Saipan Marathon returnee triumphs


Japanese Yasutaka Monde runs along Beach Road as he heads back to the start/finish line of last Saturday’s 2020 Saipan Marathon. (Roselyn B. Monroyo)

A returning champion topped last Saturday’s 2020 Saipan Marathon.

Yasutaka Monde, who won in the 50K race in the 2015 edition of Marianas Visitors Authority’s signature event, completed the 41.195K course in 2:33:12, surpassing the record (2:38:32) of last year’s winner Yoshiyuko Ono. The 41-year-old Ono also did last Saturday’s race, but dropped to second place overall after clocking in at 2:40:39.

Rounding out the Top 6 overall finishers in the men’s division of the marathon event that started and ended at the American Memorial Park with turnaround points at Banzai Cliff in Marpi up north and Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio down south were Guam’s Ryan Matienzo (2:43:05) and Japan’s Mamoru Nagata (2:46:06), Takashi Hanashima (2:51:17), and Masayuki Abe (2:52:16).

In the women’s division, Tomomi Nakajima, also from Japan, reached the finish line first, as she checked in at the 2:54:41 mark and was the lone runner to break the three-hour barrier.

Joining Hanashima, the champion of Laguna Phuket Marathon in Thailand last year, in the Top 6 overall in the women’s division were her compatriot Naomi Washizu (3:13:39), Saipan’s Heather Taylor (3:24:00), and Japan’s Maki Narita (3:30:05), Ruri Wakamatsu (3:31:56), and Yuko Muto (3:37:50).

In the half marathon, Guam’s Manami IIjima, who is preparing for this weekend’s Tagaman Triathlon, reigned supreme in the women’s field after recording 1:28:20—more than three minutes ahead of Japan’s Marina Matsuura (1:31:57).

Two Saipan runners—Akiko Miller (1:49:33) and Kimiko McKagan (1:57:09—made it to the Top 6 overall, while Heather Popa (1:57:35) of the U.S. and Keiko Nakakarumai (1:58:59) of Japan were also on the elite list.

In the men’s half marathon Japanese Kazuaki Okamoto outsprinted compatriot Yuki Uchiyama to the finish line, as the former clocked in at 1:14:16 against the latter’s 1:14:32.

Completing the Top 6 in the men’s half marathon race that also started and ended at the AMP with a turnaround point at PIC were Guam’s Derek Mendell (1:17:33), Japan’s Shintaro Natsume (1:18:20) and Samuel Smith (1:25:08), and Peter Blas (1:41:46) of the U.S.

Roselyn Monroyo | Reporter
Roselyn Monroyo is the sports reporter of Saipan Tribune. She has been covering sports competitions for more than two decades. She is a basketball fan and learned to write baseball and football stories when she came to Saipan in 2005.

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