BELIZE CITY, Tue. Dec. 29, 2015– The old year is winding down, and the new year is almost here, and it begins again, for the 26th year running, with the second biggest annual sporting event in the nation – the KREM New Year’s Day Cycling Classic, “from the border to the boulevard”!
According to the Technical Guide for the race, the event “is organized by KREM Radio under the regulations of the International Cycling Union and the Cycling Federation of Belize (CFB). It will be held on Friday, January 1, 2016. The Open Elite, U-23, and Masters’ (including 4/5) race will start from Corozal Town at 9:00 a.m. Female and Junior/Youth will start in front of the Town Hall in Orange Walk Town at 9:30 and 9:35 a.m., respectively.” And the “NADO anti-doping regulations” will be in effect for the event.
The race is absolutely “fat” with prizes and station prizes totaling upwards of twenty-five thousand dollars, and counting, as more station prizes keep coming in. (See ad elsewhere in this issue.) A late addition to the station prize list is a $600.00 prize for the Elite Race at Crooked Tree Junction (by the Codd family); and at the Philip Goldson Airport junction, there are an Elite prize of $100.00, a Female prize of $50.00, and a Junior prize of $50.00 (all donated by Imani’s Clothing and Electronics).
Michael “Big Wire” Lewis won the inaugural KREM Classic from Orange Walk Town in 1991, and there were Belizean champions for the first ten years of the race, until Mexican Miguel Perez won in 2001.
The first Female race in the KREM Classic took place that same year, 2001, and it was Karen Rosito taking the title.
Foreigners dominated last year’s KREM Classic, after three years of Belizean champions in 2012 – Geovanni Choto, 2013 – David Henderson, and 2014 – Byron Pope. Mexican Hector Rangel, riding for Benny’s Megabytes, took the top prize last year, followed in second place by American David Santos of the BelCal team. This year, according to reports, foreign riders will not be allowed to ride on Belizean teams, so this should add a new dimension to the intrigue and gamesmanship involved in the race. It is also reported that current Cross Country Champion, Belizean Justin Williams is flying in from Los Angeles to participate in this year’s KREM Classic.
For the females, reigning KREM Classic champion Alicia Thompson was bested in a sprint to the finish by former champion Kaya Cattouse in a Christmas race a couple weeks ago. There is no word yet if former 5-time champion Shalini Zabaneh will be riding this year, but Alicia and Kaya are expected to be joined by young Patricia Chavarria in the quest for the KREM Classic crown this year.