The 3rd annual Eco-Challenge Lagoon Race culminated in grand style at Mar de Tumbo this past weekend, crowning “We deh pan line” as the masters of the race, as pictured above.
As part of the Reef Festival activities, people of all ages came out to take part in the festivities, as well as watch in delight the kayakers finish the race. The race was a two day paddling adventure that took participants around the island through channels flanked by thick mangrove and other flora, as well as on open sea, for a total of 42 miles.
Saturday April 21st, a total of 27 teams took the extreme challenge and with the sound of the horn, they were off! In the first leg of the race which is the longest route, the kayakers paddled through the western part of the island. The pressure was definitely on for some but for the veterans from the La Ruta Maya Challenge it was just a “walk in the park.” As the rule implies, teams had until twelve o’clock to cross the first point at Rio de Santa Cruz or would risk disqualification. At the end of the first day, arriving first at the Robles Point camp site was the “Punta Runners” who over powered the “We deh pan line” by just a second with a time of 7 hours 2 minutes. At the site, all weary and tired, kayakers were treated to a scrumptious barbeque and refreshments, as well as some much needed rest for the task ahead of them the following day. The general camaraderie around camp kept everyone’s spirits up especially with the assistance from the Belize Defense Force who helped and supported the teams.
On Sunday, the last 13 miles of the race might have sounded like nothing compared to the previous day’s mile log, but once out on the water; the wear and tear came on full blast. Once again, the top three teams from the day before were in top form, and ahead of the race. Endurance was the key to the game and it was impressive to see all the teams giving it all that they had; they only stopped paddling for a couple of seconds to take a drink of water, Gatorade and the occasional Red Bull. At the Mar de Tumbo where the Reef Festival was taking place, the fans stood waiting in anticipation for the big finish. Coming in at the top of the race was none other than “We deh pan line” with a total combined time of 10 hours 10 minutes and 29 seconds to take the Eco-Challenge crown. A close second was “Punta Runners” who finished with a total time of 10 hours 12 minutes and 23 seconds. And rounding off third place were last year’s winners “Jambel Reggae Boyz” with a total allotted time of 10 hours 27 minutes and 19 seconds. These top three teams received not only bragging rights but a significant cash award amounting to $3,000, $2,000, $1,000 respectively and round trip flights courtesy of Tropic Air. And for the ladies, this race brought out some daring and empowering women who took on the challenge and completed it as well. Placing first at the finish line was “Tides Gals” who completed the race with an impressive 11 hours 58 minutes and 54 seconds. Second place was “Sea Gyal” and rounding off the third was “Tropic Tritons” with its official logged time unconfirmed. The ladies received cash prizes as well as other consolation prizes. Out of 27 teams that started only 21 teams completed the two day grueling race.
Huge thanks go out to the amazingly supportive community and all its sponsors which are too much to mention. Thanks to its “Patron” sponsors which include: Alliance Bank, Jambel’s, Pedro’s Inn, SunBreeze, Polo’s, Wine de Vine, Marina’s Store and Super Buy. Thanks to all those that assisted in support crews: Island ferry and the Belize Defense Force for their incredible good work and of course Susan Eiley for preparing the food. Also, special thanks go out to the organizers and coordinator, Elito Arceo for his hard work and dream to have the race an annual event and Kirah Foreman for her incredible dedication and patience.
The eco-challenge kayak race proved a tremendous success well in its third year, KUDOS!! Until next year!