In 1987, JM Guerrero, as the Managing Director of the Marianas Visitors Bureau had an idea of hosting a triathlon on Saipan to help promote the Northern Marianas as a sports and leisure destination. JM, along with member, Yoicho Matsumura and GM of PDI, or internationally as Kinki Nippon Tours, and Kintetsu International, were invited to attend a major Japanese triathlon in Miyakojima, as small Japanese island not far from Okinawa. Bill Sakovich and Wolf Mojica was also invited, and that was only the beginning. The event grew under the Marianas Visitors Bureau and in 1997, Taga Inc. (a non-profit organization) was formed to work closely with the Marianas Visitors Authority in taking responsibility of organizing the annual event, let by JM, Bill and Wolf Mojica.
Tagaman is the longest running race in the Western Pacific, drawing its name and inspiration from Tagaman, a legendary king of ancient Chamorros whose feats of strength included moving huge carved capstones known as Taga stones, a unique remnant of the original island people of the Marianas.
The first Tagaman Triathlon took place on Saipan, on March 12, 1988 and that was the beginning of this long running Tagaman Triathlon. KNT provided assistance with officials during the first several years, and even procured several new road bikes for the first Tagaman Triathletes from Saipan, as this was a new event to the islands. The sport and the event has grown from those days, topping out with 361 triathletes visiting Saipan in 1992, then leveling out to around 150-200 triathletes. However, the quality only got better with athletes coming from Australia, , the USA, numerous Asian countries and some from the Pacific islands.
The first winners were Ruben Chappins of Hawaii followed by Hideya Miyazuka, both multiple winners in future races, and Noriko Katusumata from Japan for the women, who also won several more times in the future.
The first local triathletes to participate were brand new to the sport, and Tagaman has grown from a handful of Saipan residents of all ages, including triathletes from neighboring islands of Tinian and Rota. In the beginning it was Pete Camacho, Mike Villagomez, Lino Fritz, Patrick Bryan, Frank Lifang, and Michael Newman completing their first triathlons.
Japanese triathletes have played a major part in the success of the event, first with assistance from KNT and ATC, and more recently KFC Triathlon Club and Kiyokazu Onishi. Australian triathletes started participating with the 2nd Tagaman and won both open divisions that year with John Anderson and Louise Bonham. Over the past several years, thanks to Scott Penny of Cairns, and Yu Hun Park of Korea, more triathletes from these areas participated. Both played important roles by competing, coaching and bringing numerous athletes from their respective countries. Mr. Yu Hun Park has the distinction of havng completed in the most Tagaman event. The neighboring island of Guam has been supportive throughout with participation to compete in both pro and age group divisions.
The first Tagaman swim was held off the Hafa Adai Beach Hotel in Garapan and the bike circled on Beach Road between Garapan and Chalan Kanoa. A few swims were held off the Saipan Diamond Hotel (currently World Resort), then to Pacific Islands Club in San Antonio. The run has always been first heading south, the turnaround in Oleai Village and head north along Beach Road and running through American Memorial Park pathways of trees and finishing adjacent to the crystal clear waters of Micro Beach. The course has changed over the years to make it more inviting, and now triathletes able to traverse the island from its souther tip at Pacific Islands Club (PIC), to the northern tip of Banzai Cliff and Bird Island
Todays course begins in the crystal water at the Minachom Atdao, in Susupe and transitions to one of the worlds most beautiful bike courses. Cyclist will cover the entire island, from the south to north, including stunning views of Suicide Cliff and Banzai lookout. Racers enjoy a flat run course along Saipan pathway with the views of the Western lagoon through the historic American Memorial Park.