La Ruta Maya cancelled this year


The race for everyone (not just professional racers), The La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is being cancelled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Held once a year, La Ruta Maya is the only adventure sports weekend of its kind and caliber in Central America. This race dates back to March 9, 1998 when San Ignacio resident and businessman Richard Harrison conceptualized and executed the first-ever river challenge.
We asked an organizer of the yearly race, to the finish line, about the cancellation and he responded, “Pandemic, do you know of any public event with mass crowds these days?”
According to the website from the La Ruta Maya Organizers, The La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge is a grueling multi-day canoe race traveling a perilous river route across the country of Belize. The route runs west to east along the Macal and Belize Rivers, once the only link between beautiful San Ignacio, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and the bustling port of Belize City.
The cancellation of this yearly event, albeit well-intentioned, will undoubtedly have repercussions to the local tourism industry in the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, and other areas. As is customary, fans from across the world descend on the twin towns to witness the start of the adventurous race from under the Hawkesworth Bridge. They also congregate along the Belize River during the journey to Belize City. Much money is generated from this activity among hoteliers, taxi drivers, restaurants, stores, and other outlets.
Then there are the cross-cultural exchanges as people from many places come to have a festive time in Western Belize–part of the intangible benefits of the La Ruta Maya River Challenge. Organizers are yet to comment on whether the race will have a restart, even after the pandemic has been tamed.