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Mar 7, 2014

17th Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge Kicks Off in San Ignacio

Crowds gathered this morning at the banks of the Mopan River in San Ignacio for the start of the annual Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge. More than sixty teams started the competition, but it is anyone’s guess how many will make it to the finishing line on Monday at the Belcan Bridge.  And as they have in past years, the Belize Bank and NICH teams remain as the contenders to watch dominating the first leg of the race. News Five Isani Cayetano has a report from the start of the race all the way to Banana Bank.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

At seven o’clock this morning, paddlers in all categories of competition took off from the base of the Hawskworth Bridge in San Ignacio to start the seventeenth running of the Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge.  A total of sixty-eight teams are participating in this year’s tournament.


Roberto Harrison, Organizer, Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge

Roberto Harrison

“There’s eight categories in this race, there’s [the] male, female, mix, masters, dorey, intramural and family category.  Again, for us all of these categories have the same opportunity to win the big prize; however, we know that [in] the male category are the dominating teams: the Belize Bank [and] the NICH team.”


Incidentally, they would both place in that order at the culmination of the first leg of the four-day challenge.  The race is a physical test of endurance, an exhausting feat accomplished by a majority of teams taking part.


Isaura Williams

Isaura Williams, Manager, Whateva Boys

“My guys started to actually train from November, they went in full training.  The last few months were very hectic for them but they have the will and they have the heart and it is actually showing up right now.  They are coming [in] second presently.  Hopefully we see them right behind Belize Bank and hopefully they will make it.  They are actually competing for the intramural but they’re objective is actually to be on the top five with the professionals Whateva Boys!!”


That wish would somewhat become reality.  While they placed in the top five, they would lose the second place lead to NICH somewhere between Iguana Creek and the Agripino Cawich Bridge.


Sergio Lopez, Team Captain, Whateva Boys

Sergio Lopez

“The river was really shallow and that was a tremendous [undertaking].  You gotta have a lot of strength to have enough speed to go forward but as I can say I thank the Lord for everything.  I am proud of third place, first time in my life I’m good.”


Whereas the popular names in canoe racing vied for victory at Banana Bank, other teams are entering the race for a first time.  One such group is the San Ignacio chapter of the Rotaract Club.


Loui Godoy

Loui Godoy, Supporter, San Ignacio Rotaract Club

Usually Rotaract doesn’t really participate for the Ruta Maya but this year we decided we wanted to make a team so we did that.  We got up about maybe two months ago and we decided we’re going to work out and everything.  There are three crew members: Manny, Chabo and Francis.  Francis is the only experienced person on our team right, the other two guys just wanted to for the thing.  Currently, I think we’re ranking thirty-five out of the eighty-five teams so I think we’re doing really well, alright.”


NICH, one of the many returning favorites, placed second today.  Its paddlers, however, are pressed to close a three-minute gap at the finish line come Saturday.


Oscar Cordon, Paddler, NICH

Oscar Cordon

“I was telling my sponsor that I don’t know what happened today.  I don’t know, the canoe just get hard and we couldn’t come up to Belize Bank and that’s the way these guys got away from us.”


Isani Cayetano

“Now I understand that you guys had some difficulties with your boat.”


Oscar Cordon

Yeah, that was what we mi think but I noh sih nothing wrong eena di boat.  Dat da weh I di tell dehn, I cyant explain what happened.  We haftu sih later on [when we] talk this guy and see what we can do tomorrow.”


…and that is the challenge ahead.  For Belize Bank, on the other hand, there is no looking back.  The sturdy arms of veteran athlete Armin Lopez and the adroit movement of his teammates make them the most formidable opponents on water.


Armin Lopez

Armin Lopez, Team Captain, Belize Bank

“Without God I couldn’t manage fi deh between dehn young man ‘round ya, you know.  And definitely wid dehn young man weh a gah da back deh, dehn bally really di push me, you know.  I tyad.  Dehn bally noh look tyad yet.  Dehn young man deh got lotta power, without dehn definitely ah cyant do it.  To me dehn bally one ah di two best paddlers ya da Belize, you know.”


…all in a bid to win the most prizes.


Roberto Harrison

“We have prizes for all categories.  There are station prizes even beginning at the Board Bridge here where there’s a three hundred dollar toss up for anybody to grab there.  We know that the male team will hopefully win that prize there.  So there’s quite a bit of prizes to win on this race.  We have about twenty-one thousand allotted in cash to prizes for the four days.”


The race resumes on Saturday morning at Banana Bank, the second leg culminating at Double Head Cabbage. Isani Cayetano 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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1 Response for “17th Belikin La Ruta Maya River Challenge Kicks Off in San Ignacio”

  1. Lord LOL says:

    Good luck and kick some @$$

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