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Pacific Paradise: Tagaman
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Tuesday 18th May 2010


Tags  Darrelle Parker  |  Daz Parker  |  Emma Ruth Smith  |  Sam Gardner  |  Tagaman


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Sizzling Saipan Sports Festival - not for the faint-hearted….

The triathlon trio that is Xterra Saipan, Tagaman Triathlon and Xterra Guam together make up three weeks of on and off-road triathlons on Saipan and Guam; islands in the far-flung Marianas archipelago in the north-western Pacific. This racing festival transforms the islands into a triathlete's dream where track, jungle and ocean become the trampled terrain of the world's top triathletes. The races are the highlight of Sam Gardner's year as a pro triathlete, for reasons which go beyond his repeated victories. Emma Ruth Smith and Darrelle Parker, both previously crowned World Age-Group Xterra Champions, were enthused to step up to pro level by their mutual coach, Julie Dibens (the reigning world Xterra and 70.3 champion) and cut their teeth on these tropical island tracks; so they soon discovered what all the fuss was about…

Emma Ruth, Darelle and Sam have very kindly reported for us from all three races, and we'll be bringing you all three reports this week.

Yesterday we brought you Xterra Saipan courtesy of Emma Ruth Smith. Today, Darrelle 'Daz' Parker reports on Tagaman.


Darrelle Parker on Tagaman Road Triathlon

One week after Xterra Saipan I was to race the Tagaman event in Saipan, a 2km swim, 60km bike and 15km run.

Daz in GuamI needed to get hold of a bike as I only had my trusty MTB there. The locals are very supportive of the athletes and do their best to try and find bikes for all who want to race. I did have to do some research finding a bike, and my saviour was Daniel Lumar a local Doc in Saipan who kindly lent me have his steed for a few days prior to the race. It was a 'Litespeed', 10 years old, With the added bonus of some tri-bars.

It was nice to be back on the road bike again, I must say I feel more at home on it (especially on hills). I was looking forward to the race (post cold - though most of the other athletes had just the same symptoms. Some say it was an allergy to the Island, so Romeo the bike shop owner tells me). Romeo incidentally was my hereo with his 24-hour bike shop and all night opening hours!! Thanks Romeo for everything!

The race again was an early start and we were at the race venue at the PIC at 5 am, the fabulous host hotel. There was competition too in the pro field as 49 Korean triathletes came down at the last minute to race.

The swim was two laps of 1km, I was drafting a few Koreans and came out again just behind Renata Bucher (beginning to see a pattern here), and Shonny Vanlandigham drafting my feet. I was fast out of transition as finally I didn't do any faffing, I guess it was having more experience than with the MTB!

I saw Renata in front so decided to catch her. Shonny and I were riding together to catch her and on the descent we caught Renata by surprise, both us girls zooming past her whilst she napped. She woke up and came past and after a few minutes she put the power on!! I stayed with them for a few miles and they slowly edged away from me, I came to the first big climb and I realised I must have had a 23 gear ratio, nice, so had to grind my way up top. On the first out-and-back I saw Emma creeping up from behind just when my chain came off.. I stayed with her for about FIVE miles or so. I missed my Cannondale Slice and visualised it sitting on my turbo back in London - had to snap out of that one!

Daz at TagamanIn transition the bike was taken from us and we had a bag with our run kit inside as we had sit down on chairs to put them on…luxury!

The run was long and hot we were sweltering in the heat but the aid stations were numerous and ice cold sponges, water and Gatrorade a plenty. All those cheerful volunteers really helped push you forward. I knew I was 6th or 7th by then and had a bit of a gap to catch up but the money was only top six...

At the beginning of the run I was joined by a Korean girl who slid past. I caught her up and asked if we could work together on the run as she had a good pace on her so I reckoned that she would push me a bit more. I asked her questions but her English wasn't that great until she said "how old you?" I said "41" and she replied'ooooooohhhhwww I asked her "how old you?" "22". I replied, "Ahhhhhhh" then her coach went by on a scooter and shouted in Korean ‘Bangtsn$$$@@VVthj!!! or something. She then said "coach not happy I chat." We went on for a mile and then she collapsed - think she got cramp. Maybe my running isn't that bad after all?!

I actually enjoyed the race even though it was tough on the long run, but not as tough as any of the Xterra races! I finally finished seventh, out of the money, but I'll be back next year...


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