Rota mayor excited for Mini Games triathlon

Ocular inspection of the triathlon site for next year’s Mini Games in Rota.

From left, Triathlon Association of the CNMI president Manny Sitchon, Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta, Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig, Rota Municipal Council chair Jonavan Lizama, and TRAC secretary general Ricky Castro after their meeting last week following an ocular inspection of the triathlon site for next year’s Mini Games. (CONTRIBUTED PHOTO)

Triathlon Association of the CNMI president Manny Sitchon and secretary general Ricky Castro joined Pacific Mini Games Organizing Committee CEO Vicente “Ben” Babauta during an ocular inspection of Rota last week.

The southernmost chain of the Northern Mariana Islands will host the triathlon event of next year’s Northern Marianas Pacific Mini Games. During the visit, Babauta and company also made a courtesy call to Rota Mayor Efraim Atalig. Also in attendance during the meeting was Rota Municipal Council chair Jonovan Lizama.

“We gave them the overall update of the Pacific Mini Games. Triathlon will be on Rota and Mayor Efraim Atalig is quite excited. He’s getting Rota ready in terms of sprucing up the key landmarks and obviously the area that will be facilitating the event, the West Harbor, Roadside, and the Rota Roundhouse,” said Babauta.

Another good news is refurbishing of the Rota Roundhouse is finally underway with the selection of a contractor.

“There’s actually already a contractor for the repairs needed for the Rota Roundhouse. I was assured it will be renovated and repairs will be done in time for the Mini Games. I believe construction will begin in January and it’s expected to be completed by April. That’s good news for us because we want to centralize everything there at the Roundhouse which is the transition area and the main hub for triathlon,” said Babauta.

Aside from meeting with Atalig and Lizama, Babauta, Sitchon, and Babauta also inspected the swim and run routes

“We did survey the run and the bike side and any key logistic that we might need,” he said.

All three personally tested the 10K run course but Babauta begged off from doing the swim.

“We did the 10K and Manny and Ricky tested the West Harbor and they’re quite excited and they said it was really clean, clear, and really calm,” he said.

Asked why he didn’t join Sitchon and Castro in the swim, Babauta’s witty reply was: “No, this Chamorro don’t swim!”

Overall, the team was pretty happy they were able to physically inspect the triathlon route.

“It’s good that we did a dry run. We know what’s going on and what’s going to be needed when the swim is done. It’s great that the two TRAC officials did the dry run of the swim. There’s actually a certain area in the ramp that we may need brushing up because it’s a bit slippery in terms of cutting back up to the bike transition,” he said.

Babauta, Sitchon, and Castro also sat down with the managers of Valentino Hotel, Coral Garden Hotel, and Bay View Hotel to see what the island offers in terms of accommodations for the Mini Games triathletes and officials next year.

“We’re very excited to secure the rooms for our athletes next year. We also met with a couple of catering companies. I think commerce on the island is excited as the organizing committee will spend on accommodations, transportation, and food and beverage during the triathlon event of the Mini Games. It will boost economic activity on Rota for sure,” added Babauta.

TRAC and Babauta are expected back on Rota next February where they are expected to meet with Atalig’s Cabinet members to finalize all the details of the triathlon event and meet the point person of each of the departments that will help facilitate this important sporting event.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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