Galen Warriors win 5th Annual Eco-challenge, Education and fun combine at the Reef Festival

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 17            April 30, 2009

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Galen Warriors win 5th Annual Eco-challenge
Galen Warriors take the top prize.

Caye Caulker's team, the Lazy Lizard, took second.

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Jimmy Polonio and Rafael Alvarez placed third.

The starting line was at the old football field.

Paddlers get to experience virgin mangrove swamplands.

Galen University had the only female participant, Deangela Wolley.

Spectators eagerly await the arrival of the paddlers.

The most creative team: G & R – Ricky Luna & Gildon Belisle. Gildon also took home the "I’ll never do this race again" prize!

Oldest paddler: Lawrence!


For the fifth consecutive year, the Ambergris Caye Lagoon-Reef Eco Challenge took place and this year 44 paddlers strived to make it to the finish line. This two-day kayak race took all participants around the island through channels flanked by thick mangrove and other flora, as well as on open sea, for a total of 42 miles. Paddlers arrived at Central Park where a throng of supporters, family members and friends eagerly waited for the kayaks to arrive. The Reef Radio kept everyone enthused with a live coverage of the race. At 10:30 a.m. Central Park was practically empty but as the kayakers made their way, the park had spectators lining the beach, on docks, on speed boats and even the parasail in the hopes to catch a glimpse of the winners.

        Twenty two teams battled it out for Eco-challenge supremacy, and at the end of the two day run, newcomer Galen University took top honors. Saturday, April 25th, the first day, was the longest route for the racers. This included paddling through the western side of the island. The pressure was on for some because there deadline to be met or teams risked disqualification. According to some of the participants there was no way [they] were going to be towed back, so that gave them heavy determination to meet the first destination. The strong winds blowing from the west on that early, not-so-bright morning didn’t make it any easier for any of the paddlers.

        Teams fought the currents and made their way to the campsite at Robles Point where participants commiserated and shared their adventures. “I was chased by a peccary,” commented one, highlighting the reason behind the race. “We wanted our participants to get a one-on-one experience with nature and every year we know we achieve that,” commented organizer Elito Arceo.

        After a remarkably refreshing rest, the second day of the race arrived with some nice clouds and a threat of rain. Soon enough though, the sky brightened and light shone through. Paddlers continued their arduous battle; the last 13 miles of the race might have sounded like nothing compared to the previous day’s mile log, but once out on the water, the wear and tear came on full blast. Once again, the top three teams from the day before were in top form, and ahead of the race. At the park, once all kayaks had made it in, a point tally was conducted. At a brief ceremony, winners were announced. On top were the Galen Warriors, Ervin Cruz and Jesus Flores, young and strong teenagers showed who was boss and took home bragging rights, $3,000 and a $300 bar tab at Lazy Lizard. Second place was Immer Perez who this year had Salva as his partner (last year he could not get a partner so he brought a sack of sand from Caye Caulker as his partner) and managed to secure his $2,000 prize. Third place were the proud We Nuh E-Z team comprised of Jimmy Polonio and Rafael Alvarez who won $1,000.

        Much kudos has to be given to all junior teams that signed up and made it all the way to the finish line. “All of them said they want to do it again next year,” stated Arceo. In the Junior Category, Sergio Lopez and Byron sponsored by Reef Radio took home first place, second was taken by the Rocky Waves team with paddlers Alex Escalante and Ernesto Gomez Jr. while third was taken by G&R – Ricky Luna and Gildon Belisle.

        Huge thanks go out to the amazingly supportive community and sponsors. Thanks to them, everyone was a winner at the end of the race.

Seniors 1st Place – Galen Warriors – Ervin Cruz & Jesus Flores - $3000 + 300 bar tab at Lazy Lizard
2nd Place – Lazy Lizard – Immer Perez & Salva - $2000
3rd Place – We Nuh E-Z – Jimmy Polonio &  Rafael Alvarez - $1000

Juniors
1st Place – Reef Radio – Sergio Lopez & Byron - $1000 + 2 Round trip Tickets on Tropic Air
2nd Place – Rocky Waves – Alex Escalante & Ernesto Gomez - $500
3rd Place – G&R – Ricky Luna & Gildon Belisle - $300

Overall Placement
1st Place – Galen Warriors – Ervin Cruz & Jesus Flores - $3000 + 300 bar tab at Lazy Lizard
2nd Place – Lazy Lizard – Immer Perez & Salva - $2000
3rd Place – We Nuh E-Z – Jimmy Polonio &  Rafael Alvarez - $1000
4th Place –  Reef Radio – Sergio Lopez & Byron
5th Place –  Searious Dilligaf – Martin John Leslie & Gilbert Spain
6th Place – Nuttin Nice – Ariel Valdez & Dion Samuels
7th Place – Still Searious – Wilfred Leslie & Horacio Guerrero
8th Place – Blue Steel – Dimas Guerrero & Alfonso Guena
9th Place – Slippery Dicks - Adolfo (fito) Duran & Neftali Lemus
10th Place – Unda Da Sea – Alonzo Flota & Bruce Roberts
11th Place – We Di Go On – Cesar Rivero & John Romero
13th Place – G & R – Ricky Luna & Gildon Belisle
14th Place – The Mariner’s – Briayan Marin & L. Marin
15th Place – Tropic Turbines – Isaac Cabb & Pierre Obardo
16th Place – Speed Boys – Dennis Borjas & Joel Reyes
17th Place – We Wha Mek It – Elmer Rodriguez & Earl Southerland
18th Place – Tropic Pistons – Luis Yamil Marin & Kerry Duncan
19th Place – Panty Rippas – Joshua Nuρez & Ramon Gonzalez
20th Place – We Wha Pass - Justin Ford & Lawrence

Fun Categories
Most creative Team G & R – Ricky Luna & Gildon Belisle
Dog tired Team Panty rippers – Ramon Gonzalez
Best sportsmanship Tropic Pistons – Luis Marin & Kerry Duncan
Grumpiest Tropic Turbines – Isaac Cabb
I’ll never do this race again Gildon Belisle – Team G & R
Team that got lost Team We wah mek it – Elmer Rodrigues & Earl Sutherland
Neck and Neck Team Lazy Lizard – Immer Perez & Salva
Conservationists Award Reef Radio – Sergio Lopez & Byron
Oldest Participants Team We Pass – Lawrence



Education and fun combine at the Reef Festival
The sandy mermaid!

Berta, Elsa and Noel.

Eric, Mariano, Mariel

Samantha Milian's beautiful poster took top prize.

This poster entry was most creative and decorative.


With sun, sand, kids all makes the perfect recipe for a fun day at the beach. That is just what everyone had last Sunday at Central Park which was the perfect venue for 2009 Reef Festival. What stared over a decade ago, was the highlight of Reef Week, a week dedicated to dissemination of information on the importance and value of the reef.

        This year, The San Pedro Sun along with Wil Alamilla, took part in organizing the children events which included a poster competition, sand castle building competition and a bubble table which entertained the kids all day. Poster Competition Winner 1st place - Samantha Milian - $100, courtesy of Smart! 2nd place - Alexis Roca and Giselle Alamilla - $75, courtesy of Smart! 3rd - Isolene Bailey, Ashley, Gian Carlo - $50, courtesy of Smart! Sand Castle Competition Winners 1st place- Eric, Mariano, Mariel 2nd place- Isolene Bailey, Princess Bailey, Gian Carlo, Brian and Sebastian 3rd place - Elsa, Berta and Noah



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