Darnell Barrow of the Santino’s team came within six minutes of setting a new record time, when he clocked 5:46:49 on his 150 mile ride from Leslie’s Imports in Belize City to San Ignacio and back to win the 85th annual Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic organized by the Belize Cycling Association on Saturday, March 30.
It was the fastest time for the Cross Country since American rider Ryan Bauman, also riding for the Santino team, set the record of 5:40:12 in 2008.
Barrow, who finished third last year behind Geovanni Choto and Brandon Cattouse and fifth in 2011, won the sprint to the finish over Mexican rider Juan Pablo Magallanes of the Benny’s Megabyte team and American rider John Delong of the Veloshine team. His reward included the $5,000 first prize offered by United Insurance, the winner’s garland from Florasol, and six trophies: the Elston Kerr Cup, the Jeffrey O’Brien Trophy, the Altreith Smith Trophy, the Ludrick “Bunio” Smith Memorial Trophy and one donated by Glen and Laurie Young.
He also won a Samsung Galaxy phone package and the champion’s jersey from Digicel 4G, an overnight stay at Banana Beach Resort in San Pedro, dinner for two at Barrier Reef Resort in Caye Caulker and a two night stay at Beya Suites in the Snake Cayes Marine Reserve.
As the first Belizean, Darnell also won a $2,500 prize from United Insurance and a 1,000 lb bull from Hon. Edmund Castro.
Magallanes took home the $3,000 second prize and a trophy from Belize Electricity Ltd, an overnight stay at Magic Island Resort, the Altreith Smith Memorial plaque, as well as a trophy donated by Glen and Laurie Young.
Delong, who finished third in 2010 and seventh in 2011, claimed the $2,000 third prize and a trophy from Belize Bank, an overnight stay at Barefoot Caribe Resort in Caye Caulker, and a trophy from the Youngs.
Justin Williams of Belizean Linkup team was fourth to win a $1,000 prize from Barrow and Co. and a trophy donated by Glen and Laurie Young.
Gregory Lovell of the Telemedia team won the $800 fifth prize, a trophy from Belize Sugar Industries and a trophy from the Youngs.
Delong’s teammate, Scottie Weiss, won the $600 sixth prize and trophy offered by the Ministry of Sports. He also won the $275 prize and a trophy as the first masters rider over-35. Roger Troyer of Belikin Western Spirits won the $400 seventh prize and trophy from First Caribbean Bank, and Darnell’s teammate ,Leroy Cassasola won the $300 eighth prize from Atlantic Bank.
Brandon Morgan of the C-Ray team won the $200 ninth prize from the Ministry of Sports a Samsung Galaxy Grand and a jersey from Digicel 4G.
The 2006 Cross Country champion Shane Vasquez of the Belikin Western Spirits team rounded out the top 10 to claim a $150 prize from the Ministry of Sports, which also offered $100 prizes to each of the next five finishers.
Brandon Cattouse of C-Ray team was 11th, Mexican rider Carlos Lopez of the Benny’s Megabytes team was 12th. Shane’s younger brother, Ron Vasquez was 13th.
Three-time Lionman champion Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden was 14th and Henry Moriera was 15th.
The next five riders each won a $50 prize from Quick Stop Personal loans. The 2011 Cross Country champion, Guatemalan rider Luis Santizo of the Santino’s team was 16th; Florencio Ramon Torres and Luis Naranjo Pulido, both of the C-Ray team was 17th and 18th, while last year’s champion, Geovanni Choto of the Belikin Western Spirits team was 19th.
Alejandro Padilla of the Santino’s team rounded out the top 20.
Some 86 riders had suited up for this classic ride and the 2003 champion Ernest Meighan, took the first $250 station prize passing CISCO Construction. But the riders were in a tight bunch with no one being allowed to establish any significant lead. Shane Vasquez won the $100 prize passing Prosser Fertilizer at mile 7, then Geovanni Choto took the next two prizes: a cake at mile 8 and a $100 prize at Western Paradise.
Choto’s teammate Juan Umana won the trophy from the George Abraham family at mile 10 1⁄4, and Jose Choto won the $50 prize from Digicel 4G at mile 13.
Meighan took over the lead again to win a $100 prize at the Hattieville Police station, then Byron Pope of Benny’s Megabytes took the lead to win a $100 prize at the Hattieville weigh-in station.
Pope’s teammate Jairo Campos won the $50 prize from Digicel 4G at Rockville and Ron Vasquez won the $75 prize from the Harris family at mile 25.
Jeoavin “Froggy” Leslie of the Santino’s team won the $250 prize at the Belize Zoo, then Mexican rider, Jorge Flores, of the Depredadores team won the $75 prize at La Democracia.
