The La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is on for its 15th year from the 9th – 12th March 2012. The committee met on Tuesday and made the following decisions:
1. Registration fee is now $300 per team 2. Safety & Rescue will be heightened 3. The rule 21 LIFE PRESERVERS will be enforced at its fullest for the duration of the race 4. Race routes and starting times remain the same 5. The environment component will be re-invigorated with a new spirit and a new vision for the race 6. Culture will be a point of focus in the village of BOOM and Belize City 7. Fully support the Boom to Manatee Lookout canoe race organized by the BCA for the 21st January 8. Deadline for registration is the 2nd of March 2012 9. Small motor boats needed to conduct safety & rescue on the river for the 4 days of the race who would like to assist the committee please get in touch with Roberto Harrison at 622-7911 10. Unanimous support was given for the appointment of Dr. Aline Harrison (Provost – Galen University) as Co-Chair of the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge organizing committee
The committee reiterates its commitment to the principles of fair play and to uphold the discipline of sportsmanship to the highest degree. In so doing, the committee will only employ the services of sporting professionals to judge the race and to the protest board.
Once again we thank all our sponsors past and present and advise we will be in touch soon to arrange possible and continued sponsorship of the race. The committee expects ever heightened interest in the race as have become every year especially with foreign competitors.
The committee is honoured to bring on this 15th running of the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge in association with Big-H Orange Juice & Vida Purified Water the principal patrons of the race.
La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge Map and Information
La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is a grueling multi-day canoe race traveling a perilous river route across the country of Belize. The route runs West to East along the Macal and Belize Rivers, once the only link between beautiful San Ignacio, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and the bustling port of Belize City. This is a race for everyone (not just professional racers)!
There are 8 divisions for the race:
Family Adventure Race
The race occurs each year in March, coinciding with Baron Bliss Day.
Real time tracking GPS added to La Ruta Maya river challenge
March 9 to the 12 will mark the 15th running of the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. As usual, teams will start the 175 mile long race down the old Belize River at the foot of the Hawksworth Bridge. This year though, there is an added feature to the race. The La Ruta Maya Race Committee and Total Business Solution Limited (TBSL) have teamed up to provide Live Race Tracking via satellite. The partners say the objective is to promote GPS and to expose Belizeans to the recreational application of the technology. The teams will now be able to engage and entertain their family, friends, fans, spectators, and sponsors every step of the way. The GPS device will update the canoes’ positions every 10-15 minutes. Come the day of the race persons can view the real time tracking at www.larutamayalive.com. Users of the service will see information about the teams, their current location, and estimated time of arrival for each race stop.
The event is an arduous, mulit-day canoe race that will take travelers along a formiddable river route as they wind their way throughout Belize. The river challenge, which will take place March 9-12, coincides with Baron Bliss Day each March and will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year.
To help celebrate the milestone, the La Ruta Maya race committee has voted to allow, for the first time, live race tracking via satellite. Each team will receive a waterproof GPS device, which will transmit their location to the event's website. Users will be able to log on and track competitors by team or by division.
As in years past, the 170-mile race will begin in San Ignacio on the first day, March 9, and feature three stops along the way before concluding March 12 in Belize City. Participants will compete in eight different divisions: male, female, mixed, masters, dory, intramural, pleasure craft and a Family Adventure Race. Each team will battle for station prizes, as well as cash rewards presented at the end of the race.
Even though there's money at stake, the main objective for the competitors it to survive the grueling race...and have fun!
Here is the start of the 2011 La Ruta Maya Kayak race in Belize, starting in Cayo and ending 4 days later in Belize City. Frist 3 teams to cross the bridge were Zip Rider, Belize Bank and CPBL, the 2008 winner, lead by Chris Guidis. Chris stills holds the record for the best time overall. A fun experience, happening before the 7th of March every year.
