No Saipan Marathon this year
The Marianas Visitors Authority has scrapped this year’s Saipan Marathon due to budgetary constraints.
While a media release from the CNMI tourism body announced that the signature event’s cancellation is caused by “budget adjustments delaying adequate planning time for a favorable season for international participation,” MVA acting managing director Judy Torres elaborated more on the decision.
“Due to our limited funding available for this fiscal year, coupled with prioritization of funds to increase overall visitor arrivals, MVA has made the difficult decision to cancel the Saipan Marathon this year,” she said in an email to Saipan Tribune.
Torres said because of the budget adjustment that was brought about by the inability of American Rescue Plans Act funds, the earliest MVA could now organize and promote the Saipan Marathon for visitors would be in the summer.
She, however, contended that the timing will be then off as the summer, “is both too hot for serious competitors and also unpredictable due to the rainy season.”
Torres then asked for the running community and stakeholders’ understanding as they had to make the tough decision to cancel the Saipan Marathon, which returned last year albeit just the half marathon, 10K, and 5K versions of the event.
“We realize this is a much anticipated sporting event for both international marathoners and our local runners, but at this time our resources must be devoted to obtaining the highest return on investment, with the goal of increasing government and private sector revenue. We are looking toward organizing the event for 2024,” she said.
Now three-time Women’s 10K Run winner Lily Muldoon was disappointed to learn that the Saipan Marathon is being canceled this year.
“As a runner and advocate for health in the CNMI, I support organized races that get community members inspired and out moving their bodies. The changing economic climate can lead to increasing stress and levels of anxiety. Exercise is an important stress management tool that is healthy for our bodies and our minds,” she said.
The medical director of the Division of Public Health at the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. said in lieu of the Saipan Marathon, she enjoined the running community to partake of other exercise ideas like Zumba, the local soccer league, discovering pickleball, and going for an evening walk with your family.
“Of course, Run Saipan is always hosting energizing races. Come check out our group doing one to two events per month!” she said.
Triathlon Association of the CNMI president Manny Sitchon said he can’t really blame the MVA for canceling the Saipan Marathon this year as you need a full six months to promote it overseas. He said having no budget also always derails everything.
Runner Matthew Furan couldn’t hide his frustration for having no Saipan Marathon this year.
“Any marathon takes months of preparation. With the anticipation of the island hosting a marathon, it was a goal I was working toward and prepared for. Sadly, this is just another event that loses out to the bad stewardship displayed on the island. Nevertheless, I run to better myself and will continue to do so,” he said.
Stephen Dame, who like Furan is a pastor of a local church, said he was really looking forward to the 2023 Saipan Marathon so he could check it off his bucket list as he recovers from a serious injury.
“I understand that the funds aren’t there for the marathon but wish they had attempted to get sponsors or something. I trained really hard up until I heard it was canceled and then backed off my training. I was never a threat to win or even place, but wanted to finish as one more milestone in my recovery from my back injury. Again, not so much for ‘look at what I’ve done’ but look at what God has brought me from. I stopped the training because at my age and with my injury, I am afraid I only have one shot at this.”
Rosemarie Chisato also felt frustrated by the cancellation, joking that a lot of her toenails have died due to training for the Saipan Marathon.
CNMI national athletics team mainstay Sildrey Veloria, for his part, said the 2023 edition of the event was supposed to be his chance for redemption.
“I was excited at first because the event was coming up. I did a bad job the last time, so I wanted to make up for it at the half marathon. But I guess I’ll have to wait until next year. I’ve been training consistently for the half marathon and the world’s cross country for about three months,” he said.