This March, Watch as Over 100 Athletes Race Across Belize by Canoe

by Khaila Gentle

The beginning of March in Belize heralds the arrival of good things. As cooling tradewinds begin to blow, signaling the beginning of “spring”, an air of excitement permeates the country. Kites decorate the sky, sailboats dot the surface of the Caribbean sea, and the first long weekend since January acts as a prelude to the coming Easter buzz.  In Belize, March 9th is celebrated as National Heroes and Benefactors Day, but the long weekend break that comes along with it usually sees the country celebrating far more than its historical icons. On March 8th, 2024 the annual La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge returns. Spanning 180 plus miles, it’s a race like no other, and it’s certainly a must-watch in the month of March.

Look to the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge for an Andrenaline Fueled Long Weekend

Photo courtesy of the Belize Tourism Board

Undoubtedly an adrenaline-pumping spectacle, the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge takes place this year from March 8th to 11th, 2024. For those not in the know, the race—a grueling one at that—sees over a hundred paddlers navigating the historic Belize River.

The four-day race, which begins in San Ignacio and concludes in Belize City, is a true test of endurance. Each year, thousands of spectators line the banks of the river, cheering on racers as they make their way towards the finish line.

A Brief History of La Ruta Maya

Jade green waters of the Macal River inside San Ignacio Town. Photo by the BTB

The origin of the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge traces back to 1998 when it was first organized by Richard Harrison of Big-H Enterprises. Originally conceived as a one-time event to commemorate National Heroes and Benefactors Day (then called Baron Bliss Day), the race has since taken on a life of its own. Its success prompted organizers to turn it into an annual tradition. Today, it is one of the most anticipated events on Belize’s sporting calendar (and it’s recreational calendar, too.)

The race itself follows the same ancient trade routes that the Mayas used to traverse between the highlands of the country and the Caribbean Sea. The challenge not only showcases competitors’ physical prowess but also celebrates the historical significance of the route, offering a unique blend of sport and cultural exploration.

Celebrating Belize’s History & Heritage With Travellers Ruta Maya Rum

As March approaches, the excitement surrounding the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge builds. Of course, the allure of this much-anticipated event goes far beyond just the race. At the villages and stops along the race’s route, spectators get to enjoy full-blown festivities, complete with music, snacks, drinks, and games.

This time around, La Ruta Maya fans will have one more way to enjoy the weekend. Recently launched, Travellers’ Liquors Ruta Maya Rum pays homage to Belize’s heritage and history. Distilled and bottled at the Travellers Distillery in Belize City, the Ruta Maya collection offers a full range of flavors, from subtly sweet rum blanco to deep and intense coffee rum.

So, mark your calendars and come enjoy a fusion of sport, history, fun and adventure as the banks of the Old Belize River come alive this March.

Featured Photo courtesy of Belize Tourism Board. 

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