Veloria: Absence of competition made it fun

Posted on Jan 26 2022

Sildrey Veloria dominated the men’s division of Run Saipan’s Splash & Dash in Lao Lao Bay last Saturday.

The 19-year-old freshman at Northern Marianas College said he’s glad that he could set the pace for a change due to the absence of some of the “heavy” hitters in the local running community.

“It was a lot of fun because the competition wasn’t that heavy. I got to go at my own pace and the trail was a lot of fun because it was my first time running it,” he told Saipan Tribune after running the 5K trail route in 24:45.

Asked about what he meant about the competition not being heavy, Veloria said: “Some of the fast runners wasn’t able to make it to the competition so that’s why I said it wasn’t that heavy.”

The fast runners Veloria probably were referring to were Keith Ketola, Shuji Kuroda, Kosuke Sato, and youth sensation Dev Bachani.

A check with Run Saipan president Edward Dela Cruz Jr. revealed that Ketola couldn’t make it due to prior commitments, Kuroda had work in the morning, and Sato didn’t do trail runs. Bachani did sign up but was a no-show during the event.

Jay-ar Equia Barrios finished second to Veloria in the men’s open with a time of 25:31, while Ronald Villafria wasn’t far behind in third place at 25:43.

Barrios said he enjoyed the Dash & Splash because it was different and it beats running in concrete. He added that the tough part of the course was its up-and-down terrain that included large holes.

“I haven’t been running a lot lately. In fact, this was just my fourth run of the year. I took it easy for a month,” he said in Filipino.

Villafria, for his part, said his unfamiliarity with the inaugural Dash & Splash course was the biggest challenge.

“It was hard to get a feel of the route because you don’t know when to speed up or slowdown. So, I just maintained my speed the whole time,” he also said in Filipino.

Among the women, top runner Evelyn Pangelinan, who came in at 27:56, said the Dash & Splash was a nice event to kick off the 2022 running calendar.

“It was a fun experience to start the year. My first time doing the Lao Lao trail. I normally do Beach Road, so a trail run was refreshing and the inclines were a bit of a challenge. Overall fun, because my running team from the [Christmas] Island Relay joined,” he said.

Save for a few brave souls who took a dip at East Bay, Pangelinan said she demurred out of fear.

“I was afraid to dive in. Perhaps another time.”

Rosemarie Chisato came in second in the women’s division with a time of 28:35.

She said she thoroughly enjoyed the Dash & Splash specially because her Run Saipan teammates were with her.

“It was a bit of a hard course because of the many inclines.”

Women’s third place winner Jessica Ortizo echoed Chisato when she said, “It was super fun. It’s just like running with friends and family.” Ortizo ran the race in 29:48.

Dela Cruz congratulated the winners and all the participants of the inaugural Dash & Splash. He volunteered that he was pleasantly surprised that not the usual suspects showed up in Run Saipan’s first running event of the year.

“I am not surprised with the Top 3 men and woman. When we decided on the race course I was thinking only the most dedicated runners will make the drive down to Lao Lao Bay to start the year with us with a tough trail race. This is a testament to all their hard work they have been putting into running since joining us last year. To see them get faster, excel, and grow is truly a privilege. Congratulations to all our runners for conquering Lao Lao Bay trail run.”

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