The weekend of March 8th, 2019, Belizeans in the hundreds will gather at the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio, Cayo district. They’ll peer down as the canoes speed off down the Belize Old River with paddlers hard at work. The paddlers’ one goal in mind? To make that finish line four days from now.
The yearly La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is hosted by Belikin, and as their rules and regulations state, the race calls for those “who dare to take up the quest for victory and pursue the adventure of a lifetime on the Belize River.” Teams who enter are known to practice for many grueling months, all in the hopes of crossing the watery finish line at the end of 175 miles of dangerous rapids and scorching heat. The race takes place over the long weekend that celebrates Belize’s holiday of National Heroes and Benefactors Day (previously known as Baron Bliss Day.)
The route has been the same for 21 years:
Day 1: Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio to Banana Bank Lodge (49 miles)
Day 2: Banana Bank Lodge to Double Head Cabbage (60 miles)
Day 3: Double Head Cabbage to Burrell Boom (36 miles)
Day 4: Burrell Boom to Belize City (26 miles)
Teams are provided with lunch for four days and camping sites as they rest from the muscle-aching paddling they endured during the day. Fans and supporters follow the race from location to location, cheering and lending support where needed.
The race is divided into different categories such as Pleasure, Family or Intramural, among others. The fastest ever recorded time for a team, according to the Ruta Maya website, was 13:58:51 in 2015. This was by team “Slim + Trim like Guava Limb” under Family Adventure category.
La Ruta Maya River Challenge is something all of Belize takes pride on – whether you watch from the sidelines or on the actual river side, the anticipated race is a Belize festival you simply can’t miss.
For more information on Belize’s special events and festivals, feel free to email [email protected].