A new women’s winner was crowned at Falefa Falls yesterday in Samoa Events final weekend race of the year.
Chiaki Sakakibara, 32 of JICA Japan ran a sub 1-hour 10km race to win the women’s division in a time of 53 minutes and 52 seconds. In doing so Sakakibara also finished sixth overall in a male dominated field.
The stunning Falefa course comes with a curse of the hills.
The spectacular views over Falefa Bay made up for the punishing ritual out and back.
The first aim was to finish, and the second was to finish under one hour. Sakakibara was the only female to do that yesterday.
Second in the women’s race was Aleka Freijah who went over the hour mark only so slightly at 1:01:12.
Kat Riley took third placing in a time of 1:08:05 in her second tilt at the 10km distance.
In the men’s competitive division Kuniyoshi Watanabe, 26, also of JICA Japan blitzed the combined field in a time of 41 minutes 17 seconds.
That is outrageously fast in them hills, but that is why Kuniyoshi is Samoa Events Runner of the Year.
This is the fastest time this year in the two Falefa races. The January race was won by Stuart Young in 48:08.
If he wanted to, Kuni who currently lives in Le’auva’a village could have won all races this year.
His other wins this year came in the full Marathon in Savaii Marathon. He also won the Lalomanu Half in July. Kuni’s other outing this year was in the South Coast 12km in February that he also won.
Finishing second spot was another JICA volunteer in Wataru Yamasaki.
His time of 48:49 is the third fastest time at Falefa this year. Third yesterday was Shane Paulo of Fagali’i in 51:29 and fourth fastest time of 2017.
Falefa Falls is the opening and closing event of the year for Samoa Events and is raced in January and November.
In the 6km distance Sophie Davis of Maine USA won her first Samoa Events race.
She clocked 21:43 for the women’s win. Gideon Mulitalo was the first male home in 40:10.