Matienzo, Muldoon top Half Marathon


Ryan Matienzo, right, and the Dr. Lily Muldoon show off the No. 1 and victory signs, respectively, at the finish line near the Hyatt Regency Saipan near the entrance to the Micro Beach Pavilion after topping 2022 Saipan Half Marathon last Saturday. (MARK RABAGO)

Guam runner Ryan Matienzo and the CNMI’s very own Dr. Lily Muldoon won the 2022 Saipan Half Marathon with splendid runs last Saturday that saw over 80 participants tackle the route from Hyatt Regency Saipan to Pacific Islands Club Saipan and back.

The 37-year-old Matienzo made short work of the 21-kilometer course after crossing the finish line just before the entrance to the Micro Beach Pavilion in 1:119:01, which was 18:07 faster than runner-up Kosuke Sato. The Kingfisher Golf Links general manager finished the race in 1:37:09. Completing the Top 3 was Daniel Stutzman in 1:50:24.

It was the third time Matienzo took part in the event, although in the previous instances he took on the full Saipan Marathon in 2019 and 2020. The latter he finished third overall. The organizing Marianas Visitors Authority, with help from Northern Marianas Athletics, however, didn’t offer the 42-km event this year citing logistical challenges brought about by COVID-19. The event, part of the so-called “Festival of Runs,” was altogether shelved in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Matienzo, who grew up in Lipa City, Batangas in the Philippines before moving to Guam, said the results of the Half Marathon was a mixed bag for him.

“It’s always an honor to finish first overall. But I was trying to break 1:17 and today it was a little off-weather and there’s no one to race so it was hard to push yourself… The course was really flat and I like more of the up-and-down course because it’s more challenging… But I really love running here because of the way the race is set up and because of the community as everyone’s very welcoming here.”

The Nissan Guam auto technician planed in from the U.S. territory a day before the race and actually only had three weeks to train for the Saipan Half Marathon.

“I was training for triathlon and I was supposed to race the national championships in Oceania. I won the 2021 national championships and I focused too much on cycling and then three weeks later they said the Saipan Marathon is happening. So, I couldn’t make the national championships in Oceania because I didn’t have enough time to take off and financially it’s very expensive to go there. I had three weeks to adjust my training to running. It’s almost everyday training but I didn’t make it to all 21 days because I had to throw in some rest days and recovery,” he said.

Matienzo dedicated his win in the Saipan Half Marathon to the people of Guam and to all his sponsors, namely Community First Federal Credit Union, Hornet Sports, RunGuam, and Nissan Guam.

Muldoon, for her part, completed the half marathon in 1:35:15, which was just 2:35 ahead of second placer Akiko Miller, who crossed the finish line in 1:37:50. Jenny Chhea came in third in 1:58:45.

The 37-year-old Department of Public Health director and Commonwealth Health Center Emergency Department physician said the race was amazing and gave kudos to organizers on how well it was coordinated.

“The energy at the finish line was so unbelievable! I did two long runs after the 10K Women’s Run. I did a 14-mile and a 13-mile run and then tapered off as I took the last couple of days off just to rest my legs and I think it paid off,” she said.

Muldoon admitted that she tried to give chase to Matienzo, but simply couldn’t keep up with him.

“I was trying to find someone in the course I could pace with. I feel much better when I can run next to somebody. I’d like to chat a little bit but I couldn’t catch him as he just went further and further away. If I tried to stay with him I’d be dead by the turnaround,” she said.

The California native is dedicating her triumph in the 2022 Saipan Half Marathon to the staff of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp.

“I dedicate this race today to all the staff at the CHCC because I’ve been riding high this week when we dipped into zero hospitalizations for COVID at our hospital. I feel we really turned a corner here and I was thinking on this run of how proud I am of those staff who have gone above and beyond to take care of patients—pediatricians, OBGYNS, and all these people trying everything just to keep the CNMI safe and we did it! I’m excited also to see everyone taking off their masks. Officers outside were smiling I could see their smiles. So, we’ve got to celebrate as it’s been a really good week.”

Muldoon also said during the pandemic it was pretty much only running that continued as other sports were shut down and that’s a big credit to Run Saipan.

“[The return of the Saipan Half Marathon] was a breakthrough. It’s really great to see a lot of people coming out, feeling comfortable, and giving each other hi-fives. But the one sport that really endured during this COVID-19 time has been running. It’s been Run Saipan first doing virtual races saying we still can run, we have to keep running, it doesn’t matter if there’s a pandemic happening we can be safe, we can run, and we can support each other. I think it’s because they kept their momentum during the pandemic that we’re able to have an event like this,” she said.

Results of the 10K and 5K runs of the 2022 edition of the Saipan Marathon as well as the age group winners of all three races will be reported in the coming issues of Saipan Tribune.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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