Repeat winner Keith Longuski and first-timer Eleina Santos survived a windy finish to top yesterday’s 34th Annual Mt. Tapochao Turkey Trot Run.
Longuski was on the lead group with the equally competitive Whit Altizer of Saipan International School and Tinian High School’s Tyler Santos and managed to gain cushion in the last climb to complete the 4.2-mile race from Lower Base to the highest peak on Saipan in 38:08. It was Longuski third first place finish (overall) in the annual run after prevailing in 2015 (37:28) and last year (38:16).
“It gets harder year after year, as a I get older. Today, the wind was so strong on the way up here. But it’s (weather) better that Yutu,” the 34-year-old said.
Eleina seconded Longuski’s observation on the weather at the finish line, making it extra challenging for her to wrap up her first Turkey Trot Run.
“The strong wind in the last stretch was kind of pushing me back and slowed me down a bit. But, it was fun as I finally experienced doing this race,” said Eleina, who clocked in a 48:49 to take the first place honor in the women’s field.
She and Longuski each received turkey during the awards ceremony for the Northern Marianas Athletics-organized event. The same prize was given to the top finishers in other age groups.
Altizer was one of them, as he submitted 40:19 for second place overall and first in the men’s 40 to 49 division. Tyler was ranked third overall and first in the U17 division after timing in at 42:19.
Gabriel Tiu, Kubo Taro, and Jeff Race were the other top finishers in their respective age group. Race, who had the most Turkey Trot appearances among this year’s participants with his 20-plus races to Mt. Tapochao, ruled the 50 and over age group after coming in at No. 20 overall (out of nearly 100 runners) and posting 52:36. Taro earned the top honors in the 30 to 39 age group after recording 47:05, which was the fifth best time in the entire field. Tiu, on the other hand, got first place in the U12 division after registering 1:09:27.
In the women’s division, Mt. Carmel School’s Kaithlyn Chavez lorded it over anew in the U12 age group after breaking the one-hour barrier (59:15), while Tania Tan also had a repeat in the U17 division after timing in at 50:52 (third overall in the women’s). Completing the age group winners were Ayano Braxton, Antonina Banes, and Sakiko Eda. Braxton prevailed in the 30 to 39 division after logging 51:49, while Banes and Eda won in the 40 to 49 and 50 and over after tallying 1:05:12 and 49:43, respectively.
Meanwhile, NMA would like to thank Joeten for donating turkeys. The association also acknowledged Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, Hyatt Regency Saipan, Pacific Islands Club, IT&E, MARPAC/Budweiser, and DFS Saipan/T Galleria for donating raffle prizes.