Former Saipan resident Mieko Carey crossed the finish line smiling as usual, showing no signs of fatigue as she ruled the women’s pro division of the Hell of Marianas Century Cycle Race for the fifth time and third in a row.
Carey’s time of 3:33:28 in the 100-kilometer course bested the 3:49:14 of Guam’s Manami Iijima and 3:56:30 of Japan’s Chika Fukumoto. With her victory in last Saturday’s race, the Guam-based triathlete remains the winningest participant in the annual event, which she topped in 2008, 2010, 2014, and 2015. Mieko surpassed the record (3) of Australia’s Jodie Willett last year. The Land Down Under biker won the women’s pro division from 2011 to 2013, while her compatriot Amber Halliday prevailed in 2009, and Guam’s Susan Seay took the inaugural crown in 2007.
A few weeks ago, clinching her fifth division championship was a bit far fetched for Carey as she was not even sure she would make it to this year’s event due to health problems. The 37-year-old Carey was not feeling well the past two weeks and she has yet fully recovered from the punishing race in the 2016 XTERRA World Championships held in Maui late in October.
“I was not sure if I will be ready for the race. I really wanted to come to Saipan, which is my second home. I wanted to win and see my friends, who are always at the finish line cheering for me. I did everything to make my body ready, I did massage, blood test, and physical therapy. Fortunately, a miracle came on race day and I got my fifth title. I am very happy to win in front of my Saipan friends and I am thankful for their support,” the veteran triathlete said.
“I would also like to thank the NMI Cycling Federation for hosting a great event and to all the volunteers,” added Mieko, who finished No. 9 overall and was never threatened by her competitors.
Meanwhile, American Rachel Martin, Chinese-Taipei’s Wen Chun Hsu, and Saipan’s Tomomi Sato won their respective divisions in the road bike category.
Sato made it to the finish line at the 5:22:39 mark to top the 40 to 44 age group and beat Guam’s Tara Tydingco, who timed in at 5:32:05.
In the 30 to 39 age group, Martin lorded it over against six other participants. She clocked in at 4:36:14 and was the only biker in her division to complete the course under five hours. Runner-up Ayana Braxton and third placer Shawna Brennfleck submitted 5:06:24 and 5:08:14, respectively. Claire Devey (5:13:27), Shannon Foley (5:33:28), Kathy Ruszala (6:14:15), and Chinese-Taipei’s Yin Han Su (6:16:51) rounded out the finishers in the division, while the latter’s compatriot Hsu was the lone entry in the 20 to 29 division and registered 6:17:00.