With the spirit of competition and the promise of high adventure,
the challenge is hereby cast to any and all hardy souls throughout
Belize and the world, who dare to take up the quest for victory and
pursue the adventure of a lifetime on the Belize Old River."
The Belize River was packed last Friday as 89 teams of "hardy
souls" put to the water, ready and willing to take on the challenge of
the 7th annual running of La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. When the
splashing and dashing was over, it was the Quality Poultry team who
emerged victorious. Paddling the winning canoe were Alex Lisbey, Armin
Lopez and Daniel Cruz.
The following information contains the "unofficial" results as of
deadline on Tuesday. Official results and times were released on
Wednesday, March 10th, 2004. Winning the first four overall race
positions were: 1st - Quality Poultry, 2nd - Pine Lumber, 3rd - Black
Rock Lodge, and 4th - Belize Bank.
Held every year in conjunction with the Baron Bliss Day
celebration, the race began on March 5th beneath the historic
Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio. There, the paddlers put to the water
for a three and a half day test of their courage and endurance covering
over 170 miles of the beautiful and still wild Belize Old River. Along
the course, the racers competed for station or place prizes and camped
overnight at Banana Bank, Bermudian Landing and Burrell Boom. On March
8th, of the 89 teams who started, only 80 remained to sprint toward the
finish line in Belize City and the roar of the cheering crowds who
anxiously awaited their arrival at the Belcan Bridge.
This year the competition was divided into seven divisions, with
the newest being the Family Adventure Race, which was open to family
teams who completed only on the 1st and 2nd day of the race. Other
winning teams in their respective categories were: Male - Quality
Poultry; Female - Cayo Gial, Mixed - Black Rock Lodge, Masters - Koop
Sheet Metal, Dory - Snickers, Intramural - University of Belize Black
Jaguars and Pleasure - Print Belize/Public Service. The winners of the
Family Division were not made available as of press time.
Local racers from San Pedro included the Grand Colony Villas team,
who competed in the Masters Division of the race. The team was
comprised of long-time visitors to San Pedro, Donn Streiler and Dick
McBride. The SP "seniors" (64 and 68 years of age respectively) were
joined by 40-year-old Cancun architect Eduardo Jasso, who is currently
designing the pool at Grand Colony Villas and designed the new
Municipal Pier, as well as the proposed changes at Central Park. Their
canoe was sponsored by Seferino Paz Sr. of Grand Colony with support
from Roberto Lopez of Hummingbird Rattan.
As subscribers of The San Pedro Sun, Streiler and his wife Lucy
were familiar with the annual Ruta Maya River race. They met Lopez
while furnishing their condo and he became their support team. Mr.
Streiler told The Sun, "When Jasso dropped out of the race after day
one (due to a sudden illness), Bobby Lopez came through for us and
alternately substituted one of his Belmopan Boy Scouts throughout the
remainder of the race so we could finish!"
Also competing from the Cayes were Auxillou Suites of Caye Caulker
who placed second in the Mixed Division, as well as San Pedro AIDS
Commission Peace Corps Volunteer Miki Kim (The Condom Crusaders) and
Hol Chan Marine Reserve Peace Corps Volunteer Laurie Smith (The Raging
Shanazettes) from Ambergris Caye.
Through this medium, the coordinators of La Ruta Maya Belize River
Challenge would like to thank the British Army Training Support Unit of
Belize (BATSUB) for their support on the ground (scoring and
timekeeping) and in the air (for providing air transport for the Equus
film crew who documented this year's race).
The San Pedro Sun congratulates the winners, as well as all the
participants and sponsors of La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge on a
race well run!