Quality Poultry wins 7th annual La Ruta Maya River Race

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 14, No. 9            March 11, 2004

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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!

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