The 2001 La Ruta Maya/Belize River Challenge,
scheduled for March 8th -
11th, 2001, will feature a
San Pedro presence this year. One of two, all-women Peace Corp teams includes
local Jill Hepp of Green Reef. Joining her are teammates Katie Meehan and Liz
Panessa, Peace Corp volunteers from Belmopan and Dangriga. Their team,
"Destiny's Child," is sponsored by Chaa Creek Natural History
Three other locals, men from
San Pedro Town, will also compete. Aaron Hildred, Dan Ellison and Mike Keelan
are being sponsored by Tropic Air.
La Ruta Maya (the Mayan
route) race will launch from beneath Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio on March
8th and paddlers will
struggle for three and one-half days to be the first to reach the BelCan Bridge
in Belize City on March 11th.
Teams will break at Banana Bank, Bermudian Landing and Burrell Boom for the three night
camps of the race. Originally a combined cross-country challenge idea of Luis
Garcia of Radio Ritmo, Richard Harrison of Big H/Vida Water and Mike Green then
of San Ignacio Hotel, this race is considered to be the longest canoe race in
Central America. One of the first sporting events to gain international acclaim,
Paddler Magazine (who entered a team last year)
featured "Surviving La Ruta Maya" as the feature article in their February, 2000
edition. It has also been considered as a preliminary to the world wide "Eco
Challenge" ten-day endurance race.
This year's race
committee is striving for goals of 100 teams and $60,000 in prizes for the 170
mile-plus competition. Mike Green of Chaa Creek Inland Expeditions and chief
official of the race explained, "This is an elapsed time race; the shortest time
wins a first prize of $1000, but the big money lies in station prizes." Station
prizes are won at various intervals and stops along the river race. Prizes
ranging from $300 to $3000 are donated by several different sponsors. Mr. Green
also added, "This is not only a wonderful new sport for Belize, it is also a
boon to the canoe industry." Fiberglass canoes are manufactured in Burrell Boom
and many competing teams design and build their own from local hardwoods. A
majority of the teams are amateurs and last year's heroes, "The Chanona Girls,"
from Belmopan were the first all-female Belizean team to finish the race. This
apparently inspired women from around the country as there are several more
all-female teams competing in 2001.
year's winning professional three-man Cayo team comprised of boatsmen Alex "The
Engine" Lisbey, Armin "Benji" Lopez and Leroy "Iron Man" Romero, who were
sponsored, managed and coached by Julian and Caesar Sherrard of Black Rock
Lodge/Caesar's Place in Cayo. First place in the amateur division went to Sacred
Good luck to all competing from San Pedro
and to everyone who dares to meet the "challenge".