Rota held its first obstacle course race at the Tweaksberry Park/Small Island / West Harbor with the staging of the KONQER Enduro OCR Invitational Championship of Micronesia/Marianas last Sept. 14.
More than 30 brave souls registered online to be considered for the event, but due to the threat of typhoon approaching Japan and other countries, many international applicants had to withdraw for concerns at home or possibility of being grounded on Rota past their intended stay.
This being said, the show must go on rain or shine. The first-ever championship event included a 16K (10-mile) run, 3.8K swim (2.4-mile or 20 200-meter laps) and a 1.8K hike up Wedding Cake, plus 10 manmade obstacles at Small Island.
Although Rota saw its fair share of rain and thunder, strong gusts of wind and rough waters, the Enduro Brigade assembled for its first challenge without fear. The original swim route, which had athletes launching out of West Harbor and into the open water via the channel, had to be suspended at 9am, due to dangerous surf conditions in and around the channel entry/exit points. After a 30-minute intentional delay was called, swimmers were advised of a new alternate route and briefed on the heightened safety procedures. At 9:30am, event timer Jon Cramer officially kicked off the race with a shotgun start, and swimmers entered the water for the swim challenge.
Former Guam Olympian Chris Duenas took an early lead and maintained his dominance against all swimmers. Duenas was part of a multi-national three-person team which included runner Shauun Manglona of Saipan and obstacle ninja LD Ogo of Rota. Duenas’s lead gave Team Rise & Grind an early advantage as Team GIANT from Guam, fell victim to the former Olympian’s speedy performance. However, Elaine Kwok, the event’s only female competitor, did not get shaken. Knowing full well prior to the start that she would be in the water with a former Olympic swimmer, she did not try to out swim Duenas. She focused on her own time and performance knowing that her teammate Ryan Matienzo (one of Guam’s fastest road runners) would make up for the lost time during the run challenge. Brian Johnson (Guam /Solo) and Tyce Mister (Saipan/Solo) held their own in the water trailing only one lap behind Duenas. Both Johnson and Mister were not concerned about Duenas’ pace time as they were competing in the solo division. With $4,000.00 in prize money at stake, all athletes balanced their own safety and performance throughout the day.
Johnson went on to win the solo event, while Team GIANT prevailed in the relay.
“The weather and limited transportation available to Rota were major concerns, but MVA was very proactive and reduced issues related to air transportation, as much as humanly possible. As for the weather, no one can help that! We just got lucky during event day since the skies cleared and the seas calmed down a bit. The community here in Rota were just absolutely wonderful. Nothing goes absolutely perfect, but we KONQER on! I’m grateful to everyone that made this happen,” said KONQER Sports chief experience officer Kaz Endo.
KONQER ROTA K12/E1 was presented by the Marianas Visitors Authority, Bank of Guam, and APL and sponsored by IT&E, Go Pro, and Valentino Hotel.