Ready, set, paddle! The 18th Annual La Ruta Maya River Challenge, undoubtedly the most grueling canoe race in Belize, is less than a month away. Scheduled to take place from Friday, March 4th to Monday, March 7th, this test of stamina, endurance and strength will take racers through a 180-mile route along the Macal River in the Cayo District to the Belize River in the Belize District. Excited yet?
In true Belizean style, the La Ruta Maya River Challenge is not only a weekend-long race, but also a weekend-long festive celebration of National Heroes and Benefactors Day, which falls on Wednesday, January 9th but is being observed on Monday. The race takes both participants and spectators through some of the most outstanding sceneries in the country. Of course cheering on those brave paddlers requires some incentives – how about beer, cocktails, classic Belizean eats and even live music? Yup, you are sure to find a party at the several stations of the race or pretty much at any point along the race route you choose.
But how did the La Ruta Maya River Challenge come to be? The race was founded by Richard Harrison of Big-H Enterprises to launch Vida brand purified water back on March 9, 1998. The race then evolved into an opportunity to bring many partners with similar interests together to build an event that could allow for promotional themes of ‘natural products’ identified with sports, endurance, nutrition, and well-being.
The race kicks off at the foot of the Hawkesworth Bridge in the Twin Towns of Santa Elena/San Ignacio,Cayo and makes its way to Banana Bank Lodge outside of Belmopan. On the second day, the paddlers continue from Banana Bank Lodge to Double Head Cabbage Village on the Belize River. On day three, racers make their way along the Belize River, ending in Burrell Boom Village. On the last day, paddlers push through the final stretch from Burrell Boom to the Belchina Bridge in Belize City.
The race has become such an iconic event for Belize that it now attracts both participants and visitors from across the Caribbean and Central America! So mark your calendars, as this is definitely a ‘can’t-miss event!’ With so many stops along the way over four days, you’ll know you can catch culture, exploration and sports all in one!