12th Annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge Comes Up This Weekend

The 12th Annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge <http://www.larutamayabelize.com/main/default.aspx> comes up this Friday. The 179-mile-long race has become one of the major attractions during the 9th of March holiday. Today we spoke to the organizer of the race, Orlando Harrison.

Orlando Harrison; Chairman of the La Ruta Maya Challenge Committee
“Back in 1998 when my company Big H was launching Vida Purified Water, we were looking for an avenue to launch the product on the market and we thought of several avenues going the way of some others where you put up a disco box and a tent and some signs … and the idea at that time of the 9th of March Regatta had already died down, and we felt that it was an opportunity for us to bring back that event and give back to the community while at the at same time promoting ourselves. This is what it has become to be, much more than we had expected. So far we have had 47 teams registered, but of course much of the teams don’t come in until the final moments, so we are targeting between 80 and 90 teams this year. The stops are at Banana Bank the first day, Bermudian Landing the second day, Boom the third day and then finally into Belize City under the Belcan Bridge.”
Of course the safety of the paddlers is also a concern. The Belize Disaster Response and Rescue Team in the person of Mario Castellanos is in charge of the logistics of the race.

Mario Castellanos; B-DARRT Representative
“B-DARRT has experience with the rescue missions already and they have been with the La Ruta Maya for some time now. We make sure that the paddlers are aware of the dangers in the river. We have noticed that there are a lot of debris and trees that make it dangerous for the paddlers between Banana Bank and Bermudian Landing and between Iguana Creek to Banana Bank. So what we have done, we have in place land crew and in boats, and both crews have rescue technicians, medical and First Aid personnel and the support crew from the land as well. We also ensure that the paddlers are safe and show the paddlers the most dangerous parts of the river; the most dangerous part of the river will be from San Ignacio to Banana Bank where they have a lot of rapids and people could turn over or run into trees, dehydration … but I must also mention that we have a culture night in San Ignacio on Thursday Night, and then we had a team song completion and the song that won was done by Andre Neal, Row to the Left, Row to the Right team song, and we also promote the environment as well.”

The race also promotes the importance of clean water ways. Following the race the award ceremony and fair will be held at the Belize City Center grounds. The La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge will be carried live on Love FM.