After the success of last Saturday’s KONQER Saipan and despite the announcement that Cape Air Express will stop its flights from Saipan to Rota and Guam to Rota next month, KONQER will push through with organizing an eco-adventure race on the island this summer.
The reason is personal, according to KONQER chief experience officer Kaz Endo, who reminisced about his memories of Rota.
“Rota and I have special roots. The first is being a young man playing golf at the Rota Resort Golf Course and looking around me, I fell in love with Rota right away. The second time was meeting a ‘Make-A-Wish’ girl named Miracle because I was documenting her story as a film maker. Miracle with her family and I went to Tokyo Disneyland and while on the conveyer belt to Disneyland from the parking lot where there were about 30,000 parked cars, she looked up and said ‘I’ve never seen that many cars’ which I answered with ‘welcome to Tokyo’,” he said.
“Although Miracle passed away, she lived six years longer than what she was expected because of her condition. Miracle and my first experience of going to an unspoiled and pristine place ties me to Rota and for us to be able to have an opportunity to bring KONQER eco-adventure race there will be unforgettable,” added.
Early this month, the CNMI received news from United Airlines that flights from Saipan-Rota and Guam-Rota via Cape Air Express will no longer be available after May 31, giving KONQER Rota logistics and planning a bit of a hurdle to face.
Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion, however, said that they are still interested in having KONQER in Rota despite of United Airlines’ announcemement.
“We will see and work on driving traffic to Rota for KONQER as soon as we figure out the possible date, other logistical information and we will make an announcement then… Star Marianas still have service flights from Saipan to Rota… In the meantime, the plan is to still have KONQER Rota,” he added.
KONQER president Kelli Wedd said Rota is a perfect place, calling it an ultimate playground.
“A lot of the excitement that we have for KONQER is for the man-made obstacles that really allow people to challenge themselves, but one of the best races that we’ve done are using the outdoors which is just the ultimate playground and Rota fits that category. I think highlighting a lot of the culture and a lot of the landscape of Rota is important,” she said
“We don’t want to go over there and tarnish what is so pristine and beautiful… Our whole mantra is obstacle through play because what is an obstacle course but a big playground for adults really. We just want people to get out, be active, and enjoy themselves at the same time,” she added.
Endo added KONQER documents the whole process of using your body to the fullest and enjoying the environment that you are in.
“KONQER is about documenting the process because nowadays if you don’t film it, it never happened. By filming it, it’s out on the internet, more people get to experience it, and hopefully more people come through it… Rota is a beautiful place and it needs to be seen more,” he said.
“We don’t control the transportation, we don’t control the politics, but what we can control is the presentation of the experience. It’s opening up Rota where you can’t just play golf, explore nature, and go on a trail run that’s really fantastic!” Endo added
Endo said that after Saipan and Rota, Tinian is also on the list of places for KONQER to conquer, as Tinian came up when the team got invited to do something there and see the possibility of organizing an obstacle race.
“What I really love to do is to make it a CNMI competition, allotting three days such as one day on Saipan, one day on Tinian, and then Rota because at the end of the day, KONQER is not about trophies and winning. It’s really about just doing it, getting through and feeling accomplished because if you can accomplish a lot of things you normally wouldn’t do, then everything else becomes easy. We want people to take risks and say if you can do this basic thing… then there’s nothing that you cannot conquer,” he added.