Tim Law ruled the men’s division for a winning Half Ironman debut, while Manami Iijima took the women’s crown in last Saturday’s 29th Tagaman 70.3 Triathlon.
The Hong Kong bet foiled Russian Aleksandr Dorovskikh’s bid for back-to-back titles as Law completed the lung-busting course in an unofficial time of 4:23:20. The Half Ironman race had a 1.9-kilometer swim from the waters off Kanoa Resort to Kilili Beach, a 90K bike (two loops from Kilili Beach to as far as Banzai Cliff up north and Koblerville down south), 21K run (two loops from Kilili Beach to Chamolinian Village in Garapan and back).
Law, who had an almost 10-minute lead against the deposed champion, said that the course and Saturday’s windy conditions were the biggest challenges he faced in his first attempt to complete a Half Ironman distance event.
“From the start of the race, in the swim leg, it was really a huge challenge for me. The current was strong and it was hard to see the first tank,” Law told Saipan Tribune in an interview a few minutes after crossing the finish line and enjoying the island’s fresh coconut juice.
“The bike, though most of it is flat road, was also not that easy because it was windy. Coming back to the run transition was easier, since there’s no more head wind. The run was pretty good. It was not that hot and at times it was cloudy, so that helped not only me but also the other competitors,” added the 24-year-old who competed for the first time on Saipan.
Law’s 4:23:20 time was faster than the one recorded by Kwang Hoon Lee of South Korea (4:46:19) in last year’s Ironman 70.3 Saipan, which has the same distance.
Dorovskikh, last year’s Tagaman champion when the event was held in 51.50, came in at 4:31:40, while South Korean Gyu Seo Choi finished third with a time of 4:43:38.
Iijima, on the other hand, trailed A Reum Jo and International Triathlon Union world ranked Dan Bi Hong after the swim, but caught up with the South Korean duo in the bike and further distanced herself in the run for a combined time of 4:34:40.
Iijima, who topped last year’s 51.50, was third overall behind Law and Dorovskikh and crossed the finish line just two minutes after the latter cut the tape.
“The race went well and I am very happy with my results. I have been training hard for this race for the past two months. I don’t know what would be my next race, but I’m sure I will be training harder to get better,” said the 25-year-old former Guam swimmer.
Hong, 321st in the ITU world rankings and was one of the four triathletes in the women’s field with international experience, came in almost 18 minutes behind Iijima with a time of 4:51:10, while Jo finished third after checking in at 4:53:39.
While Iijima and Law celebrated their wins last weekend, Japan’s Yu Shinozaki was treated at the Commonwealth Health Center after a car-bike collision near Mt. Carmel Cathedral.
Unofficial report that reached Saipan Tribune stated that Shinozaki, who was at that time leading the race, was heading toward Banzai Cliff after making the turn at Mobil Koblerville when the eight-time Niijima Triathlon champ was hit by a passing car. He was rushed to the hospital and received several stitches on his right leg, while there were no reports about the driver involved in the accident. Saipan Tribune tried to get additional information from the Department of Public Safety, but DPS public information officer Jackie Rae Shepard has yet to respond to an email at press time.
Credit: Saipan Tribune / Jon Perez