People from Japan have been coming to Saipan for the past 26 years to take part
in running events across the island and the successful introduction of the full
marathon has opened the door to the extreme long distance crowd as
Even locally, a crowd of hometown runners took the challenge of running the longest race of their lives when they strapped on their sneakers for a 42.2-kilometer jaunt to Saipan's poles.
A number of familiar faces returned to Saipan for the more manageable but daunting 10km and half-marathon runs over the weekend, and Japan's Sadaaki Saito was one of the returning visitors who took on the 21.1-km half marathon.
With a smile on his face Saito eagerly reunited with friends from
the previous Saipan races and exchanged stories from the past year with fellow runners during the registration and carbo-loading dinner at the American Memorial Park the night before the marathon.
An active runner and an English teacher in Japan, Saito traded in his lesson plan for a tank top and placed sixth overall to take the 30-39 age group with a time of 1:42:58.
While the impressive time was something that he will cherish, the opportunity to run among friends on a beautiful island mattered just as much to the jovial jogger.
It's no mystery that people enjoy the opportunity to live a healthy lifestyle on Saipan and Saito said that he is happy to do the same every year.
“I want to thank the entire staff who worked the whole race. We really enjoyed the race a lot and we would like to come back again and keep on trying the Saipan Marathon,” he said.
Saito said that he is definitely coming back in 2008 and said that he might challenge the full marathon during its third running on Saipan. Whether or not he tackles the full distance race, Saito will definitely be among friends.