Cayo District, San Ignacio.
The brainchild of Cayo District’s very own Richard Harrison of Big-H Enterprises, the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge made its debut on March 9, 1998 and has now become an annual event drawing crowds from all over the world. Initially, this event was seen as an opportunity to bring many individuals with similar interests to build an event that could allow for the promotion of 'natural products' identified with sports, endurance, nutrition, and well being. The underlying concept is one of businesses and organisations interested in the environment, history, culture and the tourism potential which the Belize Old River offers as one of the great traditional natural resources of Belize.
The four day event is a gruelling paddle down the 175 miles of the Belize Old River from the historic Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio, to the Belcan Bridge in downtown Belize City. During the competition, there are three downstream Evening stops as the race progresses: the Banana Bank Lodge on the first evening, Russel's Place in Bermudian Landing is the second, and at the Old River Tavern in Burrell Boom on the third evening. On the final day, the first canoes enter Belize City to cheering crowds at approx. 10:00 am, coinciding with the Baron Bliss Day Celebrations in honour of Belize's great benefactor Henry Victor Edward Bliss, who left a significant inheritance to the people of Belize.
Traditionally, Belizeans have always celebrated March 9th as a holiday involving water sporting events on the rivers and off the coast in honour of Baron Bliss, a lover of the sea. In Belize City and the Cayes, sailing contests are organised and Inland communities usually have river regattas. As for the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, canoes and kayaks are more relevant to our times, this event promises to be the material that will revive this holiday for all Belizean citizens, residents and visitors to enjoy.
Read this article and more at: La Ruta Maya Belize
Top picture courtesy of the Creation Care Study Program: Belize Journal - Spring 2007 Semester