorrow’s issue of Saipan Tribune.