La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge underway Hundreds of spectators flocked to the banks of the Macal River near the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio for the start of the 15th annual running of the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. 72 teams lined up for the start of the race this morning. The first leg of the race ended in Banana Bank. Crossing the finishing line in first position was the Belize Bank Bulldogs, coming in a close second was Oceana while the NICH team rounded up the top three teams. The second leg of the race will leave Banana Bank at six thirty tomorrow morning and will head to Double Head Cabbage. On Sunday the third leg will leave Double Head Cabbage and end up in Burrell Boom Village. On Monday the final leg of the race will make its way to the foot of the Belcan Bridge in Belize City.
Annual Canoe River Challenge begins
Hundreds of spectators turned out early this morning at the banks of the Macal River to witness the launch of the annual Ruta Maya River Challenge that has become a staple of the March ninth activities. At seven this morning, the bugle sounded; more than seventy teams paddled away to Banana Bank, the first stop of the four day race which will end on Monday at the Belcan Bridge. News Five’s Isani Cayetano was in the west for the first leg of the race.
“And there they go, seventy-two teams, they are going to be making their way unto the wooden bridge which is the first station prize and that’s going to be hundred and seventy-five dollars sponsored by Bowen & Bowen. Away they go! There goes Caves Branch Outpost, the Zip Riders. There goes Team NICH.”
At seven o’clock this morning seventy-two teams, paddlers who have been training exuberantly along the Belize River since November of last year, took off from the foot of the Hawkesworth Bridge en route to Banana Bank. It would be the end of the first leg of competition in the annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge.
Roberto Harrison, Organizer, La Ruta Maya
“Well this year’s race we have been planning it for the past three months. [It has been] quite a bit of organization that makes this race successful. As of last night we had seventy-two teams registered and we are expecting a great race for the next four days.”
The sprint to the first station, the bridge connecting the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena had its share of excitement including several turnovers.
“There goes your first spill of the day. They’re off to a very late start and of course they’re already spilling. That’s just part of the fun and the excitement of the river challenge.”
Despite the slight decrease in the number of teams participating in this year’s race it is expected that the perennial powerhouses will place well at the culmination of the weekend competition. The usual suspects include David Gegg’s Zip Riders.
“Well as you know we’re in third place which is a little disappointing but this is just the first leg of the race. The conditions on the river are quite different it’s a lot higher today, as you know, because of all of the rain. We’ll just have to see what happens at the finish line, not the finish line today but the finish line on Monday that’s what counts.”
That condition is, for the most part, the swelling of the Belize River in the wake of heavy rains at the start of the week.
“The level of the river is higher than other times because of the rains in the last three days. We expect a faster race. We expect it to be done in four hours forty-five minutes thereabout.”
Of course, braving the rapids of the Belize River is one of the variables that many of the teams did not prepare for. The Commonwealth team whose canoe was commissioned by Prince Harry last weekend during his first official visit to Belize had its share of obstacles along the way.
According to David Vasquez, Bowen & Bowen as a corporate sponsor, gladly hopped onboard when it was asked to support the initiative.
David Vasquez, Commonwealth Jubilee
“Well we were approached by the British High Commission to cosponsor the Jubilee Team which is in commemoration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee for this year. We gladly participated, we’ve come in for uniforms and also refreshments for the team and everything else but it was an opportunity to work with the British High Commission. We’ve worked with several humanitarian projects with them and this I think was a great opportunity for us to do something that was recognized. You know Ruta Maya is one of the biggest, if not the biggest weekend four-day event in Belize comparing it to Cross Country which is a one-day event but this thing has become so big and international now so we’ve jumped on the opportunity to get some advertising and some brand recognition out of it for the company.”
And advertise they certainly did. Many of the canoes participating in the activity are decorated with elaborate trimmings but in the end only one team would cross the finish line at Banana Bank first. That honor went to Team Belize Bank which easily outshined its archenemy the Zip Riders.
Francisco Cruz, Team Belize Bank
“From Frank’s Eddy we just gone hard and start dig and then dehn bwai staat, I noh know weh gaan on with them cause dehn deh da wah good team. I noh know how dehn get drop.”
