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Mar 4, 2014

Final preparations for the Belikin Ruta Maya Challenge

The yearly coming together of paddlers in San Ignacio for the Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is often a spectacle of colors and athletic abilities and with the growing popularity of the race come the inescapability of the advertising dollar.  That’s right; everything from t-shirts to canoes and refreshments is being marketed by the major companies.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano spoke with several corporate sponsors about the growth in popularity of La Ruta Maya and what it means for the development of the sport.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The sixteenth annual Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge commences this Friday.  While there will be many participating teams in various categories at the start of the four-day race, there can only be one winner.  Some will complete the tiring, hundred and eighty-mile paddle and not place, others simply populate a growing enrollment of dropouts.  Whatever the outcome, the Ninth of March Weekend, as it has come to be known, is a convergence of Belizeans from all over the country.  …and where there are many, there is the ubiquity of marketing.

 

Leading that charge is Bowen & Bowen Ltd.  They assumed full sponsorship of the event in 2013.

 

Juan Carlos Cuellar

Juan Carlos Cuellar, Digital Media Coordinator, B&B Ltd.

“Belikin got involved from last year, this is the second time Belikin is actually involved and we saw the opportunity to associate ourselves with a race that has become part of Belize’s history so far.  This is the sixteenth year that it’s running and Belikin being proud of being a heritage of Belize wanted to be associated with a race that was like that.  It’s a four-day race.  We consider it the biggest race of the year and seeing that it makes some stops along the Belize River Valley we also wanted to capitalize on the fact that, you know what, at each of these stops we can celebrate this race and what a better way to celebrate than with Belikin.”

 

Across the race, canoes are emblazoned with the logos of their teams’ respective sponsors.  What the platform provides is full exposure for all companies participating in corporate backing.  Taking advantage of the opportunity is Smart.

 

Ian Courtenay

Ian Courtenay, Public Relations Manager, Smart

“In terms of getting your brand out there and so on, especially if you have one of the teams that is, you know, vying for the lead and so on, you get a lot of coverage.  That being said, it draws a lot of people over the four days and so the activity surrounding the race, the energy, the excitement during the race, as you have teams following, the support crews following and so on; it is almost priceless in terms of the recognition you get out in the public and so on.”

 

The Belize Bank Ltd. has been part of the event’s sponsorship since the challenge began back in 1998.  Aside from being a lasting patron, the company also sponsors an individual team that has proven itself a force to be reckoned with on the watercourse.

 

Misty Michael, Marketing Manager, Belize Bank Ltd.

“This is our sixteenth year sponsoring and seven out of those ten years we have placed a team and six out of the seven years we’ve won.  We’re hoping to win this year and if we do it would be three years in a row and we’d be taking home the Kinich Ahau trophy.”

 

Isani Cayetano

Misty Michael

“In terms of joining forces with Smart and Belikin, as the corporate sponsor of the entire event, what is that like in terms of pooling resources and making sure that things are properly organized leading up to the race?”

 

Misty Michael

“I think it’s really important from where we sit as a sponsor because you always want to make sure that the money that you are contributing to the event is being spent properly and that you are getting value for money.”

 

The race commences at the foot of the Hawksworth Bridge on Friday morning and concludes at the Belcan Bridge on Monday. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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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