Veteran runner Kensuke Sato and Saipan International School’s Tiana Cabrera posted the fastest overall times in the 3,000m event that was held last Friday at the start of Northern Marianas Athletics’ Track and Field Open Meet at the Oleai Sports Complex.
Sato topped the men’s 50-and-over with a time of 11:20.60 to beat open top-notcher Ken Song and open runner-up Edward Dela Cruz, who crossed the finish line in 11:48.80 and 11:56.18, respectively.
The general manager of Kingfisher Golf Links said winning the 3,000m event was sort of redemption for him after his accidental fall in the Run Saipan’s Underground 5K 21.6 “Mangrove Run” last July 10 that cost him a Top 3 finish.
“This was a make-up run. There was a rope and I didn’t see it [during the Mangrove Run]. I was really going fast and there was a rope. Shuji [Kuroda], Marshall [Hoskins], and [Michiteru] Mita, and me were all running together in the last 100m before my accident,” said Sato.
The avid runner said he didn’t let his disappointment in the Mangrove Run linger and he just practiced some more after that.
“Good, good run now. After [the accident] I started practicing more. Fortunate to have no accidents this time. I like a flat course like this,” he added.
Third place in the men’s open went to Jalen Lucido who ran a 13:35.70 with Saimon Necessito at fourth with a time of 19:56.07. Sildrey Velorio won the men’s 18-and-under with a time of 12:29.60, while SIS headmaster Dr. Ron Snyder topped the men’s 55-59 age group at 14:39.42. Chong Nam Lee was first in the men’s 60-and-over at 13:38.21.
Cabrera, for her part, was the fastest woman and topped the 18-and-under as well after cutting the tape in 12:45.68. She was followed by women’s open winner Gabrielle Race and women’s open second placer Denise Myers with times of 12:58.98 and 13:03.46, respectively. Anika Snyder came in third in the women’s open division at 15:01.07. Juanita Fajardo topped the women’s 60-and-over with a time of 19:58.38.
The SIS student said she liked how she performed in the 3,000m. “I was actually doing well. I thought I was going to die but through all my training in the summer I think I really killed it. I wanted to keep up with the fast runners but they were just way too fast. It was good warmup for tomorrow (Saturday). I can’t wait for the 800m,” she said.
Aside from the Friday’s 3,000m run, NMA also held events in the 100m, 200m, 800m, javelin, and discus last Saturday, which results will be published in the next issues of the Saipan Tribune.
NMA secretary general Robin Sapong said he’s just happy that athletics is back in the sports calendar after more than a year of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a way to bring back the running community. We’ve been away for more than a year. So it’s good to be back for the community and of course the athletes trying to get a spot for 2022 when we’re hosting the Mini Games,” he said.
Sapong, who is also the president of the Oceania Athletics Association, said the 3,000m kind of served as a warmup for runners who will be taking part in the 800m on Saturday and also get them used to actual competition where races go back-to-back days.
“Today we just did the 3,000m because we do have 800m tomorrow so most of these guys running today likely they’ll come out tomorrow and run the 800m. That is the reason we had to do this as a sort of warmup. Most events are like this you do the 3,000m and the next day you might do the finals. We need to ensure our athletes are used to this because most events have two- or three-day programs so by doing this it’s kind of great for the athletes to learn from this.”