BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 31, 2016–83 riders from 16 different cycling teams, including 18 foreigners – Mexican, Guatemalan and American – took off from Belize City on Holy Saturday morning with a rolling start at 6:00 a.m. past Leslie’s Imports for the 88th running of the historic Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic to San Ignacio and back (140 miles); and only 40 finished the race within the 30-minute limit after the winner. 15 of the foreign riders were part of teams – Team Starlight of the USA with 4 members (including 2003 & 2004 CC Champion Chris Harkey), Team Cancun of Mexico with 5 members, Team Yapurland of Mexico with 3 members, and the Guatemalan National Team with 3 members. The other 3 foreigners were all from the USA and rode as unattached cyclists, one of them being 2005 CC Champion Bill Elliston. The Belizean teams consisted of Link-Up Cycling (4 members, including 2015 CC Champion Justin Williams), Digicell-4G (8), C-Ray Road Addikz (5), Westrac Alliance (9), Team Smart (8, including 2013 CC Champion Darnell Barrow), Western Spirit Cycling (4, including 2006 CC Champion Shane Vasquez), Becol Uprising (4), Benny’s Megabytes (4), Bel-Cal Cycling (4), Chavarria Cycling (4), Cabral/Marin Cycling (1), and Smart Junior Cycling (2).
It was a fresh south-easter blowing from early on Holy Saturday, so it was not expected to be a record breaking day; yet, after some phenomenal riding, the winner, Guatemalan Alejandro Padilla Miranda, along with his teammate and brother, Julio Padilla Miranda, crossed the finish line in 5:51:09, just 11 minutes above the record of 5:40:12 set in 2008 by American Ryan Bauman.
The race had all the usual ups and downs along the way, with breakaway groups being pulled in by the peloton, and a new breakaway starting.
For one who was unfortunately out of range of radio communication, my first piece of information about the race came from a Facebook post by Kaya Cattouse at 11:34 p.m. which gave the heartbreaking news: “Alejandro and Julio Padilla of the Guatemalan National Team coming for 1-2 finish! They punched joel borland at mile 10 and that’s it for sports!!!”
From all reports, Joel Borland made a gallant effort, but in a team fashion he was simply “double-benked” by the Padilla brothers. The new champion, Alejandro Padilla Miranda had been second behind Mexican Juan Pablo Magallanes back in 2014, so he is no stranger to our Cross Country.
In 2014, when foreigners rode on Belizean teams, the top 7 finishers were all foreigners, including 2nd place Alejandro Padilla Miranda at 5:45:06 and 6th place Julio Padilla Miranda at 5:45:46. The first Belizean then was 7th place Marlon Castillo, who is now semi-retired. Gregory Lovell finished 9th and Byron Pope was 13th that year, and neither of those 3 would be in this year’s ‘Country. Perhaps it was not such a good idea to invite the Guatemalan “national team” after all, as they were the only “national team” in this year’s Cross Country.
It’s in the history books now, and hopefully we learn something from the experience, and are better prepared for next year. Respect to the 2016 Holy Saturday Cross Country Champion, Alejandro Padilla Miranda.
Top finishers in the 2016 Holy Saturday Cross Country were: champion Alejandro Padilla Miranda (GUAtemalan Nat’l Team, 5:51:09); 2nd Julio Padilla Miranda (GUAtemalan Nat’l Team, 5:51:09); 3rd Joel Adan Borland (Digicell-4G, 5:53:07); 4th Brandon Cattouse (C-Ray Road Addikz, 5:59:17); 5th Bill Elliston (USA, unattached, 5:59:17); 6th Scottie Weisse (USA, Team Starlight, 5:59:17); 7th Nissan Arana (Westrac Alliance, 5:59:17); 8th Robert Liam Stewart (Western Spirit Cycling, 5:59:17); 9th Henry Moreira (Team Smart, 5:59:17); 10th Ron Vasquez (Western Spirit Cycling, 6:05:33); 11th Angel Tzib (Becol Uprising, 6:05:33); 12th Brandon Morgan (Westrac Alliance, 6:05:33); 13th Quinton Hamilton (Unattached, 6:05:45); 14th Giovanni Lovell (Digicell-4G, 6:05:48); 15th Oscar Quiros, Jr. (Western Spirit Cycling, 6:06:31); 16th David Flynn (Team Starlight, 6:06:31); 17th Phillip Leslie (Benny’s Megabytes, 6:07:00); 18th Robert Mariano (Digicell-4G, 6:07:27); 19th Kenroy “Smokes” Gladden (Unattached, 6:07:27); 20th Jose Choto (C-Ray Road Addikz, 6:07:27); 21st Tarique Flowers (Benny’s Megabytes, 6:07:27); 22nd Jose Anastacio Priego (MEX, Team Cancun, 6:07:27); 23rd Dwight Lopez (Bel-Cal Cycling, 6:07:27); 24th Elston Coleman (Westrac Alliance, 6:07:27); 25th Yayir Godinez Jimenez (MEX, Team Cancun, 6:07:27); 26th Chris Harkey (USA, Team Starlight, 6:07:47); 27th Giovanni Macario Sam-Poz (GUAtemalan Nat’l Team, 6:07:47); 28th Mark Staine (Team Smart, 6:07:47); 29th Kaydine Pinelo (Smart Junior Cycling, 6:10:33); 30th Fitzgerald “Palas” Joseph (Lampaz, 6:10:39); 31st Shane Vasquez (Western Spirit Cycling, 6:10:46); 32nd Edgar Velasquez (MEX, Team Yapurland, 6:10:46); 33rd David Henderson (Benny’s Megabytes, 6:12:52); 34th Kendrick Gray (Chavarria Cycling, 6:14:47); 35th Kent Gabourel (Kulture, 6:16:46); 36th Ron McKenzie (Westrac Alliance, 6:16:50); 37th Luis Alberto Avila Balam (MEX, Team Yapurland, 6:17:50); 38th Stephen Cabral (Cabral/Marin Cycling, 6:17:52); 39th Zahir Figueroa (Becol Uprising, 6:23:42); and 40th Isaiah Willacey (Bel-Cal Cycling, 6:32:24).
7 official finishers outside of the 30-minute time limit after the winner included Jeffery Mozingo (USA, Unattached), Elston Rojas (Chavarria Cycling), Deryn Bellini (Westrac Alliance), Anthony Taylor (USA, Unattached), George Lovell, Sr. (Digicell-4G), and Leroy “Casa” Casasola (Digicell-4G), all clocking 6:43:37; and Omar Gomez (MEX, Team Cancun).