Mieko guns for back-to-back titles

Mieko Carey heads to the course during the swim leg of last month’s XTERRA Philippines in Albay. Carey will be back on Saipan for this weekend’s Tagaman Triatllon. (Contributed Photo)

Mieko Carey heads to the course during the swim leg of last month’s XTERRA Philippines in Albay. Carey will be back on Saipan for this weekend’s Tagaman Triatllon. (Contributed Photo)

Former Saipan triathlete Mieko Carey joined the short list of pros that will compete in this Saturday’s 2016 Tagaman Triathlon.

“Yes, I am going to race Tagaman. I am looking forward to going back to my second home. I am arriving there this Thursday,” said Carey, who will be out to defend her women’s title against Switzerland’s Renata Bucher and Australia’s Belinda Hadden.

Carey topped last year’s women’s race after completing the Half Ironman course in 4:48.15. She was the lone triathlete in her field to make it to the finish line under the five-hour mark as the runner-up Bucher posted 5:15:54 and Hadden registered a fourth-best 5:33:02. United Kingdom’s Daz Parker (5:18:59) and Saipan’s very own Kimiko McKagan (6:10:46) were ranked third and sixth, respectively, and will be missing this year’s race along with United Kingdom’s Jacqui Slack and Austria’s Carina Wasle.

The now Guam-based Carey is slightly favored to get her second straight Half Ironman title in Tagaman due to her familiarity with the course. However, she does not want to be overconfident, as she knows her competitors are well-prepared for this weekend’s race.

“Half Ironman distance is always a challenge, mentally and physically, especially under the Saipan weather. I hope I can survive and do my race,” said Carey, whose recent competition was last month’s XTERRA Philippines where she finished third behind Elizabeth Orchard and Slack.

“I did not get the results that I wanted in XTERRA Philippines last month. I trained hard after I came back so hopefully I am ready,” the 37-yeard-old pro said.

Though this year’s pro field has a short list, Carey is happy that more locals are competing in Tagaman. As of yesterday, 123 have signed up for the event with majority of them based on Saipan. Guam, Japan, and Korea also have a couple of entries with the latter having the lone pro in the men’s field in Kaon Cho. The Olympic distance course (1.5K swim, 40K bike, and 10K run) has drawn the most triathletes with about 100, while the Half Ironman division (1.9K swim, 90K bike, and 21.1K run) has lured Korean and Japanese age group participants.

“I saw more than 100 athletes racing this year in Tagaman. It is always very nice to have many athletes, especially local people. I thanked MVA which keeps organizing this event and Pivot,” Carey said. “I also would like to thank Tyce (Mister) and his family for letting me stay with them and Mamiko (Berger) for picking up my bike,” the Guam pro added.

Meanwhile, T Galleria and DFS Saipan are again supporting the Saipan Sportsfest, which features this weekend’s Tagaman and the XTERRA Saipan Championship on March 12.

“Year after year, T Galleria has supported Marianas Visitors Authority and its sports tourism efforts,” said race director Eric Tydingco in a press release sent to Saipan Tribune. “We are extremely fortunate to have such a great partnership with the entire DFS team to make the Sportsfest a fantastic event.”

According to Tydingco, members of the DFS team will be seen during both events as race participants, volunteers, and course marshals.

“We could not be prouder to once again sponsor both the Tagaman and XTERRA triathlons,” DFS Saipan president Marian Aldan-Pierce said. “It’s truly rewarding to work alongside MVA to continue building the legacy of Saipan Sportsfest, contributing our efforts to share Saipan’s local culture and community with these phenomenal athletes.”

For more information on Saipan Sportsfest, visit saipansportsfest.com.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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