Veteran runner Kosuke Sato made up for last year’s debacle when he tripped on a wire by winning Run Saipan’s 2nd Annual Mangrove 5K last Saturday.
The 51-year-old general manager of Kingfisher Golf Links in Talafofo outpaced everyone and crossed the finish line at the Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park with a time of 19:36.
“Last year I fell down. This year I paid attention to everything especially the wire [near] the turnaround where I slowed down,” he said.
It wasn’t a wire-to-wire win for Sato though as the Saitama, Japan native paced himself in the early goings.
“First two miles Michael [Denevan] was in front of me but after that I went to first… Very good running conditions… Not busy as last year when the Mangrove Run coincided with a fishing derby,” he said
Last year, Sato was leading the pack when he tripped on a wire near the turnaround at the Micro Beach Pavilion. Curiously, he said none of his fellow runners helped him get up to his feet, including good friends and fellow Japanese Shuji Kuroda and Michiteru Mita.
During an interview after Saturday’s race, Sato was asked if he has message to Kuroda and Mita. He jokingly replied: “For Shuji, he should just concentrate in the ultra-marathons—the 50km and 100kms and events outside. And for coach Mita, he should just focus on coaching,” he said followed by a burst of laughter.
Denevan finished second in the men’s division after crossing the finish line in 20:06, while third place went to Michael Miller in 22:41.
Among the women, Akiko Miller was the fleetest afoot with a time of 21:02. She was followed closely by Kaithlyn Chavez in 21:11 while rounding out the Top 3 was Noriko Jim in 23:23.
Miller said she had a bit of a hard time during the Mangrove 5K as it involved a winding route.
“Very hard a lot of turns and the last 1K was so hard…It was fast-paced… Too fast Mr. Sato so I just took my time but Kaitlyn tried to catch me all the time and I was scared,” she said.
The Mangrove Run is named after the shrubs that line up the pathway along the run route past the Boating Safety Office toward what used to be the Puerto Rico dump site.
Unlike last year, participants lined up at the starting line all the way up near the toilets at the Gov. Eloy S. Inos Peace Park. They then proceeded to the Outer Cove Marina and then turned around at the Micro Beach pavilion before returning to the starting line.
Run Saipan president Edward Dela Cruz Jr. was stoked with the turnout for the 2nd Annual Mangrove 5K.
“I’m really happy how this turned out because last year we only had about 27 runners. Today we had about 71 runners and I’m really shocked because we started the registration very late. This to me is pretty amazing because we broke our non-special 5K record. Since we gave nothing like T-shirts and medals except our timing and free water obviously I’m surprised that we were able to come up with 71 runners at such late registration,” he said.
Dela Cruz said having 71 runners take part in last Saturday’s run was also surprising considering a lot of Run Saipan’s regular runners are off-island for summer vacation.