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It Is Happening This Week: La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge

The 19th annual La Ruta Belize River Challenge is set to begin at 7:00 AM on March 3, 2017, in San Ignacio Town. Featuring more than 170 miles of shifting currents, whitewater rapids, and grueling portages, the four-day race pits hundreds of three-person teams competing in eight different categories to be the first to cross the finish line in downtown Belize City.

The La Ruta Maya Belize Canoe Race began in 1998 with a one-off promotional event sponsored by a local bottled water company to raise consciousness about the Belize Old River. Today, the La Ruta Maya Belize Challenge is one of the premier canoe racing events in Central America with teams of professional and amateur canoeists attracting large crowds at every stop along the route that begins in San Ignacio in the country's far west and finishes in the heart of Belize City in the east.

The first day of the race, March 3, 2017, begins at 7:00 AM as teams set out from the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio to make their way to the first mandatory rest stop at the village of Banana Bank. Day two of this thrilling event sees teams battle headwinds and shifting currents to be the first to arrive at the charmingly named village of Double Head Cabbage. Day three tests the teams' endurance as they navigate rapids to be the first to arrive at the village of Burrell Boom. The fourth and final day of the race, March 7, 2017, sees teams make the final sprint to be the first to arrive in downtown Belize City.

Awards are given to the first teams to arrive in Belize City in eight different categories: all-male crews, all-female crews, mixed gender crews, families, dory (a traditional flat-bottomed boat), pleasure craft, master's (professional canoeists), and intramural teams. The average winning time in previous years is just under 20 hours, testing the endurance and teamwork of professional and amateur canoeists from across Belize and the world as they battle the heat, wind, and shifting currents of the Old Belize River.

The cavalcade of professional teams and amateurs gives plenty of excitement for the cheering crowds that line the banks of the Old Belize River. Beginning with live music and a festive party atmosphere on the morning of March 3, 2017, in San Ignacio, the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge has three mandatory overnight rest stops at idyllic villages on the route to Belize City. Visitors can cheer on sleek racing hulls and silly pleasure craft alike all along the route of the race, giving this four-day sporting event a holiday atmosphere suitable for the whole family.

The La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is also the perfect launchpad to one of Belize's most cherished national holidays. Now called National Benefactor's Day, March 9 has long been celebrated as Baron Bliss Day, named for the eccentric English millionaire who donated most of his fortune to the country in 1926. Today, the holiday is celebrated with picnics, live concerts, and a regatta in the Belize City harbor.  

To get the most out of your time in Belize, contact Adventures in Belize. With more than 20 years of experience in crafting customized vacation experiences in the country, Adventures in Belize will work with you to put together the right vacation package. If you're interested in learning about the La Ruta Maya canoe race, please email us at info@adventuresinbelize.com.