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Saipan runners take on virtual race

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In this file photo, two female runners cruise along the Gov. Froilan C. Tenorio Beach Road Pathway, which will be the route for a virtual race this month. (Marianas Visitors Authority)

Runners on island somehow won’t miss a portion of the Saipan Marathon course after signing up for a virtual race this month.

Nearly 30 Saipan runners have registered for the Hafa Half Marathon, which the Guam Running Club is organizing and dedicating to its late member Marissa David Peroy. Northern Marianas Athletics secretary general Robin Sapong worked with GRC to allow Saipan runners to do the 21K race, while Edward Dela Cruz Jr., pooled participants for the event.

With the virtual race following the half marathon distance, Sapong and Dela Cruz suggested to do the run following the 21K course in the Saipan Marathon, which this year’s edition was originally scheduled for next month, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The half marathon course in the CNMI’s biggest running event starts and ends at the American Memorial Park with runners passing through Beach Road all the way to the Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio for the turnaround point. The actual 42K Saipan Marathon course also covered that route plus the road up to northern part (Banzai Cliff in Marpi) of the island.

From left, Josh Joson, Edward Dela Cruz Jr., and Shuji Kuroda pose for a photo before training at the Oleai Sports Complex track oval last week. (Contributed {Photo)

Besides following the 21K course of the Saipan Marathon, participants in the virtual race will use the “Ekiden” relay rules with the four runners on the team running the different stages along the route. Each runner will cover a distance of five kilometers, while the team will run the remaining one kilometer all the way to the start/finish line.

“We have seven teams right now (yesterday morning). Ekiden relay uses four runners per team and unlike the Christmas Island Relay, there are no repeats. Each runner has to run one segment which is five kilometers. The final 1K, the team runs together. We have a total of 28 runners that have already signed up,” Dela Cruz said.

Teams must complete the course within this month in one single run, but Dela Cruz said some of the Saipan runners have agreed to do the race on Feb. 14.

The virtual race’s course map. (Contributed Photo)

“I just asked people who want to do it the same day because it would be more fun seeing many runners as there are no scheduled strictly running races for the year yet. People that do not have a team yet will be raffled into teams to meet new runners and have fun running with new people they have never met. There is no race clock or physical timer. Every team will use one person’s cell phone or GPS watch as their timer and STRAVA app tracker to record their virtual results,” Dela Cruz added.

Dela Cruz and Sapong have signed up for the virtual event along with Gerald Galang, Shuji Kuroda, Kosuke Sato, Jack “Ketson” Kabiriel, Alyona Gersonde, Jalen Lucido, Michiteru Mita, Noriko Jim, Taro Goto, Josh Joson, Travis Spaeth, Eric Abragan, Darryll De Luna, Lydia Tan, Chong Nam Lee, and several students from Saipan International School.

Runners can still sign up until this Wednesday morning as the “raffle drawing” of team members will be done in the evening. Solo runners are also welcome to take on the course. Registration is $25 with finishers getting medals and certificate of completion.

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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