Apr 142017
 
One of the most attended of Belize's annual Easter events is the Holy Saturday Cross country Cycling Classic.

One of the most attended of Belize’s annual Easter events is the “Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic”. A bicycle race open to amateurs of any country.

Belize’s Annual Easter Events.

One of the most attended of Belize’s annual Easter events is the Holy Saturday Cross Country Cycling Classic. The inaugural race was held in 1928 and is now followed by most Belizeans. Organized by the “Cycling Federation of Belize”, the international event is held on the Holy Saturday of each year. Amateur cyclists from any country are welcome to participate.

The Beginning.

The event was originally the concept of Monrad Metzgen after recognizing the significant use of bicycles as a popular mode of transportation for many Belizeans at that time, and. that still holds true today. His proposal of a cycling journey from Belize City to then “El Cayo” (now San Ignacio) also garnered support from then Governor, Sir John Burdon who provided a cup that would be awarded to the winner of the annual Easter event.

 

Historical Notables.

  • The inaugural Race was in April, 1928.
  • Elston Kerr, a Belizean, was the first ever winner.
  • Jeffrey O’Brien dominated the race during the first half of the 1950’s. Regarded as a premier sprinter, he took first place in 1951 and 1952. Finished second in 1953, and returned to his winning ways in 1954 and 1955.
  • Ashton Gill holds the honor of being the only cyclist to ever post three back to back wins for the consecutive years of 1945 – 1947.

 

A National Tradition.

The race begins at 6:00 AM on the holy Saturday of Easter weekend. It leaves Belize City heading west across the country for approximately 71 Miles(114 Km.) almost to the western border. The riders make their turn in San Ignacio, Cayo District. Then heading back towards Belize City to complete the return leg of the approximately 142 Mile(228 Km) total route. The winners usually arriving at the finish line right around 12:00 noon. A complete history including winners is available here.

Everyone Gets Involved.

The residents of the towns and villages along the George Price Highway (Western Highway) line the route to participate with cheers for their favorite riders. It is a chance to see where their selections are placing in the pack, and then to see if they have improved on the return leg. While thousands watch live, tens of thousand more tune in to the energetic radio broadcasters as they provide historical, biographical, and statistical data, as well as, usually an entertaining up to the second commentary.

 

More About Easter Celebrations in Belize.

Would you like to know more about the four days of Easter Celebrations in Belize? Check out my previous post titled “Easter Celebrations and superstitions in Belize”. It Includes more of Belize’s annual Easter events, as well as, some long time superstitions that date back to Mayan times but, still surround the Easter Holidays.

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Mar 282016
 
Easter Celebrations in Belize

While Belize has many festivals and holidays that celebrate it’s many cultures, and that recognize the individuals that have made significant contributions to the history of Belize. No celebration is more important than the five days of Easter Celebrations.

Easter Celebrations in Belize

Easter celebrations or Pasch (Pascha) for many begins at noon on Thursday when government offices and many other businesses close for preparations and remain closed until Tuesday morning. While this is a Holy Holiday that celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ, this is also a weekend when many Belizeans will travel from their home area to other areas of the country to visit family, or to take part in the many different events and activities held throughout the country.

While Belize has many festivals and holidays that celebrate it’s many cultures, and that recognize the individuals that have made significant contributions to the history of Belize. No celebration is greater than Easter Celebrations.

Easter Celebrations and Superstitions on Good Friday

Good Friday is a traditional Holy day where many still predominantly catholic Belizeans will  meet at the local church to participate in the towns Stations of the Cross Procession. This procession with it’s 14 stops for prayers and hymns represents the final journey of Jesus to his ultimate death on earth and crucifixion.

This day is also filled with superstitions rooted in Belize’s folklore and legends. For example it said that if you swim in the rivers on Good Friday you will turn into a mermaid, it is also said that if you cut down a Physic Nut tree, blood will run from the tree. Another legend is that if you let your children climb in trees on this day they will turn into monkeys. As Good Friday is a somber day to to abstain from work and pleasurable activities, and to observe the death of Christ, it is believed that these legends were started to keep the kids from playing and the men from working.

 

Holy Saturday

Easter Celebrations in Belize would not be complete without the running of the now international "Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic" bicycle race.

Easter Celebrations in Belize would not be complete without the running of the now international “Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic” bicycle race. Many will line the streets to witness the event with many others in Belize tuning in to listen to the play by play on the radio.

Holy Saturday is a day when many activities are scheduled all across the country. The largest is The Holy Saturday Cross Country Classic. The now international bicycle race starts in the early morning in Belize City with participants pedaling across the country to San Ignacio and then returning to finish in Belize City at around noon. This is also the day for picnics and BBQ’s with family and friends. I recall last year on Holy Saturday morning returning home from our walk on the beach to find our landlords set up in our yard listening to the bicycle race on the radio and preparing the grill. Two grills made from recycled beer kegs were filled with chicken, beef ribs, pork, and even a taste of lobster and of course served with traditional rice & beans and potato salad.

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday marks the end of lent and is a day when most Catholics will attend mass and celebrate the resurrection of Christ. After mass has been held, like many other cultures, Belizeans like their chocolate too, this is the day that the children (and many adults I’m sure) wait to get their candy and chocolate fix in Easter egg hunts and other like activities.

Easter Monday

Easter Monday marks the end of the Easter celebrations and is the day that those that have not already done so, return to their home areas. There are still events enjoyed on this day, the most notable being the afternoon running of the annual Horse Race held in Burrel Boom at the Castleton Race Track.