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#16147 - 02/05/03 10:48 AM Ruta Maya race is weekend after election
Marty Offline
While all eyes may be focussed on next month's elections, the long weekend following March fifth will feature one of the year's premier sporting events.

Marion Ali, Reporting for Channel 5
Mile after mile, it's the longest and most challenging water sport in Central America. Each year, its organisers find new ways to make La Ruta Maya canoe race even more exciting.

Roberto Harrison, Sec., La Ruta Maya Bz. River Challenge
"Every year we try to get more innovative with the race, this year we're adding back, well not adding back, but trying to attract the old paddlers so to speak who started the race using aluminium canoes and plastic canoes. Two, we'll be adding an intramural class, realizing that high schools are competing with each other, so we want to put them in a class by themselves where they can compete with themselves."

According to the race's secretary, Roberto Harrison, the Macal River has never looked better.

Roberto Harrison
"The river over the years has been worked on by these environmental groups. They tell us that the work they've been doing--the river is more or less in a better state than it was a couple years ago. They've been able to clean the banks with debris, garbage, they've been working along the Haulover Creek."

The race starts at 7:00 on the morning of March seventh at the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio and travels down the Macal River, with overnight stops at Banana Bank, Bermudian Landing, and Burrell Boom before its completion at the Belcan Bridge on March tenth. This year's finish promises more fun for spectators and more cash for paddlers.

Roberto Harrison
"It's there that we give out the forty thousand or so dollars worth of prize that we have been able to put together. A fair goes on there, there's the pit-pan races that we're trying to organize, there's the greasy pole that we're trying to put together, so it should be a fun-packed day for people of Belize City and the country as a whole."

Categories for the race include: all male, all female, mixed groups, the Master's category for paddlers over forty years, the dory category, and the professionals, most of whom begin training for the next year the day after the race finishes.

The 2002 defending Ruta Maya champion is the team sponsored by Koop Sheet Metal. This year a number of teams have changed sponsorship, and with more high-tech canoes being built, the competition is expected to be especially keen. Around a hundred boats across all categories will respond to the starter's pistol at dawn on March seventh.

#16148 - 02/05/03 09:03 PM Re: Ruta Maya race is weekend after election
Marty Offline
La Ruta Maya River Challenge

Imagine sliding into a 20 foot canoe every morning for four days and paddling
at 70 strokes a minute for 6 hours at a stretch under the tropical sun, for a
total of 180 miles along the historic Belize River. Now imagine competing
against canoeists half your age.


When the canon exploded, total pandemonium broke out. On the banks
crowds shouted and cheered. All around "Young Ting" was havoc: some
canoes were unbalanced; others had collided. People held on to nearby
canoes, tipping them over. Teams screamed at each other while team
members barked orders at each other, trying to avoid collisions and to
distance themselves from the chaos. Amidst all the commotion, "Young Ting"
tried not to get caught up with the forward surge; instead, they established a
pace and pressed ahead.

For the crowds ashore, the excitement ended in the few minutes it took for
the canoes to disappear downriver. For "Young Ting", however, the thrill had
just begun. Soon enough, the Macal merged with the Mopan to give birth to
the Belize River. This meandering tributary to the Caribbean Sea, which
begins as Rio Mopan in Guatemala, feeds the Great Barrier Reef and creates a
fertile valley that sustains a large variety of wildlife. The river valley
is a
peaceful environment, in direct contrast to the aggressive personalities of
competitive canoeists.


#16149 - 02/14/03 08:42 AM Re: Ruta Maya race is weekend after election
Marty Offline
Women cyclists race in record numbers
Thursday, February 13, 2003

For decades, cycling in Belize has been a male-dominated sport. But
this year, the women are determined to take their rightful share of the
road. The female assault begins with Sunday's B.T.L. Valentine's
Classic, which has attracted more women than ever in search of a
thousand dollar first prize. Early this morning News 5's Marion Ali was
out on the road and spoke to a few of the contenders.

Marion Ali, Reporting
Violet Morrison won in the female category for the Miller Classic in
December and placed second in her class in the New Year's Day race. She
says although anything can happen on the road, training does play a
major role.

Violet Morrison, Cyclist
"On Wednesday I normally want to put in a long ride, which covers
probably about fifty to sixty miles. And on the weekend, on Saturday,
you want to put probably about that same amount, and on Sunday you try
to put in about seventy miles, which you work on endurance. That's
basically what I do. During the week you need a rest day, and those are
Tuesday and Thursday. I also work on my speed, working on how the race
simulate, whereby those guys pick up the speed and they put down the
speed. So I basically work on that, try and fit in with the guys."

Claudette Maheia is a new comer who has been training for only five
weeks in preparation for her first race on Sunday.

Marion Ali
"What are your chances of winning?"

Claudette Maheia, first-time contender
"Huh! I can't say. That remains to be seen. Anything can happen in a
race, but I always take into consideration the other cyclists who have
done this before. The other cyclists are in very good shape I will
admit, so it's going to be a challenge for me for sure."

Marion Ali
"So who are the ones to look out for?"

Claudette Maheia
"Everybody. I'm not taking anybody for granted. Everybody is riding

Reigning female Cross Country champion Anamarie Bennett is encouraged by
the number of contenders this time around.

Anamarie Bennett, Female Cross Country Champion
"We've always had a lot of females out here, but when it comes to the
major races somehow they don't show up. It is the biggest ever for a
race and I hope it continues through to Cross Country so that we could
have at least about ten female cyclists riding."

Meanwhile, the Belize Cycling Association is also looking at ways of
enhancing the sport for the women cyclists and have formed a committee
to do just that.

Dr. Clara Cuellar, Female Cross Country Committee
"If we step out there and help with things like ensuring they have the
service they need on the road and quality of traffic control before,
during, and after the race, help with fund-raising to manage the race,
fund-raising to ensure that they get prizes that are worthy of their
hard work in the training, that would only motivate more."

"We're looking at Sunday as an opportunity to go out there and learn the
things because the committee got together for the first time last week.
We need to learn the things quickly that we need to do to plan for a
better female Cross Country Classic."

And in terms of learning the road, the male cyclists are always ready to
lend great support.

Claudette Maheia
"I have not met a male cyclist who has not been helpful to anyone of us.
From a flat tire to when to change gear, to just trying to motivate you
to do better. The male cyclists are very helpful."

The race begins at nine Sunday morning and includes four categories: the
male elite, male non-elite, women and juniors. The females will race
from Belmopan to Belize City, while the male elites will pedal from San
Ignacio to Benque and then back to Belize City. The non-elites and the
juniors will ride from San Ignacio direct to Belize City. Altogether,
over seventy cyclists are expected to ride in Sunday's race, with eight
women already registered. Marion Ali for news 5.

First prize for the male elite class is fifteen hundred dollars. The
junior winner will take home three hundred dollars, while the top award
for the female category is a thousand dollars, courtesy of Minister
Dolores Balderamos Garcia.

#16150 - 03/27/03 12:59 AM Re: Ruta Maya race is weekend after election
We at the Auxillou Beach Suites (www.auxilloubeachsuites.com) are proud to have sponsored the winning female canoe team in the Ruta Maya Canoe Race 2003. A BIG thank you to the paddlers, Allie, Francesca and Anna.


Click for excellent scuba lessons with Elbert Greer!

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