Aside from top finishers Keith Ketola and Kate Leugers, a dozen age group winners also took home turkeys courtesy of Joeten Group of Companies for topping their respective age groups in last Thursday’s Mt. Tapochao Turkey Trot Run.
Quido Jambor and Kaylen Taffliger dominated the U12 division after reaching the 1,555-foot summit in 57:23 and 58:37, respectively.
Winning the U17 division were Samuel Zhu and Addalee Taffliger with times of 44:18 and 51:04.
Keith Longuski, meanwhile, headlined the men in the 30-39 age group (39:07) with Pacific Mini Games silver medalist Denise Myers doing the same for the women (48:07).
In the 40-49 age group, Travis Spaeth had no equal after trotting to Saipan’s highest summit in 55:50, while Rosemarie Chisato won the women’s division in 54:29.
Pastor Matthew Furan topped the men’s 50-59 in 53:37, while Kimiko McKagan was first among the women in the age group in 56:18.
In the over 60 category, Chong Nam Lee proved that age is only a number as the 64-year-old barefoot runner crossed the finish line in 53:29 to lead the men. Karen Buettner showed the way for the women after clocking in at 1:26.29.
Participants were all in agreement that the return of the Turkey Trot was a cause for celebration.
“The Turkey Trot climb up Tapochao was fun as always! The running community on island is wonderful, especially during this race. Everyone was so supportive, fellow runners, volunteers, and the [Northern Marianas Athletics] team were all full of encouragement. Starting the day with some physical activity always makes the afternoon feast a little sweeter,” said Myers.
Furan, for his part, didn’t even know that he won a whole turkey for his early morning jaunt.
“Thankful for the gift that was given. I don’t run for any personal reward other than health. I was not aware that there was a turkey giveaway for top finishers. Looking toward sharing this with others over Christmas,” he said.
“The Turkey Trot was a challenge but enjoyable. Pushing yourself to something that is hard and finishing it is a reward in itself. It is a lesson that we can do hard things if we try,” added Furan, who is the activities director of Run Saipan.
Angela Tafflinger, the mother of the U12 and U17 girls winners, said it was certainly a pleasant surprise that her daughters topped their age groups and won two turkeys along the way.
“Those turkeys are still at Joeten as we didn’t have the space for them in the freezer at the moment…The girls said that we should donate one to a family that could use it and only leave one for us.”