A Game For Lions

So far in the news tonight, we've given you mostly bad news - but enough of that, we switching gears now to go over some of the activities from the first full weekend of the September Celebrations.

We start with an event that is not a celebration event per se - but over the past 11 years, the Lionman triathlon has become a mainstay on the Celebration Schedule.

And why not? Sure, it isn't about the Battle, or The Baymen, but it is a uniquely Belizean interpretation of a athletic event popular worldwide. And while there are many triathlons, there is only one named "Lionman"!

And if you want to talk about celebration? Try swimming a mile, riding 25 and then running 6 miles and see if you don't want to celebrate!

So who would be celebrating this year? Last year's champions were Giovanni Choto and Shalini Zabaneh. Giovanni sat out this year, but his brother Jose - himself a past champ - represented. We were out there on Sunday morning to see how they did:

Jules Vasquez Reporting
At ten to 7 in the last of the morning light, the swimmers set out on the 0.9 mile swim. Two time champion Smokes Gladden behind the leaders on the swim but he was ahead of four time female champion Shalini Zabaneh who showed Olympic swimming form.

Dr. Ramon Figueroa a veteran of the event - and last year's Second place finisher was first out of the water followed closely by another veteran, Jim Scott. Both had team mates waiting to be tagged for the 24.8 mile cycling leg of the team triathlon. While Scott - like many others would be participating in the individual event as well including Shalini Zabaneh - who tagged her team-mate Brandon Cattouse. And then went out on her ride. Same for past champion Smokes Gladden - who looked winded as he tagged his team-mate, Byron Pope.

As Denise Diaz one of only three individual female competitors - who also tagged her team Spectrum teammate.

Out on the road - the elite cyclists on the teams took over - as Bryon Pope for Southside warriors and Marlon Castillo for San Cas 2 were in the lead at the Haulover Bridge turning point.

While Brandon Cattouse for team Sagitun rode with the intensity of a time trialist into a strong headwind and his sister Kaya did the same for C-Ray. Coming down to the end of the 24 mile ride, Pope and Castillo were still in the lead and while Castillo stayed up front there was no finish line to sprint to; At the transition point, they had to jump off the bikes and hand over to their runners on foot.

Castillo to Janelle Chanona and Pope to Shanice while Brandon Cattouse handed over to Kevin Seroki. For the individual event - past champ Jose Choto was the first off the bike and first out on the run. Shalini Zabaneh was the first female to transition and get out on the run.

While in the team event - Kevin Seroki was leading the pack as he finished the first lap of the 6.2 mile run. While a labouring Janelle Chanona was encouraged by her sister, an official in the race.

In the individual event, Smokes Gladden had surprisingly overtaken Jose Choto on the run finishing one lap, Choto didn't look to be himself and seemed labored while Shalini Zabaneh was in fine form.

Jim Scott was hamming it up - turning the grueling event into a showcase but it was all business for Smoke Gladden - who was in the hunt for title number 3.

While Desi Figueroa of the Three Figs team was cooled down by her doctor team-mate. Indeed heat was a factor in this year's race - this runner fainted just a few hundred feet from the line and while she wanted to run in she couldn't and had to be carried off.

With the clock ticking towards last year's record of two hours and thirty minutes Kevin Seroki finished first for team Sagitun in two hours nineteen minutes - which may be a record time - he said it was the strength of the team:

Kevin Seroki
"Well you know it's my team-mates, Shalini started very good with us with the swim, it started with Brandon. Brandon and those guys started got me a good lead and I tell you what, I was just trying to keep the paste because Mr. Haulze is a hell of a runner, I know he would have catch me if I had one more lap. But I thank God with Brandon and Shalini, we all worked together it's all about a team."

"Five seconds to the relay triathlon and obviously it's a matter of 3 different people working it. How was it for you at that point?"

Brandon Cattouse
"Well she came out with a good lead and she gave me a good position to start at, I had to catch about 3 guys and gave Kevin the 3rd place position and he finished it off with a win for us ."

