Canoe teams and their managements are completing final preparations to
the challenge of the upcoming La Ruta Maya canoe race on the Mopan and
Belize Rivers. Competition is expected to be quite stiff with over a
hundred teams competing for an estimated $60,000 dollars cash prize this

Competitors will push off from San Ignacio at first light March 8 on the
first leg of the grueling three-day race, paddling to make the best time
the end of the first stage at Banana Bank Ranch.

The canoers will pit their wits and stamina against the river as they
for Bermudian Landing, where they will bed down for the night. After
limbering up sore muscles, they will continue on to Burrel Boom where
third leg ends. After a night's rest, they will be up at the crack of
on Sunday, March 11 for the final lap of the race.

The river will come alive with the sounds of human exertion and paddles
will flash and splash as the crews endeavour to push themselves over the
finish line first.

In Belize City, the crowds will gather at Belcan Bridge to cheer on
brave athletes.
Alex Lisby, Armin Lopez and Leroy Romero of the Black Rock Lodge Racing
team won last year's race in 22 hours 31 minutes and 56 seconds, besting
other teams to add their names to the record book of winners of the La
Maya River Challenge.

Sponsors contrive different tactics in an attempt to give their team the
edge. Wild rumours are flying around the racing camps that the Penner
is preparing to enter up to four teams. This is all in the game. Some
believe such strategies will give them an advantage, but that does not
guarantee a win.

Race organizer Orlando Harrison said, "This year is proving that the
is evolving not only in a test of strength and endurance, but as in all
other major sports a challenge full of strategical moves. For example,
several sponsors are registering more than one team, which of course
increases their chance for a win; but this by no means ensures them the
glory of winning the La Ruta Maya Extreme River Challenge.

"This year's race is bigger, and this is a fact, not just words. Last
there were no teams from Punta Gorda; so far six teams from that
have registered. Last year the Bradley trio: Cindy Carico, Cathy
and Edith Young were the first women's team to complete the race. This
is proving to be more vibrant in that category as a trio from New Mexico
U.S.A. have been training here for several weeks.

"We will not blow our own horn. To see that the race is growing, all the
masses have to do is come out on March 11 at the Belcan Bridge and see
themselves that this race is emerging as the biggest annual sporting
in Belize."