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Mar 4, 2011

Day 1 of country’s longest canoe race, La Ruta Maya

Early this morning, the annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge got off from the base of the Hawksworth Bridge in the twin towns of Santa Elena and San Ignacio. Spectators were out in numbers when the horn sounded for the canoe race that will end at the Belcan Bridge in Belize City on Monday after a grueling race of close one hundred and eighty miles. While the number of paddlers decreased this year, the enthusiasm and energy remained high. A News Five team was in the thick of things this morning and Isani Cayetano has a report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The race to the finish line near Banana Bank at midday was a nail-biter as champion paddlers Jerry Rhaburn along with brothers Efrain and Rudy Cruz maintained a seven second advantage on their closest opponents.  Spectators lined the narrow, stony island as they cheered for the two competing teams but in the end the current titleholders would emerge victorious to claim the first leg of the fourteenth annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge.

Jerry Rhaburn, Team Captain, Zip Riders

Jerry Rhaburn

“It was a little bit technical but as you guys can see we did have a big setback on the first couple of hours in the race but that’s what professionals do, you know, we just can’t stay back and give up so [easily].  But I think we did a good job today.”

If the result of stage one in the hundred and seventy-odd mile journey is any indication of the remainder of the 2011 competition then fans of both Zip Riders and Belize Bank should expect an intense showdown between both teams.  Of the many teams that took off from the base of the Hawksworth Bridge earlier these two are clearly in a class of their own.

Roberto Harrison

Roberto Harrison, Organizer, La Ruta Maya

“There were eighty-one teams registering or entering this morning and we expect that all eighty-one teams would have completed today’s race by three [or] four o’clock the latest.”

Team captain Erwin Cruz led his guys to a breakaway start keeping ahead for several miles before being overtaken by their rivals at Iguana Creek.

Erwin Cruz, Team Captain, Belize Bank

“Up there the water was high but more down the river was a little bit low so [paddling] the canoe got harder so they just caught up with us.”

Isani Cayetano

“Do you think that you’ll be able to maintain this momentum going into tomorrow?”

Jerry Rhaburn

“Most definitely.  Tomorrow is going to be deep water [and] nobody; I don’t think we’re going to have two canoes coming to the line tomorrow.  Probably we’re going to have like three or four canoes coming to the line but we’re going to see what we can do tomorrow.”

Armin Lopez

Coming in a distant third was the trio representing the National Institute of Culture and History, a team that is also regarded for its ferocity on the water.

Armin Lopez, Team Captain, NICH

“We mih di try heng on, you know, because we know dehn bally fast but we could mek it so dehn bally drop we by five minutes.”

Isani Cayetano

“What are you guys planning on in order to close that gap tomorrow or on Sunday?”

Armin Lopez

“Well only God knows, you know, we know ih hard fi close da gap but dih race noh done yet, you know, anything could happen.  I noh dih say we wahn something bad happen to dehn bwai but you neva know eena di race what wahn happen.”

From an aerial perspective the canoe race is almost like watching a large number of floating pods in a rushing stream.  Their paddlers are the proverbial peas aligned harmoniously in upper body motion to become instruments of stealth.

Linda Searle

Linda Searle, Team Support Staff

“There’s a lot of preparation involved for this race if you really take it seriously.  I mean you have to get your equipment ready.  We had to get our boat fixed twice because we’re in some other tournaments where the bottom got damaged so we had to fix that.  You have to get our paddles in order.  You have to get all of your drinks and your snacks and your power gels.  You have to make sure that you have enough of that and everybody, each paddler has a different requirement so we have to keep track of that as well so there’s really a lot of work involved in getting ready for this race.”

Tomorrow’s leg will commence at Banana Bank and make its way to Double Head Cabbage.  The previous distance of sixty river miles to Bermudian Landing was adjusted to allow for teams to complete the course within a shorter time period. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

We will be following the paddlers as they get to the finishing line and we’ll have a one hour show of the entire race next week.

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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11 Responses for “Day 1 of country’s longest canoe race, La Ruta Maya”

  1. Earl Grey says:


  2. Josie says:

    Good luck guys and have fun doing the race

  3. Derek says:

    Stop being stupid Earl. Water is Water. The same water that runs from the river ends up in the sea. The sea being the major part of what you refer to as the harbor. As far as I know any boat race is know as a regatta. I am pretty sure most Belizeans will agree. Baron Bliss Day or 9th of March is celebrated in our country as a Holiday of which boat racing is the major event. What is so corrupted by this? Do you mean to say that only Belizeans living in coastal areas should benefit by these celebartion?

  4. Gary says:

    Give your head a SHAKE!!!…..Earl Grey. There is NO corruption issue here!!!. Derek is spot on.

  5. Earl Grey says:

    Baron Bliss died on his boat in THE HARBOR…………..he left money to the country to celebrate ON THE HARBOR. Any Belizean died and left money for their country??????


    LA RUTA …….is like making CHRISTMAS…….. into a SHOPPING SEASON………

  6. Xaan says:

    earl u got some serious issues my fren.

  7. BZNinCALI says:

    Thanks Earl. it was enjoyable watching the men on their sailboats competing.

  8. Earl Grey says:

    Xann……… AT LEAST YOU CAN LEARN YOUR HISTORY!!!…..U 2 Derek………….

  9. Pink jaguar says:

    The spiriit of the flows in all the waters of Belize salt, brackish and fresh sweet river waters, lakes, ponds and even puddles when it rains – and yes the baron left for us – and we know of born belizeans who have taken from – no need for a list unless you have amnesia

  10. The People Had Enough says:

    Pink Jaguar; what the hell are you talking about? Drugs are bad ya know.

  11. Pink jaguar says:

    I am proposing – a northern race ‘ the Albion bliss race ” ; the “rio hondo race” and the “sarstoon race”- let us explore their feasibility – market them internationally also and the month of march will truly be a month of blissful racing and thanks to the baron for his idea

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