Arvin Velasco and Hernando Cristobal were the top finishers in the road bike and MTB divisions of the Race for a Cause sponsored by veteran rider Willy Barbo held last Saturday in Marpi.
Velasco crossed the finish line in an unofficial time of 50:08. He was followed by Northern Mariana Islands Football Association technical director Michiteru Mita and Mark Isip.
The course started at the former Mariana Resort & Spa before heading north to Banzai Cliff then south to La Fiesta Mall before turning around and headed back all the way to Bird Island Lookout before it went up to Suicide Cliff for the finish line.
The 28-year-old Velasco said his victory in the 27-kilometer Race for a Cause is his first-ever win in any bike race since he took up the sport two years ago.
“I’m very happy with my win especially because it’s my first time getting first place. The race really started maybe after 10 kilometers of the flat route when we reached the portion we call ‘Siko/Elbow.’ After that I just went hard as I can,” said the Commonwealth Health Center dialysis technician who is originally from Taytay, Philippines.
Cristobal, for his part, was the first to tear the tape in the MTB division with an unofficial time of 53.50. Renren Gaviola and Mike Aparte came in second and third, respectively.
“I didn’t expect to win because I didn’t had a lot of practice before the race. Maybe I won just because some of the faster MTB riders were not in condition,” said the 46-year-old Cristobal.
In the road bike division for women, Vernice Estepa came in first followed by Kathryn Ruszala and Rosemarie Chinatown, while the MTV division had Ayano Braxton and Jayanne Felipe coming first and second, respectively. All Top 3 winners in the road bike and MTB races received medals from Barbo, who celebrated his birthday by hosting the bike race.
“Instead of spending a lot of money to celebrate my birthday I thought what better way to commemorate my special day than hold a fundraising bike race and help people in need,” he said.
Barbo said a total of $970 was raised in the Race for a Cause and it will be donated to three individuals in dire need of help. He said one is a 6-year-old slated to go to Hawaii for scoliosis surgery (parents are CWs and are not qualified for allowance or plane ticket to escort their child). The other beneficiary is a CW who lost his job three months ago and the third is a man with status who just wants to build a small shack for him to live in.