Jerry Rhaburn, Efrain and Felix Crux of the Ziprider team sponsored by Discovery Expeditions won the 13th annual Ruta Maya River Challenge for the second consecutive year to take the $2,000 grand prize and the Kinich Ahau jade head trophy. The team clocked in at 18 hours and four seconds in cumulative time when they crossed the finish line in front of the Bel-Can Bridge in Belize City on Monday, March 7.
Their arch rivals, Ervin, Amado and Daniel Cruz of the Belize Bank team actually crossed the finish line two seconds before Ziprider, but their cumulative time was one second more! It was the closest of finishes to an intense competition that saw the Zip Rider canoe leading at the wooden bridge to Santa Elena.
The Belize Bank took the lead to win the next two station prizes at Branch Mouth and the Baking Pot ferry. Ziprider however re-took the lead, sweeping the next two $100 station prizes at Iguana Creek and Young Bank Ferry winning the first leg of the race at Banana Bank five seconds ahead of the Belize Bank team.
On the second day the Ziprider canoe passed the Banana Bank Lodge first to win a $100 prize, but Ziprider was stuck in the Belize Bank’s wake after that as the Cruz cousins took the $200 prize at More Tomorrow, another $200 prize at Big Falls, a $100 prize at Willows Bank and the $150 prize; as they won the second stage at Double Head Cabbage three seconds ahead of Ziprider.
The Belize Bank canoe won a $150 prize at the ferry landing on the third day, then Jerry Rhaburn and the Cruz brothers took the $100 prize at Isabella Bank. The Belize Bank canoe surged ahead to win the next two $100 prizes at Flowers Bank and the Belize Water Services treatment plant, but it was the N.I.C.H canoe which won the $150 prize at Burrell Boom, finishing one second ahead of Belize Bank to win the third stage.
The N.I.C.H canoe paddled by the Oscar Cordon, Jimmy Valdez and Armin Lopez finished third on the final leg and were third overall with a cumulative time of 18 hours seven minutes and two seconds.
The 2009 winners Citrus Products of Belize Limited consisting of Chris Guydis, Leon Gillett and Sheldon Seguro, finished fourth overall although they crossed the finish line fifth, with a cumulative time of 18 hours seven minutes and two seconds.
Jane Usher, Christine Jacobs and Delia Hyde paddled their “Peacemakers” canoe, sponsored by the Police Department, to win a $200 first prize and a trophy in the women’s division, even though they finished 36th in 21 hours 25 minutes and 43 seconds.
Megan Aspinal, Bobby Dee and Kimberly Cain paddled their “No Watch Me” canoe to place second in the women’s division with a cumulative time of 24 hours 58 minutes and 34 seconds.
BATSUB’s Stacey Smithson, Rhiannon Creak and Helen Golea placed third in the women’s division, even though they crossed the finish line in 60th position, with a cumulative time of 25 hours 20 minutes and 40 seconds.
Batsub also had the distinction of being the first BATSUB team to ever win a prize in the Ruta Maya, even though BATSUB teams have competed in the Ruta Maya since it began.
Francisca Phaender has paddled every Ruta Maya since it began, dominating the female division with her sisters, so this year she teamed up with Andreas Cobb, and Eric Cano to form the Koop Sheet Metal team which won the mixed team division to capture a $200 prize. They crossed the finish line sixth but finished fifth overall with a cumulative time of 18 hours 26 minutes and 43 seconds.
Janice Leslie and Justin and Eldon Sanchez in their “Lost and Found” canoe, sponsored by Duke Marine, crossed the finish line in 10th position and placed second in the Mixed division, with a cumulative time of 19 hours 10 minutes and 25 seconds.
The third mixed team was the Coast Guard Cutter, which crossed the finish line in 13th position.
The St Ignatius High School team of Sergio Lopez, Byron Cruz and Alfred Lopez, won the intramural division, finishing 12th on the fourth day with a cumulative time of 19 hours 26 minutes and 23 seconds.
The University of Belize “Jaguars” team placed second in the intramural division, crossing the finish line 16th with a cumulative time of 19 hours 49 minutes and 58 seconds.
Darry, Jeffery and Juan Carillo of the Mopan/Border management team won third place in the intramural division finishing 21st.
Jerome Ingram and Neri Waight of the Crimefighters team sponsored by the Police Department, recruited Evelio Flores of the Print Belize team. Flores had helped to dominate the pleasure division in the past, and this time they won the division, finishing 20th.
Jesus Cruz, Rudolph Gentle and Javier Guardado of Print Belize team placed second in Pleasure canoe division, even though they crossed the finish line ahead of the Crimefighters, but Police had the better cumulative time.
Jerry Cante, Elmer and Homer Cruz in the Westrac Auto Parts canoe, paddled across the finish line in 15th position, but placed third in the pleasure division on overall time.
The Searle brothers, Mike and Johnny “Watt”, and Jim Scott paddled their “Watt a Ting” canoe to win the Masters division in 20 hours 57 minutes and 44 seconds even though they finished 27th overall. The Cottonmouth team was the second masters team to finish in 35th position, and the perennial paddlers, the Grumpy Old Men: Dennis Johnson, Joe Fuzy and Jerry Wilkins had to settle for third among the Masters, finishing 38th overall.
The Belize Postal Services team of Keron Cabb, Efrain Quemell and Braulio Zetina won the dory division, even though they finished 18th overall. The other dory team of Belize Press Office did not finish the race.
The Hell Raisers team was one of the last canoes to finish the race, but won the Family Division. An award for perseverance went to the Triple S team.
Ruta Maya organizer Orlando Harrison Jr thanked BATSUB for its outstanding contribution and professionalism as time keepers for the race from the day it began in 1999, with a tinge of regret. BATSUB is downsizing its presence in Belize, and most likely will not be here for the next Ruta Maya River Challenge.