MARSHALL Hoskins and Noriko Jim ruled Run Saipan's Underground 5K 21.6 Mangrove Run on Saturday.
The start/finish line was located near the U.S. troop store in Puerto Rico.
Run Saipan's Edward Dela Cruz said they designated Smiling Cove Marina's “fingers” route as the two turning points while the third and final turnaround led the runners to Micro Beach before they returned to the troop store area.
Running a race that had more turns compared to the usual route, Hoskins led the men's division with a finish time of 00:19:28. Seconds later, Mita Michiteru crossed the finish line with a time of 00:19:35, beating Shuji Kuroda who came in at 00:19:43 for a third place finish.
In the women's division, Noriko Jim crossed the finish line at 00:22:20 and was followed by Audrey Christley who clocked at 00:23:43 and Rosemarie Chisato who finished third with a time of 00:26:50.
“It wasn't just the turns but the people,” Hoskins said. “They were with me the majority of the race and it pressured me to go faster and I thought I wasn't going to be able to keep up. But I was pleasantly surprised at the end,” he added.
“There were a lot of loops so I had to go around people repping the Run Saipan uniform as well as a lot of people cheering due to the fishing derby, but I would like to think that they were cheering for us,” he said in jest.
The race location was chosen to raise awareness about mangroves which serve as a buffer between marine and terrestrial communities, protecting the shorelines from damaging winds, waves and floods, said Robin Sapong, Northern Marianas Athletics secretary general.
He added that they are now planning for an official mangrove 5k race that will be held annually.