Former Saipan resident Mamiko Berger continues to make waves in long distance races, this time clinching the women’s crown in the 13th Annual Sedona Marathon held last Friday in Sedona, Arizona.
Berger, who is now based in Bangkok, Thailand with husband Joshua, completed the full marathon in 3:37:26 to finish first among the more than 50 female runners. She registered a pace of 8:18 per kilometer, coming in at 10th overall among the 188 participants that survived the challenging 42.2-kilometer course. She was way ahead (17:41 lead) of closest pursuer Maria Ladd of Albuquerque, New Mexico (3:55:07). Mallory Ortego of La Palata, New Mexico came in at third with a time of 3:57:41, while Hewitt, Texas native Amy Johnson was fourth (4:01:11). Haley Walker was the other non-U.S. finisher in the Top 5 as the Canadian clocked in at 4:10:11.
Berger, even at an altitude of 4,326 feet, seemed to have not encountered any problems in the race. In an interview with journalaz.com, she said that she didn’t mind the altitude and just enjoyed the race and the view that came with it.
“I was told that I would have a problem with the altitude as well as the temperature, but once I started I just forgot about it and just looked at the scenery. It’s just breathtaking. It’s so beautiful. I could go back [and run it] one more time,” Berger was quoted as saying in the journalaz.com. story. Saipan Tribune sent a message to Berger yesterday to ask for her comments about her win, but has yet to respond at press time.
Berger, who shaved off 26 seconds from Stacey Mulligan’s winning time of 3:37:51 last year, added she did not take a different approach in the race that had Randi Simon as the inaugural winner in 2006 (3:36:38). Polly Campbell holds the record time (3:06:55) in the event.
Before moving to Thailand and competing in various races in Asia and the U.S., Berger represented the CNMI in numerous regional events. She won two gold medals in the 2010 Micronesian Games in Palau, ruling the 5,000 meter run (21:11.62) and 10K road race (46:09.40) when Koror hosted the quadrennial Games.
She then clocked in 1:42:26.67 to clinch the bronze medal in the half marathon event in the 2008 Oceania Athletics Championships hosted by Saipan. She finished behind Guam’s Marie Benito (1:35:20.83) and then NMI bet Mieko Carey (1:39:32.28).
Berger also competed in the 2014 Emerald Bay Marathon in California, placing eighth in the 40-49 age group and 15th overall with a time of 4:40:19.7. In the same year, she finished first in her age group and second overall in the California-Nevada Marathon (4:01:12).
In local races, Berger is a perennial contender, winning the Mt. Tapochau Turkey Trot Race a couple of occasions with the last one in 2015 after timing in at 41:52. She is also a six-time Saipan Marathon women’s champion, topping the race for the first time in 2008 (3:51:28). Berger holds the event’s record (3:09:49) when she ruled the 2012 edition of the race and broke the 3:10:03 mark (2010) of Japan’s Mayu Mochizuki. Her other Saipan Marathon wins were in 2009 and from 2014 to 2016.
Meanwhile, Adam Owens of Flagstaff, Arizona won the men’s crown with a time of 2:55:56 and a 6:43 per kilometer pace. The race, according to journalaz.com, attracted 2,543 participants from 46 states and five countries. The event also had half marathons and 10K and 5K runs.