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NICH Wins 2019 Belikin Ruta Maya River Challenge

NICH Wins 2019 Belikin Ruta Maya River Challenge
March 16
09:33 2019

The NICH team of Efrain Cruz, Hener Cruz and Felix Cruz won the 22nd annual Belikin Ruta Maya River Challenge from San Ignacio to Belize City on Friday to Monday, March 8-11.

The NICH men dominated the race from the outset, winning the first stage in 5:02:01, opening up a three minute gap over their nearest rivals, the Crunch Time team. The NICH team also won the third stage from Double Head Cabbage to Burrell Boom in 4:50:43 on Sunday to gain a six minute lead in their cumulative time over Crunch Time. NICH also won the fourth leg on Monday in 2:36:56, almost two minutes ahead of Crunch Time.

The 10-time Ruta Maya champs of Jerry Cante, Amado Cruz and Daniel Cruz paddled their “Crunch Time” canoe to a first place finish in the second stage to win the $300 prize at Double Head Cabbage, and they had the second best time overall of 18:29:38 to win the second prize for the overall finish, as well as second prize in the Male category.

The Referendum team: Kenrick and Balon Daniels and Tyreek Thompson gave Crunch Time a run for their money on the fourth day, winning third place overall in 18:34:25 to win the third prize in the Male category.

Some 61 canoes began the 170 mile race, competing in eight categories.

This year’s race also had many international teams from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Taiwan and Japan.

Perhaps the most colourful were the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) teams in the Mixed category. Team Sushi: Masaki Kimura, Aya Kubata and Ryoko Kimura finished 54th on day 4 in 4:18:01 for a total time of 29:50:57, while Team Sake: Ryohei Tanaka, Chihura Yuki and Tamani Ogawa finished 58th in 4:28:47, for a total time of 32:48:47.

The trio of Hob brothers: Bill, Joe and Chuti who won the first Ruta Maya in 1999 took home a $100 first prize, but the race has grown considerably since then. The NICH team was awarded the coveted “Kinich Ahau” trophy in the awards ceremony inside the Belize City Center after the race; along with the cash prizes for finishing first, they had also cleaned up most of the station prizes in the Male category along the race route. The Referendum Paddlers had won the first $100 station prize at the low-lying wooden bridge between the twin towns, but after that the NICH men swept the $100 prize at Branch Mouth the $100 prize at the New Bridge, the $50 prize at the Baking Pot Ferry, a $50 prize at Iguana Creek bridge and a $100 prize at the Dream Valley Resort. They also won the $50 prize at the Young Bank ferry, a $100 prize at Guanacaste Park and $100 prize at Banana Bank. Fortunately there were also $50 station prizes offered for the first canoe in each of the eight categories at each station, for a total of $4,350 in prizes to be won on the first day, and other teams also cashed in, in their respective categories. On the second day, NICH also won a $100 prize at the Banana Bank Lodge, $50 at More Tomorrow Village.

Team Crunch Time took over the lead to win the $50 station prize and a bonus $150 prize from Ka’ana Resort at the Original Big Falls, $50 at Willows Bank, and $300 in prizes at Double Head Cabbage as they finished first on Day 2. There were also a $100 first prize, a $75 second prize and a $50 third prize for the top 3 in each category at the end of each day’s race; for a total of $4,000 in prizes to be won on Day 2.

Team NICH resumed the lead to win a series of $50 prizes at the bridge in Bermudian Landing, at Isabella Bank, Flowers Bank, the BWS water treatment plant, and a $100 prize in Burrell Boom. They also won the bonus prizes of $3,000 for the first team to finish third leg, and the $500 prize for the first Male team. There was also a $300 bonus prize for the first team in each category, for a total of $9,450 in prizes to be won on day 3, and another $3,750 up for grabs on day 4!

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