Saipan Marathon to push through


A participant of last year’s Saipan Marathon gestures the victory sign while running along the Gov. Froilan Tenorio Beach Pathway. (Contributed Photo)

Organizers behind the Saipan Marathon 2020 are unperturbed by a pullout of runners for the March 14 event with Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Priscilla Iakopo assuring that the tourism body’s signature event will push through as planned.

“Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, runners have pulled out. However, we are still moving forward with the Saipan Marathon as we have a good number of runners participating,” she told Saipan Tribune.

Several reports allude to a pullout of runners from China following the suspension of flights from the country in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China.

Due to the directive from the Chinese government, Sichuan Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, and Hong Kong Express have all ceased flights to the islands.

Iakopo said with the CNMI not reporting any cases of coronavirus, she hopes that runners from other countries like Japan and Korea would register for the Saipan Marathon 2020,

“We are sharing that the Marianas is still a safe, coronavirus-free destination.”

A week after the Saipan Marathon 2020, the MVA will also stage the 2020 Tagaman Triathlon and it appears participation in the longest running sporting event in the western Pacific have also been affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Triathlon Association of the CNMI secretary general Ricky Castro confirms that such is the case in a social media message to Saipan Tribune.

“We have zero participants from China or Hong Kong,” he said.

So far, Castro said fortunately there have been no pullout of triathletes from Japan and Korea.

“Korea and Japan [triathletes] are still OK…I’m not sure in the coming weeks though.”

It would indeed be a pity if the Saipan Marathon 2020 would be marred by pullouts, as this year’s edition of the event was gearing up to be one of its finest with the addition of a 5K course.

Before the coronavirus outbreak erupted in China, a large contingent of casual runners were said to be flying to Saipan and take part in the 5K.

According to a release from MVA, the Saipan Marathon 2020 is certified by the International Association of Athletic Federations through the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. Registration for the event is now available via, with separate sites for International ( register?raceid=196894) and US/CNMI Residents (, as applicable.

The race will start and finish at American Memorial Park, starting at 4:30am for the full marathon, at 5:30am for the half marathon, at 5:45am for the 10K, and at 6am for the 5K. The cut-off time for the full marathon will be 8:30am at the half-way point. There is no cut-off time for the half marathon, 10K, or 5K.

All competitors are required to pick up their race packets on March 13, 2020, at American Memorial Park. Pickup times are 3-4pm for team/groups/tour groups/etc. and 4-6pm for individuals only.

For more information about the Saipan Marathon 2020, visit The Marianas Calendar at or contact MVA Community Projects Specialist Ed Diaz at 664-3210 or

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

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