Marathon through the Chiquibul for Macaw Awareness
Over the weekend, a first of its kind Chiquibul Challenge was put off by the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic, which rescues wildlife in the Chiquibul. Friends for Conservation and Development, the co-managers of the largest national park, worked hand in hand with the organization. The event is a fund raiser in support of the scarlet macaw conservation work being done within the Chiquibul. At the invitation of one of the biggest financiers for FCD, the Protected Areas Conservation Trust (PACT), News Five’s Duane Moody and cameraman Kenroy Michael joined in the expedition.
Over a hundred and twenty persons, including participants and support staff took on the challenge in the twenty-kilometer and forty-kilometer as well as ranger categories of the Chiquibul Challenge. The latter started as early as five-thirty a.m. on Sunday from the La Cuevas Research Center in the heart of the Chiquibul to Guacamayo Bridge and back.
Dr. Isabelle Paquet-Durand, Organizer, Chiquibul Challenge
“The Chiquibul Challenge is a race; it’s a half marathon or a marathon and its objectives were to bring people out to see the beauty of the Chiquibul, learn a little bit about the challenges of the Chiquibul and to do something for fitness and enjoy themselves and maybe win a lee prize.”
The journey to the Chiquibul started as early as Saturday morning as the caravan traveled for almost four hours from San Ignacio to the Chiquibul. The panoramic view of the Pine Ridge and the pristine jungle that holds a wealth of flora and fauna including mineral deposits was a treat; it was topped by the heartwarming welcome to the Chiquibul by almost a dozen scarlet macaws.
Aside from a comprehensive presentation from Executive Director Raphael Manzanero of Friend of Conservation and Development on the Chiquibul, the participants and support staff got a one-of-a-kind bird’s eye view of the Chiquibul following a quick trek to the bird tower, smacked in the center of the forest. Thereafter, camping tents were set up at the Las Cuevas Research Center, the Tapir Camp and Guacamayo facilities before calling it a night.
As early as three-thirty a.m., participants were up and made their way to the starting line. And after several hours, the top runners, in the male and female categories came running pass the finish line.
Garreth Bermudez, Male Winner, 20K Marathon
“Coming in, I just stayed focus. From yesterday, I did my little running and I did Ruta Maya last week so it was a good help. So when it was time to race, I just did what I had to do.”
Kira Eiley, Female Winner, 20K Marathon
“This is actually my off season. So right now I will just go for the fun and then see what time I’ll get after the race to build on that. So it will be a race, but I am not really training for it. My longest mile is ten, so I am not really training right now for it. It was brutal, Belmopan has hills, but Cayo dah wah next story. And it started same way how this one will start tomorrow, as yo start yo go up. So it is a challenge and I am welcoming the challenge.”
Belizean American Kim Samir Espat returned home to compete in the forty-K category, which is approximately twenty-five miles. He finished the race in just over three hours, claiming the title for the longest distance. After an impressive finish, Espat says it is harder than it looks.
Kim Samir Espat, Winner, 40K Marathon
“This was a really hard race. I looked at the elevation profile before the race and I saw that you had a lot of rolling hills in the first third of the race and then a big long downhill. So I knew that the first half would be relatively easy and once you got down to the turnaround point then you had to come back up the hill and most of the return would be uphill with a little bit of rolling hills at the end. So I knew that I had to monitor my effort, monitor my nutrition and make sure I wasn’t overheating.”
The preparation for any athlete or participant of the Chiquibul Challenge is physical and mental.
“It got to do with the mind and the physical because yo mind have to strong and be prepared.”
“Hydrate, eat the proper food…lots of carbs. This is one time when yo could eat yo potato and rice, energy. You get energy from food so you definitely have to eat right and hydrate.”
Duane Moody for News Five.
Also awarded were the youngest participant, at eleven years old and the eldest participant was the Ministry of Health C.E.O., Doctor Ramon Figueroa.