BELIZE CITY, Sun. Mar. 13, 2016–A contingency of Belize security forces, led by Belize Defence Force Brigadier General, David Jones, visited St. John’s Cathedral this morning for a special service before they depart the country on Wednesday, March 16, to participate in a 120-mile California to Las Vegas marathon relay race in the United States, where they will complete with security forces from other jurisdictions.
The 25-member team of runners, representing the different branches of Belize’s security forces — the BDF, Belize Police Department, and the Belize Coast Guard, has been under intensive training since Saturday, January 16, when they ran the 8-mile qualifying time trial race.
This morning, General Jones explained to Amandala that the Belize team of runners, who are being coached by marathon runner Ian Gray, went to St. John’s Church so that they could pray together, with the folks who are supporting the team.
General Jones said that on Wednesday, the team will travel by bus to Cancun, Mexico, and the following morning they will fly to Los Angeles, California.
Two days after, the Belize team will begin running in the marathon, which begins in Bakers Field, Los Angeles, and will cover the 120 miles to Las Vegas, Nevada.
“We expect it to be a very challenging race, because the weather is hot and it is expected that the weather will be very cold in the nighttime,” General Jones said.
The BDF General said that he and his team of runners are prepared. “Our hotels have been booked, it is only left for us to get on the aircraft and go and compete for Belize,” he said.
Amandala asked General Jones what is the best time that has been set in the race, and he replied that they are trying to best a time of less than eight minutes per mile.
“We are actually doing that same time, so we have a chance of doing extremely well. We have been training here in Belize, but the weather there is expected to be different, so that is a different variable,” General Jones said.
General Jones said that the Belize team will be participating against other law enforcement agencies from other countries, mostly police. “They do not necessarily have military persons, but there are police, immigration and customs that will be competing in the race,” he explained.
“All of the states in the US have a team in the race. It’s around 250 teams that will be competing. Apart from the US, we also have teams from the UK, Canada, and Australia. I haven’t been informed yet which other countries are participating. But it is a very prestigious race and we are fortunate to be in it,” General Jones explained.
Asked how Belize got to be involved in the race, General Jones said a Belizean, Arthur Pitts, who is one of the primary organizers of the race, sent the invitation to our Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Wilfred “Sedi” Elrington, asking if Belize would like to participate in the race, and we accepted the invitation.
General Jones said that the Belize contingent is made up of 15 men and 5 women. “But we are taking an additional 5 athletes, three additional men and two women: “just in case someone gets ill or injured and not able to continue the race, we have substitutes.”
Each of the 20 runners that make up the Belize team is expected to run a total of six miles in extreme heat and extreme cold weather over a two-day period, both day and night.