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Feb 23, 2011

Countdown to La Ruta Maya River Challenge 2011

It’s the countdown for the annual Ruta Maya Canoe Race that starts at the Macal and ends at the Belize River. This year, more teams, including seven international teams, are expected to sign up for the four day race during the upcoming extended weekend. Momentum is picking up as the day draws closer and competing teams are sharpening their paddling skills. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has a preview of the race.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The fourteenth annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is a little over a week away and preparations for the grueling four-day race from the foot of the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio to the Belcan Bridge in the Old Capital are well underway.

Javier Gutierrez, Public Relations Officer, La Ruta Maya

Javier Gutierrez

“Presently I know that we have approximately seven international teams that have signed [up] along with another few.  But let that not be the problem, usually on the night before the race there is a big, big meeting thats going to be held at Meluchis in San Ignacio and usually Isani this is where all the teams, especially the Belizean teams come in and the signing begins to take place.  A lot of logistics take place during that night as well and I assure you that we are going to have a minimum of eighty [to] eighty-five teams and I guarantee its going to be more but Im putting it at a minimal number.”

What has come to be expected from Ruta Maya is a high dropout rate.  Of the many that will start the approximate hundred and seventy mile competition only a handful will complete the challenge.  Nonetheless it is an event that has grown exponentially since its inception in 1998.

Roberto Harrison

Roberto Harrison, Chairman, La Ruta Maya

“When we started the race in 1998 it was basically friends gathering around and saying “well hear what there is nothing to do for Ninth of March.  Lets try to put something together.”  And we attracted thirty paddlers to come to the river and technology has changed, the perspective of the race has changed and we have definitely had challenging times with developing the race and making it sustainable.”

Despite the initial hurdles the prizes for the challenge are an attraction to its many participants.  Last year’s race was won by Zip Riders, a team of three led by Jerry Rhaburn.

Jerry Rhaburn, Team Captain, Zip Riders (File: March 9th, 2010)

Jerry Rhaburn

“Well today we were just conserving, trying to conserve our energy for the sprint. We wanted to give the fans something to cheer for and at the end of the day it’s a tough race and we had a good game plan for this race; win the first stage by minutes and try to ride in with the guys because we know these guys from Belize Bank, they are a tough team and they’ve been winning the game for a really long time and if you’re not serious you can’t beat those guys.”

Prior to that victory Rhaburn was unable to bring home the title for his team.  This year however, the Zip Riders will face stiffer competition as the total distance paddled will be reduced by several miles.

Javier Gutierrez

“Today its going to be different, we have cut the race by a few miles as well on the second leg.  First it was a total of sixty miles.  This year, we use to go to Bermudian Landing from Banana Bank, now its going to be to Double Head Cabbage.  So its going to be cut significantly by almost one hour and this was done because teams use to be rowing up to twelve oclock at night and it was very difficult for the committee to be pulling in teams at that hour as well.  But yes, today the technology has changed not only in the canoes but as well even the preparation for the paddlers has gone almost berserk.”

Paddlers, Gutierrez says, have upped the ante considerably by incorporating modern technology into the age-old mode of transportation.

Javier Gutierrez

“Today I was talking to Chris, one of the paddlers, hes the present champ and he told me that even the sunglasses are going to be different so that when the water touches it wont smear and it wont remain.  And he has been promoting this type of equipment as well thru some of the businesses in Belize City so that the paddlers can partake in this type of purchasing of this type of equipment as well.  So the race has really blown into a super, super technological standard at this point.”

The Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge commences on March 4th and will culminate on the seventh. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

News Five will be having extensive coverage of the race from start to finish.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Countdown to La Ruta Maya River Challenge 2011”

  1. infuttyanibly says:

    gr8 resrch bro…

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