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Mar 16, 2016

Belize Protectors are off to Vegas for Challenge Cup Relay

Twenty-five members of Belize’s armed forces are heading to Las Vegas, Nevada where twenty of them will participate in the Challenge Cup Relay – Baker to Vegas Race. The one hundred and twenty mile race is open to serving or former members of the armed forces, and it is the first time that a country from this region has been invited to attend. Determined to make a mark, Belize has selected the best of the best from the Coast Guard, Police and the B.D.F. and after three months of training those elite few departed for Vegas today. Mike Rudon was there as they prepared to leave and has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

One hundred and twenty grueling miles in temperatures which can soar past one hundred degrees during the day, and then plummet in the night…the challenge is open to only the fittest of the armed forces. Belize hopes to place its name in the history books as the winner of the thirty-first Challenge Cup Relay – Baker to Vegas Race.

 

George Lovell

Ret’d. Col. George Lovell, C.E.O., Ministry of National Security

“We were fortunate to be invited as the first country within Central America and the Caribbean to participate. And so Belize will be the vanguard that leads the way for this region. Our athletes are well prepared; they have been preparing since the nineteenth of January when the team was put together and I believe they are well-prepared to meet the challenges of the hundred-and-twenty-mile relay race.”

 

The team heading out today has twenty-five members – thirteen from the B.D.F., six from the Coast Guard and six from the Police Department. Only twenty will participate, with five runners as backup in the event of injury or illness. Six women are also competing.

 

David Jones

Brig. Gen. David Jones, Commander, Belize Defense Force

“I think they’ll do very well; the only disadvantage that we will have going into this race is the climate there. The heat there is quite different from here, I suspect. It is going to be in the dessert; it is not something that our athletes are familiar with so it is unchartered territory for them, but physical preparation, they are ready. They’ve been running in the midday sun here in Belize for a couple of months now and they’ve been running in cool temperatures—as cool as we can get it. The temperature there is extreme heat and also cold temperature that can drop very low. But physically they are prepared and I expect them to do well. The only disadvantage that I see is probably the climate there, but they will be able to adjust because we have at least two days there before we start the actual race.”

 

Rasheda Cunningham, Special Boat Unit, B.D.F.

“That training, I’m glad it’s over. It was really hard but we conquered it, got over it. It was very intense.”

 

Jereen Chun

Jereen Chun, Force Headquarters, B.D.F.

“I’m not really nervous because the training that we did already made us ready for this race. The only thing I want Belize to do is to have the best time. And I know everybody will do their part; everybody say they will try to have the best time so nervousness, no.”

 

Mike Rudon

“Are you concerned about the heat?”

 

Jereen Chun

“Oh yes, because I am not used to the heat. That’s the reason why we are going ahead of time to get familiar to the weather.”

 

The group will travel to Cancun by bus, then fly to Vegas. It’s been a challenge getting the logistics in order, and even more of a challenge finding the money to make the trip happen.

 

Ret’d. Col. George Lovell

“We had some sponsors—platinum, gold, bronze sponsors. Bronze sponsor is a sponsor that would give over a thousand dollars and up to four thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars. A gold sponsor is a sponsor that gives five thousand and more…up to nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine dollars. And a platinum sponsor is one that gives over ten thousand. We’ve had two platinum sponsors—B.T.L., Digicell and we also have Truckers, Batty Bus Services, who again is one of our platinum sponsors. Smart, B.E.L., Social Security; they are all gold sponsors. And we do appreciate those sponsors because it had helped us to at least met majority of our commitment. We are still twenty-seven thousand dollars short of what we would have liked to break even for the expenses that are associated with this trip.”

 

While doing well in the prestigious race would be a matter for great pride, and great publicity for Belize, there’s a little more hanging in the balance – against the backdrop of the Guatemala/Belize situation.

 

Ret’d. Col. George Lovell

“I am hoping that what this will do is to first of all as far as Belize is concerned let all those other countries be aware of Belize and what it brings. And as you know we are currently going through one of the things that are hot on the media, which is the whole aspect of Belize and its territorial integrity and I’m hoping that this can be an avenue through which we can at least let people understand what our plight is and for us to get international support that we so do need.”

 

All races since 1985 have been won by different federal and law enforcement agencies in California. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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1 Response for “Belize Protectors are off to Vegas for Challenge Cup Relay”

  1. Marie says:

    Goodluck guys, wish I had known ahead of time, I would be out there supporting you.

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