Samoa’s Young wins 1st organized marathon in American Samoa
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — South Pacific Watersports (SPW) Fitness hosted the 2023 American Samoa Marathon & Half Marathon last week, Wednesday, July 12, 2023, where more than 30 runners came from off-island to compete, according to SPW Fitness and Race coordinator Paula Stevenson McDonald in a statement.
It was the first organized marathon event in American Samoa, and SPW’s 5th 1/2 marathon.
Competitors flew in from Europe, United States of America, Germany, Japan and Samoa to compete together with local runners.
Finishing in first place in the marathon were Darren Young (men) from Samoa with a time of 4:05:40 and Muantawan Arsrairas (women) from Thailand with a time of 5:38:18.
Finishing in first place in the half marathon were Skylar Jordan (Am. Samoa) with a a time of 2:09:11 and Sana Lynch (Am. Samoa) with a time of 2:16:48.
A major accomplishment, now listed in the World Record Marathons also occurred — “Dr. Brent Weigner has become the first person in the world to complete a marathon in 200 countries!
And, “he achieved this feat at the American Samoa Marathon last week,” according to a sports travel company that specializes in luxury running and multi-sport adventures, Z ADVENTURES.
Z Adventures says that "Brent has been a regular on all Z ADVENTURES tours since its inception in 2015.
“He holds multiple world records in long-distance running.”
Some of the main records, Z Adventures recorded are:
1) “Completed a marathon and ultra on all 7 Continents 10 times.
2) “Only person to run an ultra marathon at both the Geographic North Pole and South Pole.
3) “Completed a marathon in all European countries, all North American and South American countries.”
SPW Fitness and Race coordinator Stevenson McDonald in a statement said, “It was great to see Dr. Weigner complete in the American Samoa Marathon, marking his 200th country in which he has completed a marathon.
“This is historic, as it has never been done before — in 200 countries! We are happy to play a small part in his journey.
“I am also so proud of all the other participants who came out to challenge themselves.
“So many our own people signed up to run in the half marathon, our largest number to date.
“We had over 40 people in the half, another 20 in the full marathon. I see that as a great, positive sign and a shift in our approach on the island regarding healthy living, wellness, and fitness. It was great to see,” Stevenson-McDonald said.
The 2023 American Samoa Marathon & Half Marathon route began at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Tafuna and made its way through Lion’s Park, Nu’uuli, and into Faga’alu where runners turned around and made their way back to the stadium.
Marathoners completed 2 loops, for a total of 26.1 miles, while half-marathoners did 1 loop for a total of 13.1 miles.
The race co-ordinator said,“We want to thank Director Minnie Tuia and the American Samoa Visitor’s Bureau for supporting our event.
“We had 30 participants from off island. There were people from 9 different states and 8 different countries.
“This was a great opportunity for us to promote our islands as a destination for athletic events and a great opportunity to show off the beauty and uniqueness of our islands.”
She thanked the event’s supporters and sponsors, saying, “We could not have done it without their support.”
In an exclusive Samoa News interview with Samoa's Ironman, Mr. Darren Young, he said coming here to the Marathon has been a good trip, just to get away from “the other island to the other island” — calling it a “good holiday”.
His wife Lani, renowned Samoa author Wendt-Young was with him and she ran the half marathon, while he ran the 26-mile marathon.
Young said the rest of his team couldn’t get visas on time.
During the run he told Samoa News he had a few issues with an upset stomach. Usually he just eats his taro and tuna, but that wasn’t the case when they arrived in American Samoa, Young said.
“It’s part of having fun running a marathon," he said. “Issues arise and how to overcome them is challenging as every marathon is different.”
Coming to American Samoa to run a marathon was quite an experience, Young says, as he hasn’t run a marathon for ten years.
“I only do triathlons now in Apia and then I do the Ironman. It's a Marathon in itself, the running part of it.”
According to Young, he’s done 14 Ironman events so far. He did one in New Zealand, three in Australia, another three in the US, one in Samoa and one in Cook Islands and other places.
He said he travels with his wife Lani on these occasions, then she'd do her book launches while he participates in the Ironman races.
When they travel to the US mainland, they participate in different events.
Young says he's read about Dr. Weigner and his achievements and he is doing well for his age at 70 plus. The World's 200th Marathon record holder is going to Tuvalu from here.
But the 14-time Ironman participant praises organizers of the American Samoa's 1st full Marathon, “It was quite hot yesterday while some did it in five hours, some in six hours.
“The traffic was okay, it's just a lot of fumes from the cars but I was running fast, while Lani likes the twinning roads, with the breeze.
“The issue with stray dogs, they just barked, they didn't run at the runners they just barked.”
He said he was grateful to the organizers, thanking them for the ice that kept them going.
"I ran with a vest for water, and everything finished because of the heat. Once the sun came out, the 3 liters were finished half way and I grabbed more ice.”
The proud father of five, says four are off island pursuing further education while one of the three girls accompanied him and her mother here.
Upon return to Samoa on the weekend, they'll go right into training for the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands in November 2023.
His triathlon squad is made up of younger players from the age of 5- 19, cycling and swimming at the Aquatic Center and tracks at Apia Park, since the beginning of the year.
“We also plan to go to Fiji for their National triathlons, to motivate and to keep the momentum going and hoping to do training together, with American Samoa as it’s closer and not as expensive as going to Australia.”
Lani is the Marathon's Team manager for the Pacific Games, and her husband says they need to compete in two places before they can go to the Pacific Games 2023.
Coaching his team is also training for Young, as well for next year's Ironman. He qualified for the World ChampionshipTriathlon in Kona, Hawaii, October 2024.
Young says: “This is my kind of holiday, sleep and not think of my business.
“We really enjoyed our time here in American Samoa.”