The 8th Lagoon Reef Eco-Challenge set; kayakers are ready!

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Final preparations are ongoing for the 8th annual Lagoon Reef Eco-Challenge Kayak Race that is scheduled for this weekend, May 12th and 13th. The challenge consists of two days of kayaking, a total of 42 miles, within the inner lagoons and along the shores of Ambergris Caye. The main purpose is to celebrate and highlight the importance of the ecosystem on and around the island.

The challenge, which began back in 2005, has become one of the main events that islanders look forward to each year. This year, organizers expect in excess of 40 teams to enter the challenge with over $15,000 in prizes. The main organizer of the Lagoon Reef Eco-Challenge, Elito Arceo, explained that the route has been marked and all the “nuts and bolts” are in place for the race which will kick off in two days’ time (Saturday May 12th) from the Barcadero area.

The race starts at 6AM just across from the Saca Chispa Football field where a large multitude comes out to witness the kayakers’ sprint to the mouth of the channel. "On the first day, the kayakers will paddle a distance of about 29 miles. The participants travel from the Barcadero and head north inside the Laguna de San Pedro, traveling through mangrove channels and creeks into Laguna de Frances, then out to the sea along the western side of the island. Next they pass along the Belize-Mexico border and finally head into Laguna de Cantena, ending at Basil Jones in the Bacalar Chico Marine Reserve for the campout," said Arceo. On the second day, the kayakers move from the camp site shortly before 9AM and move southwards along the eastern coast of Ambergris Caye. The kayakers will paddle within the reef, ending in front of the Central Park; a distance of approximately 13 miles.

The routes are clearly marked to avoid kayakers from getting lost. One of the requirements is for kayakers to be at a certain location by a given time; a requirement that will be explained on Friday night during the briefing. The Eco Challenge is for amateur kayakers and Arceo explained that anyone who has placed in the top 20 positions in La Ruta Maya River Challenge will not be allowed to participate. The kayakers will compete for first, second and third places along with many other station prizes along the route.

The event will end with a beach party at Central Park, where the winning kayakers will be presented their prizes. Arceo ended by inviting the public to come out and cheer for their favorite kayakers as they leave on Saturday from the starting point and arrive at the finish line on Sunday. Sponsors and family wishing to accompany the kayakers in their own vessels are encouraged to keep to the left hand side of the kayakers on the first day and on the right hand side on the second day to avoiding wave actions from reaching the kayakers.

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