Lily Muldoon and Christian Villacrusis topped the first of a series of tryouts for the CNMI National Triathlon Team that will represent the Commonwealth in the 2022 Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games last Saturday in Marpi.
Muldoon, a doctor at the Commonwealth Health Center, tackled the 750m swim in the waters off Paupau Beach, the 20-kilometer bike race from Paupau to Seafix to Banzai Cliff and Paupau, and 5km run from Paupau to the entrance of the FEBC compound and back in 1:14.49 to finish first overall.
“What an amazing race it felt so good to be out there today and see so many competitors. I felt really good in the swim, the bike, and run. It was interesting to do a sprint because it’s a shorter race than I’m used to so I felt like I should try to do sprinting the whole time and it worked out,” said the 36-year-old native of Colorado.
She said she’s been training for triathlon the past two years now and trailed Villacrusis for most of the race until she overtook the youngster just right after the turnaround of the run.
“I couldn’t see him the entire bike race. I didn’t know how far from me he was and then as we got into the long stretch in the run I could see him in the distance and I could tell if I kept a strong pace I could catch him,” she said.
Kaithlyn Chavez came in second to Muldoon in the women’s category after the multi-sport wunderkind crossed the finish line in 1:22.48. Tania Tan, a member of the Fordham University track and field team, rounded out the women’s Top 3 with a time of 1:23.16.
Villacrusis, for his part, finished second overall and first among men with a time of 1:18.33. The 21-year-old student from George Fox University in Oregon hopes his first and last tryout would be enough to earn him a spot in the Commonwealth’s triathlon team for next year’s Mini Games.
“I didn’t really do a lot of training so I just came here and try to do my best. I’m glad I placed and hopefully I could qualify for next year’s Mini Games. I’m about to leave this Saturday [for college] so there’s not a chance to take part in the next tryouts. Hopefully this performance would be good enough to qualify,” he said.
Villacrusis, who also represented the CNMI in a triathlon in the Philippines in 2017, gave kudos to Muldoon for beating him after he had what seemed like a safe lead after the bike split.
“She’s a superfast runner. Great job. I wish I trained more for the run as well. Hopefully I’ll get to represent the CNMI next year. That will be awesome!”
Swimming Center Tsunami Saipan member Isaiah Aleksenko was second in the men’s division with a time of 1:22.46 but what’s impressive was the 15-year-old Marianas High School student did so with an ill-fitting road bike and just socks to negotiate the 5-kilometer stretch of asphalt and concrete in the run split.
When asked if would’ve beaten Villacrusis if he had the proper equipment, Aleksenko remained humble. “Honestly, probably not even if I had running shoes and a larger bike. I don’t think I would catch up because he already started the bike first and he was probably past Kensington [Hotel] when I started the bike because his transition was very fast after the swimming part. He is a very talented guy, and tries his best no matter what.”
MHS teacher and former Saipan Swim Club coach Jacoby Winkfield finished third among men with a time of 1:31.17. A total of nine women and eight men took part in the tryouts. Results of the Taga Kids Triathlon, which was held immediately after the tryouts, will be published in tomorrow’s edition of the Saipan Tribune.
Triathlon Association of the CNMI organized the Mini Games tryouts and the Taga Kids Triathlon, which were in turn sponsored by Bridge Capital LLC and Brabu Pharmacy & Wellness Center.