“Talk to us about the competition between Belize Bank this time around and Oceana. Oceana came in a mere twenty-two seconds behind you guys. What was that like on the water battling, going back and forth?”
“Well we gone hard and dehn white boy dehn good and we gone all out but dehn bwai still mih dih ketch wih down back so tomorrow we could go harder though.”
Tomorrow’s stage resumes at Banana Bank and proceeds to Double Head Cabbage. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
On Tuesday, we will have full coverage of Ruta Maya as it makes its way to Burrell Boom ending in the City.
La Ruta Maya begins on traditional Baron Bliss Day
We haven’t been hearing much from the Harbor Regatta Committee, but the last word was that there will be the traditional Baron Bliss Harbor Regatta on Sunday, March 12, in the waters adjacent to the BTL Park at Newtown Barracks. There should be sailing boat races in various classes, with many young sailors showing their skills in the little Optimist.
Traditionally, Baron Bliss Day used to be celebrated on March 9, the day of the Baron’s passing, wherever that day fell on the yearly calendar. For convenience and practicality sake, in the modern era the holidays are placed on the weekend, and preferably on a Monday, to facilitate a long holiday weekend, since many folks work on Saturday.
This year’s Baron Bliss Day falls on a Friday, so the holiday will be given on Monday, March 12.
The La Ruta Maya River Challenge, which has become the biggest river event in the land, is a four-day affair, and would normally begin mid-week, to climax on the last holiday of the weekend, which is usually a Sunday. But since the Baron Bliss holiday, or Benefactors Day as some now prefer to call it, is on Monday, it means the Ruta Maya paddlers will hit the water tomorrow, Friday, March 9, Baron Bliss Day.
In fact, March 9 commemorates the passing of the good Baron aboard his yacht the Sea King back in 1926, less than a month after he had signed his will on February 17, in which he bequeathed his sizable fortune to the people of the then colony of British Honduras. Of course, Her Majesty’s courts found a way to snare a significant portion of the Bliss legacy; but Belize nevertheless benefited immensely from the greatest gift that any “Englishman” dead or living has given to the Belizean people. In gratitude, Belizeans have not grudged the baron his last wish, and his story adds to the romantic touristic appeal of this little jewel in the Caribbean basin that is like none other.
Not that we should respect any of our patriots or benefactors any less. But, from what we have seen some present day “lovers and friends of Belize” from foreign lands do in sucking the blood of the innocent Belizean people, there is ample reason to remember the baron, and to make sure our children remember and recognize the goodness of heart and spirit of this man, so they can better discern the treacherous ways of those who come to take away ten thousand times what they pretend to give.
They say one should “put your money where your mouth is.” For that reason, let us big up Sir Isaiah Emmanuel Morter; and big up Baron Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss.
We hope for a fresh east south-easterly wind for the weekend, that boats may sail in the Baron Bliss Harbor Regatta on Sunday, and the kites may fly at the parks and playgrounds throughout the weekend, and Belizeans may enjoy the outdoors on the riverside and the Belcan Bridge on Monday as they await the arrival of the paddlers in the Ruta Maya.
And taking a break now from all that bad news, the 15th Annual La Ruta Maya Race culminated in Belize City on Monday.
After three days on the Belize river, the final leg started out with only one and a half minutes separating the first place team, Belize Bank Bulldogs and second place, the Oceana Wave Makers.
That meant a furious rush to the finish at the Belcan Bridge in Belize City - where an especially fast final leg led to a new record time - and a photo finish between Belize Bank and Team Ziprider and an epic, finish-line spill:...
Jerry Martinez, Manager Belize Bank Overall "At the end Ziprider beat us at the end of the race, we have no complains about that. When Ziprider flipped, they flipped after they past the finish line; we have no objections to the finish."
Erwin Cruz, Belize Bank First Overall "It feels good, it's my third year paddling professional it feels really good. The most challenge was the first day of the race, it was hard."
