The Great Belize Race
Article by Wendy Auxillou
December 15, 2005

It's getting close to that time of the year when canoe enthusiasts will
soon begin readying themselves for the annual La Ruta Maya Canoe Race.
Thanks to progressive thinking on the part of the folks at Big H down Cayo
way, this race has become a must-see-and-must-participate staple for many of
us. Having been a sponsor of one of the trophy-winning canoes for four
years straight, a super avid fan of the race myself, and having done the
pilgrimage from Hawksworth to the Belcan bridge twice over, I can
categorically state that the comradraie, enthusiasm and festiveness of these
four race days are second to none. In fact, I have become so addicted to
the race I look forward yearly to seeing and competing with the folks I have
befriended over the years at the race: the Cruz girls (Coi and Anna) from
Esperanza, the Bedrans from San Ignacio, the always cheery folks from Fedex,
Kathy and the Neon Plastics crew, the Sagitun girls, my son's favorite - the
Swamp Witches, and countless others who are too numerous to be mentioned
here. And I have never ceased to be infected by my main paddler, Allie's,
enthusiasm and dedication to making sure a trophy is won. It is an
excellent race, no less, a race with an excellent cross section of dedicated
fans, a race that is uniquely Belizean, and definitely a race that our
entire nation can be proud to call our own. This is the first in several
years that I will be unable to sponsor a race - too many kids in school -
but my heart will definitely be on the road again (and with Allie) during
the annual pilgrimage that has become the Ruta Maya Race.
But what if we could take this same race and make it bigger? What if we
could start with the Ruta Maya race, add to it the Cycling Classic, the
Kayak race from Toledo way, maybe some swimming and every other type of
activity that would allow for sightseeing throughout the entire country of
Belize, and that would make it a sort of relay race passing through every
district in Belize showcasing the strengths of that district somehow?
For example: day one could be some type of river race from Corozal
to Orange Walk down the New River, day two could be a bicycle race from
Orange Walk to Belize City, day three could be a sailboat race from Belize
City to San Pedro, day four could be a swimming race from San Pedro to Caye
Caulker, day five a windsurfing race from Caye Caulker back to Belize City,
day six a cycling race from Belize City to San Ignacio, day seven a canoe
race to Belmopan, day eight a marathon from Belmopan to Dangriga.... you get
my drift? With enough exposure, this could become the single biggest race
in the region.
What if we called the race the GREAT BELIZE RACE? What if the Tourist
Board thought that marketing Belize in this way was a great idea, and that
rather than remaining a stagnant entity playing the sole role of tourism
watchdog breathing down the necks of the small mom-and-pop businessowners
struggling to make a living, that it would begin to put more of its muscle
into promoting tourism in a big way such as this instead? What if our
fourteen day Great Belize Race, due to its uniqueness, began to attract
international media attention in much the same way the dog sled race in
Alaska or the world sailing races, or even our beloved Ruta Maya Canoe race
do? And what if the Great Belize Race would eventually become so huge as to
attract a loyal fan club of thousands of people, international even, that
follow it every step of the way, through every district in Belize, enjoying
the best of Belize, for fourteen straight days? What if by following the
Great Belize Race for fourteen straight days, folks got to experience
personally the beautiful birds and wildlife of Belize, the cayes of Belize,
sports and watersports in Belize, Belizean culture, and everything unique
that makes us who we are - all in one package full of adventure and
What do you think they would think?
Questions or comments: please write to me at [email protected]

Wendy Auxillou
Auxillou Beach Suites
Caye Caulker, Belize