The first ever Mountain Bike Competition has ended and shows great potential for adventure tourism and sports destination in Haiti
On January 31 to February 2, 2013, Mountain Bike Ayiti (MBAyiti), the first ever pro-am mountain bike stage race in Haiti, took its riders from Port-au-Prince to Marigot through some of the most stunning terrain in Haiti.
The race has attracted international professional and amateur racers. MTB Ayiti has garnered registration from such internationally-acclaimed champions as Hans Rey, Marla Streb and Sonya Looney, amongst dozens of others.
More importantly, MTB Ayiti surprised the international community by putting Haiti in the spotlight as a new adventure tourism and sports destination. It attracted the attention of numerous international publications such as Miami Herald, Columbia, TN Daily Herald, National Geographic, The Huffington Post, Men's Journal, Caribjournal, etc.
In a previous interview with Haiti Business Week, the organizer of this event, Philip Kiracofe, an adventure traveler and entrepreneur based in New York, said about the race: “It allows us to show off all the beautiful, amazing, wonderful cultural elements that never ever get exposed because the predominant story coming out of Haiti continues to be the disaster."
The idea also captured Haiti's Ministry of Tourism's attention, which supported Travelcology in organizing this race.
“We were happily surprised when MTB Ayiti first approached us with the idea of putting on a bike race from the capital to the South coast," said Stephanie Balmir Villedrouin, Haiti’s Minister of Tourism. “We support these types of initiatives to showcase Haiti as a destination for mountain biking and adventure tourism: our country has the topography and natural resources to be a great destination for adventure seekers, and it’s a nice way to discover the other face of Haiti," the Minister has highlighted.
It was an incredible and awe-inspiring race
MTB Ayiti, the first ever pro-am mountain bike stage race in Haiti concluded Saturday, February 2nd with an awe-inspiring finish to the challenging three-stage course.
Sonya Looney dominated the race, winning two stages outright to take first in the overall General Classification with a total time of 6:41:49.
Second place was won by Joseph Willy, a Haitian roadbike champion participating in his first mountain bike race (+5:23). Marla Streb earned third place, with an impressive showing in the forest loops and a dominating descent (+30:41). Top 10 Overall General Classification includes Five Women and Four Haitian Racers.
In total, 26 riders from 5 countries competed in the inaugural event, which started at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince, coursed through the high mountain passes and stunning views of La Visite National Park, and finished on the beach in Marigot, just feet from the Caribbean Sea.
Racers covered 65 miles and climbed nearly 10,000 feet over two days. The most dramatic finish was the final stage, when Haitian racer Joseph Willy crossed the line first and was paraded on the shoulders of ecstatic spectators witnessing their first bike race.
A moving award ceremony capped off the race as Haiti’s Minister of Youth, Sports, and Civic Action, Magalie Racine, joined the Minister of Tourism, Stephanie Villedrouin, to congratulate all of the participants and express their pride in the amazing performance of the local Haitian racers.
The top three overall Female riders were Sonya Looney, Marla Streb and Jenny Fletcher. The Top Male finishers were Joseph Willy, David Wilcox, and Holrich Abnel.
Two other notable performances were the team of Eric Miller and Paralympic athlete Brian Cowie, who completed the race on a tandem mountain bike, and Rosedanie Cadet, the only female Haitian rider.
MTB Ayiti was the first ever pro-am mountain bike stage race in Haiti, held Jan 30-Feb 2, 2013. In partnership with the Haitian Ministry of Tourism, Travelcology aims to raise awareness for Haiti’s potential as an exciting ‘off-the-beaten path’ destination for mountain biking and adventure tourism.