XTERRA Saipan out as MVA shifts focus on other events

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Posted on Nov 15 2017

Austrian pro Carina Wassle, right, negotiates the rocky terrain of Saipan’s jungle ahead of Joe Miller of the Philippines during the trail run leg of last year’s XTERRA Saipan. (Jon Perez)

The Marianas Visitors Authority has decided to drop the XTERRA Saipan Championship from its 2018 sports calendar due to the high cost of keeping the event and the declining number of professional triathletes competing in the off-road race.

Next year would have been the 18th edition of the annual multisport race, which is considered the Crown Jewel of XTERRA and would have kicked off the Asia-Pacific Tour Elite series. XTERRA Saipan was first held in 2002.

MVA managing director Chris Concepcion told Saipan Tribune that their decision is sort of bad news/good news for the CNMI, as this would give them more time and resources to focus on promoting other international sporting events being held in the Commonwealth.

“The MVA has decided not to host XTERRA in 2018 due to many factors, including the decline in the number of participants from overseas and the cut in our budget for fiscal year 2018,” Concepcion said.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed an Fiscal Year 2018 budget allocation of $16,052,583 for MVA, but diverted $450,000 from that amount to purchase a fire truck for the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and another $69,435 to the Public School System’s tourism-related programs.

The MVA board also weighed on the declining number of pros in the last few years as another reason they decided to finally pull the plug on XTERRA Saipan. XTERRA Saipan, during its early years, has attracted more than 30 pros and over 200 off-island competitors.

Concepcion said that the CNMI’s southern island neighbor has also decided to discontinue XTERRA Guam, which used to take place a week after XTERRA Saipan. “It’s expensive to host large international sporting events.”

“We’ve seen XTERRA numbers drop significantly over the years and we note that Guam has also stopped hosting XTERRA. So this, along with the reduced budget for FY17, is the main reason for cutting XTERRA from our sporting portfolio,” he added.

Concepcion said MVA would now pour most of its resources on other sports events, such as the Saipan International Marathon—which is now certified by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races.

“On the positive side of things, we will be concentrating our efforts on the Saipan Marathon scheduled for March 2018 and Ironman 70.3 Saipan scheduled for April 2018, along with smaller sporting events throughout the year in Rota, Tinian, and Saipan.”

“With the Saipan Marathon now internationally recognized and certified by IAAF and AIMS, we will focus on expanding this event to attract more runners from around the world,” said Concepcion.

Ironman 70.3 Saipan is another event that they would promoto further with the branding behind it. “The branding behind this event is key as the Ironman is seen as the most prestigious triathlon event in the world, so the MVA will work with our partners to enhance its appeal and boost participant numbers from overseas.”

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Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez has been covering local and international sports events for more than 15 years. His sports writing career started when he joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, when he was in college.

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