Vibrantly painted runners raced through Upper Tumon and into Harmon early Saturday morning as they participated in the 14th annual Triple J 5K and 10K Family Run.
For 78-year old Ut Nguyen, the owner of Truong’s Restaurant in Harmon, this race has special meaning to her.. According to Nguyen, about 44 years ago, her husband Hoang Truong, now deceased, was hired and was one of the first Triple J employees.
Truong left Vietnam shortly after the fall of Saigon, she said. Her husband’s boss, Bob Jones, and his family helped bring Nguyen and their seven children to Guam. Now Nguyen pays tribute to the Jones family by running in this annual race. She hasn’t missed a race since its inception.
“I love this race (10K) and train for it all year long with my daughter Kim (Sullivan),” said Nguyen. “We run a 4K about two to three times a week in Tiyan, so we are ready for this one every year.”
Sullivan adds, “We love this race because it’s for a good cause and we really love the Jones family. “
Nguyen said she loves all the assorted colors and all the people enjoying this race. Despite getting splattered and stunned by the color powder at the start of the race, Nguyen was able to shake it off and enjoy the 10K course.
“I enjoy watching the kids run with colors all over themselves, and I enjoy the kids play in the bubble area,” said Nguyen.
As for her time, Nguyen is unsure of where she finishes in the race. Her name is never in the final results because the non-English speaker is unable to fill out the finisher card at the end of the race.
Sixteen-year old Mya Tolerson, a junior running standout from John F. Kennedy High School, said she has run the race for the past three years.
While the powder was pretty, she said, dye bothers her breathing when she runs, so she tries to avoid the areas where they are throwing the powder. But, she readily admits she enjoys watching the other runners splashed with different colors.
“I start to laugh when I see all the runners splashed with different colors,” said Tolerson. “This 10K (course) is really challenging, because there are a lot of up and down hills. It’s a mental game, and I just push through it.”
Ben Middlebrooke, who has represented the island in Pacific Games, blitzed the 5K course for the top finish at 18:01. Fellow Open Division runner Dylan Chamberlain finished second in 18:44 with Youth Division winner Hugh Kent taking third overall on the 5K course. In the female division, the top overall female was St. John’s School freshman Jordan Baden in 22:02, while JFK’s top freshman runner Trixia Nierva took second overall in 22:11. Youth runner Liliana Fennessey rounded out the top three females in 23:56.
In the 10K race, Ryan Matienzo blazed his own course, finishing in 37:01 for the top time. St. Paul freshman runner Shakeera Esma finished first overall in the 10K in 46:11.