La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is synonymous to the month of March as the Heroes and Benefactors holiday and inevitable Belizean summer. Warm sunny days don’t deter locals as we all flock to the river bank to watch what has been called the longest, most challenging canoe race in the world.
As with most things, La Ruta Maya started as a passion project by natives of San Ignacio who knew the history of the local waterways. In ancient times, the Maya of Xunantunich used this river to travel to the sea, then north for trade purposes. Since 1998, race teams have been picking up their paddles every year to make the gruelling 4 day race from San Ignacio to Belize City.
The Race has Four legs:
Day 1 – San Ignacio to Banana Bank
Day 2 – Banana Bank to Double Head Cabbage
Day 3 – Double Head Cabbage to Burrell Boom
Day 4 – Burrell Boom to Belize City
There are many viewing points between the stations, and many locals make a secondary sport of chasing the race through the various sight seeing spots.
If you’re down for an even more immersive experience, most of the stations turn into somewhat of an after party scene for the support crews and viewers. The truest La Ruta Maya experience starts the night before in San Ignacio and ends 4 days later in Belize city where there are ‘pre’, ‘watch’ and ‘after’ parties throughout.
Slim and trim boys
San Ignacio’s very own, the Guava Limb craft is paddled by three young men Daniel Cruz, Javier and Andres Cobb all hailing from the riverbank village of Esperanza in the Cayo District.
Like the pioneering, fearless Maya before them, the Slim and Trim boys will brave rapids, reeds, sun, sweat and other racers to make it to the end in one piece. It’s true, the teams have support staff who wait for them at various points through the race, but on the river all they have is each other, their canoe, and their daring.
Last time around they placed Second over all and first in the Family Adventure Category, and this year they embark again in search of first place to take home the Kinich Ahau Trophy!
Chaa Creek Canoes
Carefully selected materials are at the foundation, and careful craftsmanship is the vehicle that transforms raw to refined. This same thoughtful expertise goes into the production and maintenance of the canoes raced in by the ruta Maya team, after all, the slim and trim boys deserve nothing but the finest craft for their journey.
The La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge kicks off March 3rd at the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio.
Will you be there to cheer for the Slim and Trim boys?