Dr. Lily Muldoon and Eason Tang were the fleetest afoot in the 2021 Northern Marianas Athletics Mt. Tapochao Virtual Run held from Thursday, Nov. 25, to Saturday, Nov. 27.
The organizing Northern Marianas Athletics said they didn’t want COVID-19 to cancel one of its longest running events, but like last year opted to do it virtually this Thanksgiving weekend.
In the 2021 edition of the event, unofficially called the Turkey Trot, California native Muldoon beat all comers by reaching the 1,555-foot peak in 44:46.
The 36-year-old Commonwealth Health Center physician ran the 6.754-kilometer course from Lower Base to Saipan’s highest summit last Thursday, Thanksgiving Day itself.
Tang, an 18-year-old student at Agape Christian School, came first in the men’s division after crossing the finish line in 45:47.
He said it was his first time to take part in the Turkey Trot, which he described as a very tough challenge and humbly added he was as surprised as anyone that he came in first among the men.
Eason said he took part in the Turkey Trot as training for Agape’s title defense in NMA’s Christmas Island Relay, where the school is gunning for its seventh straight championship.
Eason also dedicated his win to pastor Kok H. Pang. Last year, Eason was named the top track athlete of NMA after striking gold in the 100m, 200m, and 400m events. He also led Agape to first-place finishes in two relay events.
Coming in second in the women’s division was Audrey Christley with a time of 50:31, while completing the Top 3 was Gabbi Race who tackled the course in 51:51.
For the men, taking runner-up honors was Michael Deneven who clocked in at 45:49. He was followed by 12-year-old Daniel Yang, also of Agape, who checked in at 50:00.
NMA secretary general Robin Sapong congratulated all the winner and participants as well as the volunteers of this year’s virtual Turkey Trot.
“Given the current situation overall we are thankful to host a hybrid version of this year’s event. We are looking forward for an in-person event next year. Many thanks to our supporters, runners, and partners for making this year’s event a success,” he said.
He also gave a special shoutout to the Department of Public Safety for keeping runners of the Turkey Trot safe during this year’s staging, which saw Sapong and company man a water station just before the summit of Mount Tapochao last Thursday from 6am to 8am.
“We had a chance to greet the runners on the way up at aid station, but it’s not the same feeling being at the finish line.”
On a personal note, Sapong said he had an opportunity to take part in this year’s race because of its virtual nature.
“Actual positive side of being virtual was I got to run it on the last day,” he said.
He also reminded the Top 3 men and women finishers to redeem their frozen turkey prizes from NMA’s sponsor, Joeten Enterprises. He said pick up is at Joeten Hafa Adai Shopping Center in Garapan. Please check the supervisor on duty and bring a photo ID.