Ready, Set, Race: La Ruta Maya 2022 Returns to Belize’s RiverBanks!

by Carolee Chanona

Forty-six teams, 175 miles, four days, one winner: Belikin’s La Ruta Maya River Challenge returns to the rivers of Belize on March 4, 2022! Arguably one of the world’s largest river traditions, the banksides of Belize—from San Ignacio to Belize City—buzz with excitement during the longest canoe race of its kind in Central America. With Monday, March 7 observed in lieu of National Heroes & Benefactors Day on March 9, paddlers took off with the starting gun under the Hawkesworth Bridge in San Ignacio Town at 7:00 am this morning, ending Day 1’s Heat at Banana Bank, Belmopan. With the first station prize awarded to the first canoe that sprints to the Low Lying Bridge just meters away, Quality Poultry takes home more than just bragging rights! Who will be the first to cross the finish line at Banana Bank for Stage 1? Who will take first place in the 25th La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge? Stay tuned to find out!

La Ruta Maya’s Route & Where To Follow The Race

Dating back to 1998, La Ruta Maya returns after its one-year COVID hiatus! Cheer on along the way at its various checkpoints. For Stage 1, cheer on from the Iguana Creek Bridge, Branch Mouth, Baking Pot Ferry, Young Pot Ferry, as station prize checkpoints. There’s also a station prize at the Guanacaste National Park just outside of Belmopan, where you can doubly support conservation with the Belize Audubon Society by visiting this protected area. Plus, cheer on their team the Audubon Green Guardians—a father and his two sons competing in the Family Category, hoping to bring much-needed awareness for the conservation of our waterways.

We’ll also be cheering on Tipsy Tuna—the all-female team sponsored by Tipsy Tuna Seaside & Sports Bar in Placencia, Belize! Paddlers have the choice of registering in the following categories: Male, Female, Mixed, Masters, Intermural, Pleasure, C2 (2 paddlers), and Family Adventure.


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Stage 2 leaves Banana Bank at 6:30 am as the longest leg of the 4-day race, a 60-mile stretch, before arriving at Double Head Cabbage outside Belize City. Оn Ѕundау, Маrсh 6, for Stage 3, the thе Rutа Мауа Веlіzе Rіvеr Сhаllеngе gоеѕ frоm Dоublе Неаd Саbbаgе tо Неndеrѕоn Ваnk іn Вurrеll Вооm. Finally, thе lаѕt ѕtаgе wіll bе оn Моndау, Маrсh 7, frоm Вurrеll Вооm tо Веlіzе Сіtу fіnіѕhіng bу thе Веlіzе Сіtу Сеntrе.

Being out on the water tests you, but also grounds you. The comradery that forms as a result of experiencing a challenge with others is the real motivation to participate in the race every year.” 

– Jerry Rhaburn, former La Ruta Maya winner

Meaning “The Maya Route” in Spanish, the race follows the very same ancient trading route the Maya, and later Baymen used to transport goods for trade. But, it’s also an opportunity for much more: an ode to history and the perseverance of the human spirit. Along the way, paddlers and support crews traditionally camp at each finishing point, too. 

Previously, the La Ruta Maya committee shared, “We continue to strive toward our purpose; fostering environmental awareness, culture, and history of the Belize Old River and tourism development.”

15 Minutes of (International) Fame with Paddling Life Magazine

This year, adventure journalist Aaron Bible and producer Steven Lauder of Paddling Life—the leading digital platform for paddlesports information, stories, and industry news in the U.S.—are here in Belize for the entirety of Belikin’s 2022 La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge! Follow along with them at Paddling Life Magazine.

All images courtesy Belize Tourism Board.

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