Jerry Martinez, Manager Belize Bank Overall "This is the fifth time we are winning. The previous four years we won, I expected to win because of the paddlers we had. Since Erwin joined our team three ago, he was developing because we use to paddle in the pleasure division before and he came up, we brought him up to the professional division and this is the third year he is paddling with us but, last year we lost by a second, one second, and the amount of training we put in this year, I knew that we were going to win."
Jerry Rhaburn, Ziprider 1st Place (Sunday's Stage) 3rd Overall "The race came down to training and strategy, we had some American teams they are fast, they are good; but we also have our Belizean boys. I support my guys, I support my brothers and I support my team, so when you paddle under the influence that we paddle it is not difficult or challenging, you just got to withstand the obstacles out there in the river. Last year race was tough this year race was tougher, as you guys can hear they broke the record from last year that we put there, so that just says we've got to come back next year and beat this speed that they set this year. So next year is going to be faster."
Chris Guydis, Team Oceana 2nd Place, La Ruta Maya 2012 "It's the first time we've raced together."
Mike Vincent, Team Oceana 2nd Place, La Ruta Maya 2012 "This is the first time we are in the race together, but I am paddling for thirteen years."
Chris Guydis, Team Oceana 2nd Place, La Ruta Maya 2012 "The most challenging part of the race was when some boats were crashing into us and it wasn't very fair or nice. The most physically difficult part of the race for us was paddling through the canal at the end; the water was very heavy and hard to paddle."
Mike Vincent, Team Oceana 2nd Place, La Ruta Maya 2012 "First of all I wanted to say thanks to the two guys, to leave all the way from Michigan and Canada to come here and paddle with me, thanks to them."
Chris Guydis, Team Oceana 2nd Place, La Ruta Maya 2012 "This is a very hard race for us, it's the middle of winter back home where we come from and so we ski a lot and run a lot and try and paddle when we can find some open water, we get on paddle machines a little bit too."
The new record time for the Belize Bank bulldogs is 16:36:03. Now a little bit of history: Defending Ruta Maya champions Jerry Rhaburn, Efrain and Felix Crux of the Ziprider team were first across the finish line on Monday but they came in sixth overall.
The Belize Bank Bulldogs: Ervin, Amado and Daniel Cruz claimed a $2,000 grand prize and the Kinich Ahau jade head trophy for the fifth time.
VIDEO: New technology tracks La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge
And while the La Ruta Maya organizers say that the event had grown leaps and bounds over the past 15 years, this year, the race also involved a special feature for online fans. People halfway across the world could view the race live online via GIS technology. Managing Director of Total Business Solutions, Loretta Palacio, explains how the technology works and what it offers.
Palacio says that her company is able to also carry the Annual Cross Country Cycling Classic. The only requirement is that the organizers need to forward the names of the teams or others who are interested in being a part of the coverage to Total Business Solutions in advance.
La Ruta Maya River Challenge is an annual four day canoe race that starts under the historic Hawskworth Bridge in San Ignacio, Cayo and finishes at the Belcan Bridge in Belize City. This event is takes local and international participants on an adventure down the 175 miles of the Belize Old River which empties out to the Caribbean Sea. Every day there is an overnight stop which allows participants and fans to enjoy the evening at each destination – the first stop is at Banana Bank, then Bermudian Landing and lastly, Burrell Boom.
The competition occurs during the Baron Bliss Day ( March 9th) celebrations and promotes environmental conservation by bringing awareness to keep Belize’s waterways clean and preserving the surrounding natural beauty.
Here are images of La Ruta Maya River Challenge 2012
HawskWorth Bridge - San Ignacio, Cayo
Participants are rushing to gain lead
The first team to cross the "Wooden Bridge" wins the first prize
Transportation isn't a problem
Women aren't left out in this competition!
Double Head Cabbage, one of the many colorful village names in Belize
The service team hard at work!
Spectators crowd the riverbanks throughout the race
Image taken as participants take off on the last day of the race - March 9th (Baron Bliss Day)