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Mar 8, 2016

Koop Sheet Metal Wins La Ruta Maya Canoe Race

La Ruta Maya canoe race in its 19th year reached another milestone in entertainment despite a mighty downpour just before Friday’s start from below the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio. As usual, the male elites spring to the front with Koop Sheet Metal displaying a perfect start from among the 150 canoes; that featured 7 categories of racing. The 170 mile of paddling is package in 4 stages, with stage 1 traveling from San Ignacio to Banana Bank for some 49 miles. Not expectedly the start produces some problems like being able to stay inside the canoe and certainly to be able to absorb the prevailing condition of water…water everywhere as the downpour returns, impairing the visibility of the athletes. Day one ends just as it started with the rains falling down and Koop Sheet Metal is in front taking the opening stage in 4 hours 44 minutes 53 seconds; defending Champions B.T.L. Cobbs Arms stays within striking distance some 16 seconds behind. 10-time champions Belize Bank Bulldogs are 2:23 off the pace in 3rd place, followed by NICH as the 4 top teams execute the separation from the others in the heat. And the rains came down again.

Stage 2 finds better weather as Koop Sheet Metal maintains its lead passing through Saint Paul’s Bank. Westrac has mounted a chase while B.T.L. Cobbs Arm refuses to lose sight of the lead canoe. At the finish line, 30 miles later, Westrac edges out Koop Sheet Metal by a second for the stage win. B.T.L. is 20 seconds behind the leaders and a good mighty sleep is demanded after the journey. The best time today is 5:21:04 by Westrac and the longest time is the 9 hours 10 minutes 30 seconds posted by Los Cacahuetes in the Pleasure Class.

We fast forward to the finish of stage 3 that’s from Double Head Cabbage to Henderson Bank at Burrell Boom. The race finds the leader, Koop Sheet Metal fighting off a strong challenge from the Belize Bank Bulldogs to win in 4:22:22. B.T.L. Cobbs Arms would win the battle for 3rd place in 4:22:44, forcing NICH into 4th. Meanwhile, the Programme for Belize would expose the struggle in the NICH canoes as they step up to take 5th place and then the NICH team shows up in the 36 mile stage. As we go into the final 25 mile stage to Belize City, the overnight rain had rendered the bank of the Belize River into a soggy mess that would put fashion against commitment. Alas, the name brand footwear would finish a distant second. The drama they had come to behold was about to begin. 3 days ago, the 2016 presentation got off to a roaring start in San Ignacio as some 150 canoes lined up to begin the journey and today, they’re still in the hunt to win one of the featured 7 categories in the final and 4th stage.

Stage one from San Ignacio to Banana Bank is measured at 60 miles, to Double Head Cabbage 49 miles, to Boom 36 miles and today we make the 25 mile run to finish line at the Swing Bridge in Belize City. We again zoom in on the Elite Male Class to feature the start of the final stage as the Koop Sheet Metal team try to fend off a challenge from the defending Champion Cobbs Arm just 51 seconds off the pace and the 10-time champion, Belize Bank Bulldogs, who need to erase a 2 minute 13 second time deficit. We must mention Programme for Belize in OCEANA who are some 20 minutes off the pace but have vowed to win this 25-mile stage. The battle begins in earnest as Koop Sheet Metal fights off the challenges from the Bulldogs to take the premie at the Burrell Boom Bridge. At Manatee Lookout, NICH has asserted itself into the lead; Koop Sheet Metal is contented to just hang on to the pace, Westrac is focused on making a move, the Bulldogs strive for some momentum in 4th place. While the OCEANA craft ponders if they can fulfill their bold prediction of a final stage win. For B.T.L. Cobbs Arm the going is tough as they try to maintain their hopes of shaving off the Koop Sheet Metal lead.

Some 5 miles from the finish line at the Haulover Bridge, Koop Sheet Metal steps up the pace; Westrac has moved up to 2nd, Belize Bank 3rd; NICH has begun to show signs of struggle. And Prorgamme for Belize shows the will to fulfill their stated intention. A vast crowd has emerged to witness the finish of the 2016 edition of La Ruta Maya as the mad dash to the tape begins. The battle for the final stage win is between frontrunner Koop Sheet Metal and Programme for Belize. the opportunity to fulfill the vow to take the stage gives the youngsters that fierce determination to reach for the win. As they grab the stage in 2 hrs 40 mins 25 seconds, edging out Koop Sheet Metal by a full second, Westrac holds on to 3rd place in 2:40:38, beating out Belize Bank Bulldogs who have to settle for 4th in the stage. It’s a despondent NICH who floats in for 5th place who as the runner up from last year were hoping to be in the winner’s circle.

Met the champions, Hener Cruz, Jerry Canto and Jerry Rhaburn, Captain of Koop Sheet Metal Team who took top honors in a total time of 17:08:46. 2nd place overall went to B.T.L. Cobbs Arm with its tital time of 17:10:24 and from left to right, we find Clayton Cobb, Eric Cano and the Captain Roy Cano. Coming in 3rd is the Belize Bank Bulldogs; of note is that the Belize bank Bulldogs have won 10 titles. Armin Lopez is the Captain; Amado Cruz and Byron Cruz make up the 2016 team. Overall winners in the female class, the Belize Bank Bulldogs and team leader Anna Camp who has won the La Ruta Maya 11 times. in the meantime, IMPACT won the mixed class in 18:34:04, featuring Roberto Cobb, Mileni Cobb and Brady Ayala. Mileno and Brady are 1st timers.

And so we look, we look forward to the 20th edition when we find out who will be able to wrest the crown from Koop Sheet Metal.

 

Jah overall, I’m James Adderley.

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