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Mar 6, 2009

Grueling La Ruta Maya 3 day race begins

Story PictureFor the past decade, every March hundreds gather in the wee hours of the morning in San Ignacio for the much anticipated start of the Ruta Maya race. This morning it was no different as despite the rains, the crowd swelled to hear the bullhorn sound and the paddlers push off.

Duane Moody, Reporting
The banks of the Macal River in San Ignacio and Santa Elena were filled with excitement and energy as spectators and competitors of the twelfth annual La Ruta Maya Challenge prepared for its kick off. The event started with entertainment from local artists and the Succotz Marching Band and at seven sharp the race got off. Some ninety plus teams paddled away to complete the first leg of a four-day canoe race.

Orlando Harrison, Chairman, Organizing Comm., La Ruta Maya Challenge
“The race for many years have been increasing in numbers and last year for the first year it fell to the figure of seventy-six canoes and this year we are back up to ninety-four. So we’re pretty excited about that and we feel that it has a lot to do with the race itself. Te interesting part of it is being on the river for the four days of the race. We expect to camp out three nights over four days so tonight we will be in Banana Bank and the following night we stop off at Bermudian Landing and then we will be camping out in Boom for the last night of the race.”

Chairman, Orlando Harrison says spectators along the way provide energy to the competitors.

Orlando Harrison
“The hundred and seventy-nine miles that they have to paddle is a challenge, but what makes the race really interesting is the spectator view. The amount of people that come out and that is what encourages the paddlers. So we expect these numbers to continue to increase over the years to come.”

For onlookers, it is an event for the entire family.

Javier Gutierrez, Spectator
“It’s the twelfth anniversary and truthfully I’ve been there from then.”

Duane Moody
“What is it that you get from it every year?”

Javier Gutierrez
“It’s hard to explain, it’s more like real adrenaline. It’s like drinking a real bottle or two of the best Scotch whisky in the world. Everywhere you stop you meet people. The idea of people enjoying this race; it’s not only the paddles in the river, its the cultural aspect as well—meeting people from all over the country from different villages as you go down the river. It’s hard to explain it’s a beautiful feeling to enjoy that along with your fellow Belizeans.”

Devon Jones, Spectator
“Every year it gets bigger and better and I am a big fan of the la Ruta Maya. I find it to be very interesting.”

Duane Moody
“What do you find interesting about it sir?”

Devon Jones
“Just every year you expect new teams, new people, new arrivals to come into the challenge.”

Duane Moody
“What part of the whole event is it that you like the most?”

Devon Jones
“I really like the beginning.”

The race finished in Banana Bank and at the end of the first leg, Belize Bank team came in with the best time of four hours fifty-eight minutes, followed by the Coup Sheet Metal and C.P.B.L. capturing the third place. Captain Armin Lopez told us what it takes to prepare for the challenge.

Armin Lopez, Captain, Belize Bank Team, Winner of 1st Leg
“We trained from since January and have enough training now and I think we trained the proper way so that’s the reason. And then we used some strategy and we try to waste too much energy and that and we just go with the guys and then we sprint to the finish and that way we got the first leg.”

Ignacio Cruz, Member, Koop Sheet Metal Team, 2nd for 1st Leg
“It’s a very hard day cause everybody is in top shape so we really gotta work hard.”

Duane Moody
“Do you feel that you guys have the chance that anybody else to take the trophy?”

Ignacio Cruz
“Well, we don’t know yet until the end of the race but we’re going to keep trying our best.”

Duane Moody
“What does it take to do something like this sir, for those who do not know?”

Ignacio Cruz
“Dedication and work hard. It takes a ;lot of hard work.”

Duane Moody
“How long did it take you guys to prepare for this event?”

Ignacio Cruz
“Only two months, but you need about four months to be in top shape.”

Duane Moody
“Do you expect to win this year again?”

Christopher Guydis, Captain, C.P.B.L. Caribbean Pride
“We trained hard we, we’ll work at it.”

Duane Moody
“What will guarantee that you think more or less?”

Christopher Guydis
“We trained hard, we just got to be more careful and do it with more… wait for the right moment.”

Duane Moody
“What do you feel is the necessary tools that you need to win this challenge?”

Christopher Guydis
“Just paddle hard.”

The four day challenge ends at the Belcan Bridge in Belize City on Monday and Harrison says that the prized mustered for the event are up to fifty-thousand dollars including the grand prize of the Kinich Ahau trophy.

Orlando Harrison
“I think that is the climax of winning the race. It’s not about money, it’s about endurance, the ability to take on the four days of paddling so at the end of a hundred and seventy-nine miles, you should be proud of yourself that you’ve managed to finish the race and for those who won, I think it’s a great achievement in their entire life that they would have in this race.”

Duane Moody, Reporting for News Five.


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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