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Feb 27, 1998

Canoe race to take place on Belize River

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When corporate managers of Cayo Tropical Fruits Limited decided to launch their newest product Vida Purified Water, they figured the best way would be to link the occasion with water sports. And once the campaign got underway other companies were quick to jump on the band wagon, or in this case, jump into the canoe. As Julietta Burrowes reports, the launch of Vida Purified Water also marks the probable rebirth of an old sport in Belize.

The day promises to be more than just dorey and bathpan races at the mouth of the old Belize River. Promoters of Big-H fruit juices are sponsoring a river canoe race called “La Ruta Maya River Challenge.” The race will span 175 miles along the Historic Belize River, beginning March sixth at the old wharf in San Ignacio and culminating here in Belize City at the old Swing Bridge on Baron Bliss Day.

Richard Harrison

“It’s not changing the way how we celebrate March the ninth. It’s just enhancing it really. It’s still water sports, however, it’s not only sea now, it includes the river, it includes canoeing and you know that canoeing has a big worldwide following. Canoeing is a big sport worldwide and what we’re doing here is providing a new sport for Belize encompassing people who ordinarily would not have been involved with basketball or tennis or soccer. These are people who primarily are watermen, who live off the water and so on who will be the participants in the race.”

Twelve teams of three have already signed up for the big event. The four day race will make its way up the Belize River: a river which was once used by the Mayas for trading and survival purposes. Today that same body of water is a vital natural resource and the scene of promising economic activity. Each night the participants will rest at a different destination including Banana Bank, Bermudian Landing and Burrell Boom before they make the final stretch to Belize City.

Mariam Roberson

“This is the type of event we need to have in the district and in Belize as a whole. An activity like this that bring the history, it’s a big part of ecotourism, that’s what it’s all about. It’s utilizing what is our culture, what’s our heritage and those kind of sources to get people involved in a very sporty event like this that will eventually turn into a yearly event, I’m sure it will be and will turn into possibly a very, very nice tour that we can now recreate something, that was, that’s been one of our dreams.”

That dream is shared by both the promoters and sponsors and that is to develop tourism along the river, to bring about environmental awareness and to teach about the rich history of the waters. Julietta Burrowes for News Five.

The first place prize is one thousand dollars cash plus a wood carving of the Maya Sun God. There is an entry fee of a hundred dollars per team and interested persons may register at any of the following businesses in San Ignacio: Cayo Tropical Fruits Limited, Martha’s kitchen, Radio Ritmo or the San Ignacio Hotel.

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