Mothers’ Day was May 9th and perhaps the organizers of the 21st Annual SOL Belize Female Cross Country Cycling Classic in cooperation with the Belize Cycling Association postponed the event for a week later for a reason or reasons unknown to us. Whether it was ridden a week later, it didn’t really matter to the 11 women who braved the elements for the 71.7 miles from San Ignacio, Cayo to the finish line along the shores of Marine Parade Boulevard in front of Belize City’s Memorial Park.
In life nothing is perfect but if we could come close to perfection then the overcast skies Sunday morning for the start was next to being perfect. All ready and clad in the colorful team jerseys, they rolled off at 8:30. Sixteen minutes into the race, former champion Anthea Sutherland suffered a puncture causing her to fall back but was able to catch up to the peloton a few minutes later. Then Michelle Cano, a rookie to the female cycling scene and Sheena Castillo briefly lost contact only to return and rejoin the peloton but it was evident that they both labored to get back.
2008 Champion Shalini Zabaneh set the pace from the beginning, often dropping back into the 3rd and 4th position to survey and probably to strategize with her less experienced team mate Jamie Lee Usher, a familiar face in Belize’s annual triathlons. After giving up a few station prizes, Shalini mounted an attack up the famous Mount Hope to capture the Queen of the Hills points just outside Ontario village and that was it. At Blackman Eddie, she turned on the jets and battled the headwind alone gobbling up the station prizes all the way into Belize City.
The five woman chase team of unattached riders Marinette Flowers and Janelle Chanona, Team Belize Bank/B.T.L. Alicia Thompson, Jamie Lee Usher of Sagitun and Team Lovell’s Gina Lovell didn’t make any effort to chase or catch Zabaneh. The chase team had shaken off Fiona Humes and Anthea Sutherland of Telemedia Swoosh along with unattached riders, veteran Sheena Castillo, Michelle Cano and Jane Usher.
At miles 8 ½ Alicia Thompson of Team Belize Bank/B.T.L. mounted a solo attack on her attempt to catch Zabaneh who had a lead of 3 minutes 37 seconds on the chase group. Thompson singlehandedly shaved off a full minute on the Zabaneh lead but that wasn’t nearly enough.
While the final stretch from the Belmopan/Hummingbird Highway provided no serious hills, Shalini had little or no difficulty controlling her pace to finish the race in top form with her right hand clenched in a fist and the beautiful smile already in place; she took the ride in 4 hours 26 minutes and 21 seconds to claim Team Sagitun’s 3rd consecutive Mother’s Day Championship. Shalini won in ’08, Paola Salazar took it ’09 and now in 2010, it’s Shalini again! followed by a happy Alicia Thompson a minute later in 2nd (Thompson didn’t do much training for the race), Marinette flowers was six minutes behind/////outsprinting a field of four to take 3rd in front of Sagitun’s Jamie Lee Usher who took 4th/////Janelle Chanona was 5th and Gina Lovell took 6th. Four other riders finished the race out of the time limit, Jane Usher roped in 7th, Fiona Humes, 8th, 9th went to Michelle Cano and Sheena Castillo finished 10th while Anthea Sutherland didn’t finish. Finish or not, we want to say big ups and Kremgratulations ladies!