Japan’s Abe Masa-yuki made it back-to-back as he finished first in the longest race in last Saturday’s 2017 Saipan Marathon.
The 32-year old runner completed the grueling 50K race in 3:24:03, nearly breaking the course record of compatriot Yasutaka Monde, who clocked in at 3:23:01 in 2015. Masayuki’s time was the second best since Saipan Marathon held the 50K event in 2012 and though he failed to surpass Monde’s mark, the former shattered his own record last year (3:39:22).
Masayuki reached the finish line at the Micro Beach more than 10 minutes ahead of Koki Kawauchi, who submitted 3:34:13. It was an all-Japanese show for the Top 6 overall rankings in the men’s 50K with Kazuyuki Meutsuri coming in at third place with his 3:45:32 and followed by Shinji Takahama (4:02:31), Yutaka Aoki (4:12:36), and Taro Kubo (4:37:07). Masayuki and the more than 30 runners, including a newly-wed dressed in gown and tuxedo, left the starting line at 4:30am. They headed north up to near the Last Command Post before going to Capitol Hill (before turning to the street going to Mt. Tapochao climb) and then down to Pacific Islands Club and back to the start/finish line.
Meanwhile, in the women’s division, Kasumi Takahama crushed the course record, which former Saipan-based runner Mamiko Berger held, after the Japanese timed in at 4:02:50 in last weekend’s competition. Berger’s mark was 4:04:14 during the 2014 edition of the race.
Takahama was the runaway winner in her division as second placer Yasuko Miyazaki made it to the finish line at the 4:25:50. Debbie Tai was the third finisher in the women’s division to break the five-hour barrier with her 4:54:00, while Yuko Matai (5:00:08), Kaori Marushima (5:15:09), and Yuko Fujimoto (5:28:08) rounded out the Top 6 overall finishers in the division.
In the age group categories, Agape Christian School’s Caleb Wang was the fastest as he clocked in at 4:49:20 to rule the men’s 15 to 19 division. Other first place finishers were 20 to 29’s Taro Aikawa (5:33:02), 30 to 39’s Fuji Takafumi (5:05:03), 40 to 49’s Kiyohiko Taniguchi (4:49:55), 50 to 59’s Yoshihiro Narui (4:56:55), and 69-year-old Masaharu Okijo (5:27:13) in the over 60 age group. In the women’s division, the top finishers were 30 to 39’s Sachie Nohara (6:48:41), 40 to 49’s Maki Nishimura (6:19:09), and 50 to 59’s Rika Katsuki (6:42:35)
King-Hinds leads full marathon finishers
Tinian’s Kimberly King-Hinds ruled the women’s full marathon race after posting 3:56:32.
She was the lone female runner to complete the 42.195K event under four hours, as runner-up Kayoko Ozeki of Japan timed in at 4:10:08. Saipan’s Jennifer Choi (4:16:09) and Sakiko Eda (4:48:46) and Japan’s Yoshiko Yamamori (4:27:32) and Asami Hejima (4:31:37) rounded out the Top 6.
In the men’s field, Japan’s Seiya Shimozawa logged 2:44:28 to take the top spot against Korea’s Jinwan Kim (2:57:16), compatriot Yuki Yokosawa (3:03:32) and Saipan’s Ronald Villafria (3:50:51), Joel Phair (3:55:54), and Taro Goto (4:02:51).
In the age group categories, barefoot runner Chang Whan Jang was the first finisher in the men’s over 60, as the 64-year-old Saipan resident checked in at the 4:34:53. Agape Christian School’s Kaiping Wang won the men’s15 to 19 division with his 4:21:30, while other top finishers were 20 to 29’s Toru Kikuchi (4:36:08), 30 to 39’s Erik Stranava (4:05:06), 40 to 49’s Toshiaki Kurowa (4:18:40), and 50 to 59’s Edmundo Bata (4:22:59).
In the women’s division age groups, the champions were 15 to 19’s Tianbo Zhang (6:45:49), 20 to 29’s Miasa Ando (5:28:23), 30 to 39’s Qi Wang (5:24:51), and over 60’s Ayako Yoshimura (5:51:19).
Marathon runners went to as far as the turn near the Last Command Post in Marpi and headed south to PIC before returning to Micro Beach for the finish.