Kevin Seroki
"We live on the same street and I didn't see him work out at all, he didn't see me workout at all, so we were, the first time we meet this morning we asked each other, are we still working out? Because I didn't see him on the road and he didn't see me on the road."

Finishing a strong Second in the team event was Louis Haulze for Team Spectrum:

Louis Haulze, Team Spectrum
"I didn't want to get up because they gave me a 6 minutes break, you should not get, the bike man weakened me, so I just performed the best I could."

Jules Vasquez
"So you could have run down Seroki otherwise?"

Louis Haulze, Team Spectrum
"Yes, otherwise."

"Seroki said that. Now tell me Louis, I remember you from many, many years ago doing a race in the city after just recently being operated and everybody was saying Louis shouldn't have been running that race. That's a long, long time ago."

Louis Haulze, Team Spectrum
"I was supposed to get an operation on the 7th of September. I went to caye and run a race in August and a bullet dropped on my back and dropped on my leg the doctor said, I told him I wanted to run, so he said I will give you the day off and so the next week I would have taken the operation."

"Every time I see you, something it had to do with an operation."

Louis Haulze, Team Spectrum
"Well I got 17 shots 1990, they only took out the one that went through my head, through my arms, only the once that could have affected me. The ones that are inside that you don't see they did not take out. They just left those in, so it's my dream now to take them out."

Wilbert Jones, Team Spectrum
"The ride was very hard but we managed to put it off and get second so it was good."

Jules Vasquez
"What was the difficulty you encountered on the ride?"

Wilbert Jones, Team Spectrum
"The headwind, coming back from the halfway turn."

And then to the individual winner, Kenroy Smokes Gladden who did it in two hours 31 minutes:

Kenroy Gladden, Lionman, 2011 (3 Time Champ)
"Well first of all I want to give Jah thanks, because without Jah nothing is possible, secondly I dedicate this one to my little brother that just passed away this year, so I said I give it all just for him, and Jah worked it out just for me."

Jules Vasquez
"You've won this thing over how many years now? Now you've won your 3 championships over a span of 8 years."

Kenroy Gladden, Lionman, 2011 (3 Time Champ)
"10 years to be exacted, this is the 10th time I participate, the first time I didn't participate and one time I didn't participate because I was incarcerated."

"The last time I talked to you Smokes, you were saying that you were not happy at all because you did not win, and promised you were going to win again. Must be sweet to be there and win?"

Kenroy Gladden, Lionman, 2011 (3 Time Champ)
"Yes, very, very sweet because I am a pioneer, its long enough that I am doing this, so I know this year its seasonal, so I tried to do it in the water and I tried to come close as possible to them and it worked out. This year I tracked down all events and all race that they have all over the country, so I believe I am in a little better form this year."

Jose Choto was second - seven minutes behind Gladden - and the past champ and perennial contender explained his subpar performance:

"A good finishing but I know from talking to you before that would not be satisfactory for you."

Jose Choto
"Well, definitely yes, because I win this already but we have to take what God gives us. I got sick a whole week before this race and I just came to participate because I don't like to miss this race because I really like it. But I could not do better, in the running - it really tell on me; I came in second, second is still ok. It's still not too rusty yes."

And Shalini Zabaneh has never been rusty in this race she claimed her fifth victory as Belize's Lion-woman and was also on the swim leg of the winning relay team.

"You're running against the men here in effect, you have one woman competitor, but in effect from what I know of you, you are running against the men."

Shalini Zabaneh - 2011 Lionwoman, (5 Time Champ)
"Yes, definitely my goal was top 5 and I think I got 3rd, so I accomplished my goal. I didn't have a good swim, I can swim better than that, but I had to go with the flow catch my rhythm on the bike and didn't push too hard knowing that the run would be hard so, just have a nice rhythm and I was able to stay in front."

The winning team and the individual honours with prizes were handed to the champions.

Notably, Shalini Zabaneah finished third overall beating the entire field of male competitors, with the exception of the top two finishers Gladden and Choto.

Kenroy Gladden took 20 minutes off his 7th. place finish last year….

Channel 7