La Ruta Maya 2013 kicks off from Historic Hawksworth Bridge

vlcsnap-2013-03-08-19h50m30s156The 15th consecutive running of La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge got under way  this morning at the Hawksworth Bridge in San Ignacio: 64 teams, 8 divisions, 170 miles to paddle in less than 24 hours. Plus news was there for the start and spoke firstly with President of the Belize La Ruta Maya River Challenge; Orlando Harrison.

Orlando Harrison – President Belize La Ruta Maya:
vlcsnap-2013-03-08-20h16m23s53We have 64 teams.  Last year we had about 72.  The drop is not that significant.  Nonetheless I think from a marketing standpoint, we need to strategize again for next year, how we can bring in more of the international competitors to this race.  So we are happy about the numbers that registered, the total 64 teams, and we’re hoping to make it better next year.

Only minutes later it got under way and with its usual flurry of excitement, persons in the crowd cheered for their individual teams as they embarked on the first leg of their journey.

Raynard Garbutt – Plus TV:
They’re off, all 64 canoes are on their way to Banana Bank.  7 a.m. sharp, that’s the start time.  As we can see Belize Bank, Ziprider, Westrack Limited, HICH, all in the male category, that’s the professional category. they are gunning for the wooden bridge.  That’s where the first station prize [will be given].  We have a capsize right in front of us here, and that looks like somebody out of the BDF camp.  They paddle in the Pleasure Category, 52, that’s the San Pedro Express Baby Stars.  They have capsized right in front of us here.  Bubble and Grind, that’s the canoe with the father and two sons, one 13 and one 14, paddling in that canoe. Also we have Tropic Air, The Viking Mystery Tour, as they are trying to get themselves organised here.  That’s the excitement that comes with the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, capsizing, getting back into the canoe.

The first leg concluded at banana bank, with Belize Bank establishing a narrow lead in the pivotal male division followed by Corozal Cubs and Ziprider. Plus TV’s Raynard Garbutt gives us that report.

Raynard Garbutt – Plus TV:
vlcsnap-2013-03-08-20h18m08s54And here comes the canoe – Belize Bank. Belize Bank has done it. Belize Bank has caught the Zip Rider canoe and they are now in the lead at the finish here in Banana Bank. Armin Lopez is at the front of the canoe just guiding his paddlers. Belize Bank, the team that I had gave up on at Iguana Creek, followed by the Corozal Cubs, and Zip Rider, with Jerry Rayburn as the captain of this one.  

 

We spoke with team captain for  Belize Bank Bulldogs; Armin Lopez, who says that this morning’s run was a bit challenging.

Raynard Garbutt
Armin, how are you feeling after the first day has concluded?

Armin Lopez
Tired, because we worked hard. First of all, I want to give thanks to God. We finished this stage. Thanks to all the fans and all our sponsors – Belize Bank is one of our sponsors. Thanks to everyone.

Raynard Garbutt
After passing Iguana Creek Bridge, you guys were about twenty to twenty five seconds behind Zip Rider who was leading at that junction. What happened between Iguana Creek Bridge and Banana Bank for you guys to overcome that lead and also finish first here? Which in my view is an excellent job what you guys have done.

Armin Lopez – Captain Belize Bank Bulldogs:
vlcsnap-2013-03-08-20h19m41s206Thanks to God He gave us strength and the knowledge. We tried to pace ourselves and catch them slowly, because if you take the pace too hard, you can shut down and not catch them. You know Jerry Rayburn and his team are very fast. It’s like what I said, Jerry Rayburn is one of the best paddlers in Belize. But the youth really surprised me. I told them to keep it up, because they really did a good job.

Besides being the team captain, Lopez is also the oldest in his canoe. We asked him how he is faring with the younger heads within the race.

Raynard Garbutt
Armin, you are the oldest guy paddling in this canoe; how do you maintain your composure in the canoe with the younger guys.

Armin Lopez – Captain Belize Bank Bulldogs:

Well you know it’s a stronger mind; definitely I get tired. Some people ask me if I don’t get tired, but definitely I get tired. But it’s your mind; you have to have a tough mind. It’s like what I told the young guys, I will do my best.

Raynard Garbutt
What can we expect going into tomorrow’s leg as you guys have a second lead over the second place Cub Arms team of Corozal?

Armin Lopez – Captain Belize Bank Bulldogs:

Well you never know, the race isn’t done yet, anyone can win this race.

It was a heated race to the finish as Belize Bank edged out Corozal Cubs by a nose to cross the finish line.

Belize Bank Captain:
vlcsnap-2013-03-08-20h21m38s123Myself and my team are more than satisfied.

We have never come in second in a leg like this. So for us it is more than excellent.

 

 

Raynard Garbutt:
Now you guys were basically about one second or so, or a little less than a second behind the Belize Bank team. What can we expect from you guys tomorrow?

Belize Bank Captain:
Well actually tomorrow is another day; we are just trying to do our best as a team.

Raynard Garbutt
What does preparation look like for the Cub Arm team, how long have you guys been training for this event?

Belize Bank Captain:
Well actually we have about a month and a half to two months, so that’s not actually enough, but we are just trying our best, so that’s what we came up with with what we have practiced.  

Plus news was also able to speak with Manager of the Cubs who told us that he is pleased with his teams placing of 2nd for today.

Raynard Garbutt:
How do you feel about your team finishing second here on the first day?

Manager of the Corozal Cubs:
vlcsnap-2013-03-08-20h34m37s223Well this was planned already. We had in mind coming in second or third or first, because we were practicing with the same Belize Bank; every day we practiced the same rhythm and everything. We are well equipped and BTL is a good sponsor and is giving its all to us.

 

Raynard Garbutt:
We know that when they passed the Iguana Creek Bridge, your team was about at least twenty five seconds behind the Zip Rider team that was leading at that point. Did they tell you how they managed to get back and passed the Zip Rider and come second?

Manager of the Corozal Cubs:
This is just about stamina and resistance. Stamina is the word.  

The race has three more days to go before its completion; however there have been some changes in the race this year, specifically for tomorrows leg. Harrison tells us more.

Orlando Harrison:
vlcsnap-2013-03-08-20h36m47s14The changes that have been made is that we have changed from the Old River Tavern to now Henderson Bank – a larger space. There is more camping. There is better parking. So we thought that where we were landing was getting too congested and we wanted a little bit more open space. We searched and the Henderson Bank owners came along and offered that location.

 

 

Raynard Garbutt:
Now when it comes to foreign participation, tell us a little bit about that and how much foreigners we have participating this year in this event.

Orlando Harrison:
From the foreign participation standpoint, like I mentioned, those are the volunteer teams or the volunteer people that are here in Belize from the US Embassy and from the Japanese, Taiwanese and the British.  

PlusTV is covering the canoe race live, giving you paddle by pabdle commentary all the way to the finish on Monday.

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