Pope took over the pace briefly to win the $100 prize at Mahogany Heights, then Shane Vasquez moved up to win the $150 prize at Cheers Restaurant at mile 33. Justin Crawford of the Veloshine team moved up to win the $100 prize at the Amigos Restaurant. Flores regained the lead to win a $50 prize at the Starlight Bar; then Allen Castillo of Benny’s Megabytes won the $500 prize at the top of the hill at mile 41.
Castillo’s teammate Herman Requeña would take the next $100 prize at mile 43 1⁄2 then Juan Pablo Magallanes won the next $100 prize at Cotton Tree village. Magallanes was also the first to reach the Belmopan city limits where he won a $500 prize.
National junior road champion Oscar Quiros, formerly of the Xibalban team but now riding for Belikin Western Spirits, won the $100 prize at entrance to Egoli Estates at mile 46 1⁄4.
Darnell’s teammate Marlon Castillo looked like the odds-on favourite to win this year’s Cross Country after he took the lead at Mile 47 to win a $50 prize, while Geon Hanson of the Capital City cycling club won the $50 prize at the Hector Silva airstrip.
Dalwin Cowo of the Cayo High Road team was first at the Belmopan junction to win a $250 prize, a scooter and two other prizes. He also won $100 credit at Guanacaste Park from Digicel 4G, which sponsored $20 phone cards at each of the other station prizes. Cowo also took the $200 first prize at BUCA Shell, with Justin Crawford hard on his wheel to win the $100 second prize. Cowo swept the next $500 prize at the Garbutt’s Puma Service Station in Roaring Creek, with Crawford winning the $150 second prize.
Magallanes won $400 as he swept the next three station prizes in Roaring Creek, while Luis Pulido Naranjo took over the pace to sweep more than $800 in the next four station prizes to Camalote Village.
Magallanes jockeyed for the lead to win the next three station prizes to Teakettle Village. This leading duo ran away from the main peloton alternating the lead and sharing the station prizes all the way to San Ignacio where Pulido-Naranjo was first over the Hawksworth Bridge at the halfway point to win more than $1,400 in prizes.
Returning over the Hawksworth Bridge, Magallanes won the next $200 prize at the Public Works Compound in Santa Elena and a $50 prize at Mutrie Sales, but the lead group now had a new configuration. Gregory Lovell came up to join the leaders, and he took the $300 prize at Running W Meats.
Carlos Lopez won the next $50 prize at Georgeville. He and Pulido shared the lead with Lopez sweeping more than $1,100 in seven station prizes from Unitedville to Teakettle.
They were caught by John Delong who took the $450 prize at the Camalote Community Center and then Allen Castillo won the $300 first prize at the Westar Truck Stop with Delong taking the $200 second prize, and Pulido – the $100 third prize.
Delong swept $650 in the next four prizes going into Roaring Creek where Carlos Lopez won the $100 second prize at BUCA Shell. But Florencio Ramos Flores surged ahead to win $900 and a case of Travellers products at the Belmopan junction. Tragically Marlon Castillo who was in a second peloton trying to catch the leaders, broke his shoulder and arm when he fell in a spill of riders near Guanacaste Park.
This forced the Santino’s team to change its strategy even as Peter Choto took over $900 in the next eight prizes from mile 48 to 47. Delong won the $100 prize at mile 46 1⁄4, then Peter Choto took the next $100 prize at mile 43.
Jose Choto won the next $100 prize at Amigos Restaurant, then Ramos Flores won $250 as he swept the next two prizes at Cheers and Mahogany Heights. Peter Choto regained the lead to win the $75 prize at La Democracia, but Lopez took the next prize at the Belize Zoo, Then Magallanes took the lead passing mile 25 and Rockville.
Carlos Lopez broke away on a solo ride for the next 15 miles, opening a minute-long gap from the main peloton as he swept more than $1,000 in the next eight prizes to Prosser Fertilizer.
The chase group had shortened the lead and caught Lopez shortly after. Kenroy Gladden won the prize at the mile 6 bridge over the Burdon Canal, then Lopez took the next two prizes at the CISCO Construction site and the Faber’s Road junction.
Geovanni Choto took over the lead entering the city to win the next three prizes, but Pulido-Naranjo was also in the lead bunch. Delong swept four station prizes from the Lord’s Ridge Cemetery to the Banak Street junction with Central American Boulevard.
Magallanes led at the Mahogany Street intersection and passing Santos Diaz & Sons, but Ramos Flores and Padilla challenged him crossing the Belcan Bridge and on Princess Margaret Drive. Magallanes still led at the corner of “E’ Street, and at Baymen Avenue; until Darnell Barrow finally caught him in the sprint to the finish. Of the 86 riders who started this gruelling race, only 42 finished.