SaipanTribune.com - Wide open race in men's field
By Mark Rabago
Australia's Andrew Noble and Great Britain's Julie Dibens, inset, are among the elite triathletes to watch in this Saturday's 18th staging of the Tagaman Triathlon. (Jacqueline Hernandez) With three-time defending champion Olivier Marceau skipping this year's race, the men's field in the 18th Tagaman will be a wide open one with a number of athletes capable of winning the 2-kilometer swim, 60-km bike, and 15-km run triathlon.
According to Taga Inc. president Bill Sakovich, the triathletes to watch include Sam Gardner and Jim McConnell of Great Britain, Aussie Andrew Noble, Chang Jae Yeo of South Korea, and Masayuki Matsumaru of Japan.
Gardner and Noble finished second and third behind Marceau in last Saturday's XTERRA Saipan Championship. Gardner crossed the tape in 2:37:04, while Noble was just as good with a time of 2:39:56.
Sakovich, meanwhile, said Matsumaru is a veteran of the Marianas' longest running triathlon, while he has heard a lot about the checkered exploits of McConnell and Yeo from the triathlon elite that descended into Saipan for the 2007 Sportsfest.
In the women's race, last year's champion Jamie Whitmore will battle Great Britain's Julie Dibens for the 2007 diadem. Whitmore finished behind the Englishwomen in last weekend's XTERRA Saipan, crossing the finish line in 2:51:24 to Dibens' 2:48:57.
Like Marceau, 2007 XTERRA Saipan women's champion Renata Bucher has also opted to skip the 18th staging of the Tagaman in favor of the International Triathlon Union Mooloolaba BG Triathlon World Cup, which serves as a qualifier for the Swiss National Triathlon Team for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
Sakovich reminded the community that heavy bicycle traffic should be expected along Beach Road from Koblerville to Bird Island Lookout in Marpi from 6am to 9am on Saturday.
The longtime Saipan resident also cautioned motorists that the road from the Micro Beach pavilion to the Commonwealth Health Center will be off limits to any sort of traffic essentially until 12 noon.
Sakovich once again reminded pet owners to make sure their dogs are properly leashed, so as not to give participants worries during the race.
The 18th staging of the Tagaman triathlon starts at exactly 5:30am off the beach at the Pacific Islands Club with a 2-km swim. It would be followed by an arduous 60-km bike run that begins at PIC and goes north to Koblerville before proceeding south along Beach Road toward Bird Island, turning around before heading back to the American Memorial Park via the Grotto and Banzai Cliff.
At the Micro Beach transition point, participants would then dismount their bikes and don their running shoes for the final leg of the race.
The 15-km run will have participants running south on Beach Road along the main road bike path, turning around just after the Microl-Toyota intersection in Oleai and heading back to the AMP. After completing a loop through the AMP, runners will then head for the finish line at Micro Beach.
Main sponsors of the event are the Marianas Visitors Authority, Pacific Islands Club, Pacific Telecom, Inc., Duty Free Shoppers, Western Union, and Northwest Airlines. In addition, more than a handful of companies and government agencies are also acting as minor sponsors of the Tagaman.
In all, about 100 participants have signed up including several relay teams mostly from Saipan.
All participants competing in the Tagaman must sign up in the pre-registration on Friday, March 23, between 12pm and 5pm at the lobby of the PIC.
A course orientation will be held beachside at 5:30pm followed by the carbo party at 6pm. Final Registration will be on race day Saturday from 3:30am to 5am at the PIC.
A day after the Tagaman, two other sporting events will take place on Saipan as the Tagakids Triathlon and Sophia Walk gets underway on March 25. Tagakids will take place beginning 7am at the PIC beach, while the Sophia Walk will begin at 6:30am at the Chamolinian Cultural Village in Garapan
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