The eighty-fifth running of the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic is less than two days away and preparations for what is easily the biggest, single-day, sporting event are in progress. The highly coveted garland, the second to be won by a Belizean athlete in a decade, was taken by Giovanni Choto in an impressive show of athleticism in 2012. While the existing record, which was set in 2008, remains to be broken, there are a total of eighty-five riders, a number of whom are prospects for this year’s title, including fifteen foreign riders, who are set to take on the grueling challenge. And, just how will the annual tourney be staged amid unrest within the Belize Cycling Association? Well, this year’s competition is being held under the patronage of the National Olympics Committee, led by newly-elected chairman Hilly Martinez. That decision is the result of contention involving the legitimacy of current BCA president Emil Moreno, who is recognized by the UCI and not the National Sports Council. Nonetheless, the gears are in motion and come Saturday only one cyclist will ride away with the most sought-after title in Belizean sports. News Five spoke with cycling pundit and BCA committee member Kwame Scott for a look at what fans can expect.
Kwame Scott, Committee Member, Belize Cycling Association
“The eighty-fifth running of the Cross Country Cycling Classic is being organized by a group that was appointed and it includes, but not limited to, myself, Perry Gibson, John Swift, Ms. Yvonne Robinson, Ms. Leticia Westby and Melvin Torres and we are headed by Mr. Hilly Martinez, who is also the chairman of the National Olympic Committee and this group has been organizing races since December actually when we had an impasse in cycling. As far as the Cross Country goes, everything is basically in order. Most, ninety-eight percent of the prizes have already been garnered, the necessary prizes and along the route we have gotten great support from the public, giving prizes along the route as is usually the case and I must say that Giovanni Choto’s solo run last year contributed a lot to that, you know, giving us hope. In terms of the finish of the Cross Country, the finish line has been moved from where it has been for the last five years, since 2008, from the Memorial Park. We’ll be finishing just in front of the Hour Bar location there on Princess Margaret Drive and the reason is simple, there have been road works going on in the route leading up to Memorial Park and we have had meetings and we have had discussions and we’ve been promised that it would be ready for race day. However, things were moving kind of slow and as a group we made a decision that we would go to our plan B which is to finish it a little farther up, shortening the distance by about three-quarters of a mile but safety and planning is way in effect. Awesome team, awesome.”
The Eighty-fifth Annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic will be carried live, on Channel Five beginning at five a.m. on March thirtieth. But tonight stay tuned for Race for the Garland with James Adderley at eight o’clock.