The Scenic New River Plays Witness To The 2012 Lamanai River Challenge Canoe Race

This past Saturday 16 canoe teams from across the country gathered at the Lamanai Maya Ruin to participate in the Lamanai Canoe River Challenge 2012 organized by the National Institute of Culture and History. With a total of 6 categories, the 32.2 miles race started at about 9:20am with the teams expecting to cross the finish line at around 2:00pm. Without a doubt, it was a long and challenging race with the last teams crossing the finish line just minutes before the 7 hour deadline. Our camera was there to capture all the excitement.

Hipolito Novelo- Reporter

This past Saturday the New River which stretches 32.2 miles from the ancient Maya Ruin of Lamanai to the Banquitas House of Culture in Orange Walk Town, became a river highway for 16 teams that participated in the Lamanai Canoe River Challenge 2012 organized by the National Institute of Culture and History, NICH.

Brian Woodard, Associate Director, NICH

It was pretty interesting because of the water course its different there's a lot of curves you can get lost and stuff like that and this morning when the canoe race started there was a couple canoes that cap sided, rescue boats had to go and flip them back and so forth. There was a lot of people who were not familiar with the water because it was slow and still and so forth like that but it was pretty good I think we just saw the last canoe coming in it was approximately six hours and let's say 48 minutes the last canoe came in but it was fun for everyone.

Screen_shot_2012-05-14_at_8.12.53_PMThe race was comprised of 6 categories namely:  masters, juniors, male, female, mixed and pleasure. The 12 station cash prices, adding up to over $9,000, prompted the 16 teams to paddle their way to the finish line putting their strength to the test. With each stroke of the paddle, the waters of the scenic New River seemed like the biggest challenge ever.

But at the end of the race there could only be one first place winner for each category. In the Master's class, Wat-A-Ting came in first crossing the finish line at 5 hours and 10 minutes followed by The Grumpy Old Men who finished with 6 hours 23 minutes on the clock.

John Swirl, Wat-A-Ting

"I paddled the La Ruta Maya like 13 times and I paddled some races we're the Masters, champions for La Ruta Maya as well."

Hipolito Novelo, Reporter

"So was this race like a piece of cake for you?"

John Swirl, Wat-A-Ting

"Definitely not, this race is a lot different than La Ruta Maya in that the river is different the old Belize River is flowing and there's a lot of current and not quite as many tight turns and this river is very shallow and no current very hot and especially the last part of the race between the bridge, the toll bridge and Banquitas there's a lot of hair pin turns which makes it quite difficult especially when you're tired."

The male category saw fierce competition between two power houses- the Belize Bank Team and the team of NICH. But at the cross of the finish line, NICH boasted victorious with 4 hours and 36 minutes.

Oscar Cano, NICH

"Well I know our opponents were Belize Bank and we just tried to stay with them and tried to do something on the finished line to try and get away from them. We got away from them from the toll bridge that was the idea from one beginning stay with them and try and it works today."

Armin Lopez, Belize Bank

"Well those guys had it you know we didn't have any more so they just dropped us. It was there time to win and those guys are good you know I believe they deserved to win this race they were just better than us."

For a moment in the race, the rain poured down, but for the What-Ever-Boys Team, who came in first in the Pleasure Category, no rain could stop the reggae jam.

Daryl Williams, Whatever Boys

"We were training hard for it and we knew how to pace our selves because we were competing in intramural and so we won our division and we were trying to catch the third place because we wanted the third finish as well but after the last bridge we started to drop off."

In the Female Category, SMART Belize came in first with 5 hours and 28 minutes while the Spits-Fire team came in second with a time of 6 hours and 46 minutes.

Nyssa Batty, Spits-Fire

"It was grueling a challenge, like a real challenge but hey we made it."

Hipolito Novelo, Reporter

"And what are some of the challenges you saw throughout the race?"

Nyssa Batty, Spits-Fire

"Well the boats came and you know they made waves and we had to try to not flip over which we did like two times but we recovered so."

Hipolito Novelo, Reporter

"Are you proud you actually finished the race?"

Nyssa Batty, Spits-Fire

'Of course that's all I wanted to do- finish the race."

Hipolito Novelo, Reporter

"And how many months have you been practicing?"

Nyssa Batty, Spits-Fire

"Honestly one and a half months. I just got into this but I'm not giving up yet."

Screen_shot_2012-05-14_at_8.13.38_PMOne team that captured much of the crowd's attention during the race is a trio of boys ages 13 and 14. Hailing all the way from Burrell Boom the trio formed the only team that participated in the junior division.

Mathew Mark Mask, Burrell Boom

"It was punishing, long and really hard to complete."

Hipolito Novelo, Reporter

"What are some of the difficulties of challenges that you saw throughout the river?

Mathew Mark Mask, Burrell Boom

"Dead water, sugar barges and boats flying past us."

Hipolito Novelo, Reporter

"And what mentality did you came in the race with? Did you think it would be easy, hard, or difficult?"

Mathew Mark Mask, Burrell Boom

"It actually thought it would be easy because every boat that passes says oh the finish lines right there the finish lines right there but then we started paddling and we noticed their just joking with us because after a while we noticed we were pretty much on our own."

Hipolito Novelo, Reporter

"At what point of the race did you find it would be difficult for you to actually cross the finish line?"

Mathew Mark Mask, Burrell Boom

" Toll Bridge, that was probably the main spot because when we passed there we thought it was going to be an easy 45 minutes to the finish line, but wasn't easy."

First place winners of each category received a cash prize of $800.00 plus one team trophy while second place winners walked away with $500.00 cash prize plus one team trophy.

We extend our greatest appreciation to Lamanai Eco Tours for providing us with a boat to follow the race.

CTV3