The Sights and Sounds of La Ruta Maya 2017
Another highly competitive race in the Belikin La Ruta Maya Challenge concluded on Monday in Belize City near the Bottom Dalla Store. Two new teams went on to place in the canoe race which kicked off in the twin towns of San Ignacio/Santa Elena on Friday. News Five’s Duane Moody followed the race from start to finish and in addition to the grueling competition there were side stories of endurance that enriched the race. The youngest team to compete hailed from San Ignacio. Here is that story.
Duane Moody, Reporting
The Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge was the highlight of the extended weekend. Paddlers took to the Belize River to conclude some one hundred and forty miles over four days to win the coveted title as champs. At the end of it all, the three-man team of NICH won overall in the competition, with Smart Warriors taking second place. Defending Champion Koop Sheet Metal along with NICH and Smart Warriors were neck-and-neck throughout the competition, literally seconds between each other.
Jerry Rhaburn, Koop Sheet Metal
“I know the race was going to be difficult because we all train with each other, we all do the same legs. From the training camp, I know Warriors was going to be the fast team cause they are young. We spend a lot of time together and today, all I wanted to do was stay with the guys because the race came down to strategy and we tried to stay with the guys and we just make one mistake and the race change.”
Smart Warriors, a fairly new team to the sport including Amado Cruz and brothers Wilberto and Kenrick Daniels, was the underdogs in the canoe race. The team showed how formidable it was during the second leg of the competition where they managed to take third place at the Double Head Cabbage finish line, even after a hiccup hours before.
Wilberto Daniels, Smart Warriors
“We had a good start and like half an hour in the race we had a spill, we flipped. The other top three teams, they opened a two minute gap and we had to chase. We are kinda burned out because of that, but we managed to catch and we made up our mind that they’re not gonna go to tape without us.”
Kenrick Daniels, Smart Warriors
“This race was really tough. All of us train together but it was really tight. We only got second place by about ten seconds or so, so it was really tight. Today was the best day for us; we came in first and so we moved up to second place. See we don’t train much in Cayo and the water is a little different for us so I mean those days we kinda slip back a little, but not that much as well. So here we did out thing. We did what we did in our waters and I am proud of my team, proud of me; this is the second year doing it in the pro division.”
One of the outstanding teams was Baby Jays, a three-boy team from Cayo consisting of nine year old Daniel Cruz, thirteen year old Javier Guardado and fifteen year old Enrique Cruz. Like their parents, the boys took on all four legs of the canoe race; coming in the top twenty overall in the race. They also placed third in the junior category.
Javier Guardado, Baby Jays
“We are starting.”
“How long have you been doing it?”
“About a year.”
“How was the second leg of the race for you?”
“How do you feel after doing this leg?”
Enrique Cruz, Baby Jays
“I feel proud because this dah my first time.”
“You guys are going to go all the way, straight through to the end?”
“What made you start to do paddling?”
Daniel Cruz, Baby Jays
“I saw that they took it easy so I wanted to paddle.”
“What made you want to do paddling?
“When I saw the paddle.”
“Now how was this for you so far? This is day two…you did forty-nine miles ina di first one and now sixty. How was it for you so far?”
…indeed to take on the grueling four days of man versus river is not only an expensive venture, but takes mental determination and physical endurance.
“Everybody think Ruta Maya is a four-day race. Ruta Maya is not a four-day race; Ruta Maya is a four-month race. We train for four months for this race. So people that would say oh it is just a four day race, we just gonna train a couple of weeks for that; that is not the way it works. Sometime you peak before the time; they all depend on how you train.”
Henry Cruz, NICH Team
“We work out three times for the week from San Ignacio to Banana Bank; that’s the hardest part because it is shallow waters, it is tougher. That’s the route we work out mostly.”
“It’s all about the mind and working out a lot. You know just staying fit and we don’t sleep late at night. When we are training, we take care of our bodies and so you gotta be strong for the race.”
Duane Moody for News Five.