Palau’s 26th Independence Day “Ridge-to-reef” Relay, organized by the Palau Track and Field Association, drew 125 runners to a race through Babeldaob on Saturday afternoon, starting at 1pm.
The 18-mile run took competitors across a mixture of paved sections of the Compact Road and rugged gravel roads, beginning in Aimelik and ending at Coco Beach in Ngiwal.
The race involved 20 teams, each with six members, who took turns running segments of the 18-mile stretch, as well as five solo runners, who ran the entirety of the race themselves.
The winning team, Ngara Rurt, finished the race in 1 hour and 54 minutes, followed by the Palau High School team, the Spiders, who finished in 1 hour and 58 minutes.
Aaron Salvador, the fastest solo-runner, finished the race in 3 hours and 11 minutes, followed by Orion Cruz and Mayumi Sone, who both finished in 3 hours and 32 minutes.
Each team was accompanied by a vehicle, which followed the runners and offered water when needed.
Various competitors noted that the timing of the relay, which took place during the heat of the day over a route with little shade, added to the challenge.
“When you’re running over that sort of distance, in this sort of heat, finishing itself is winning,” said one of the runners.
This was the first Independence Day relay organized by the Palau Track and Field Association, which has expressed the plan to make it an annual event.