Traditionally the Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge has been a male-dominated sport, where male paddlers would display bulging muscles, coupled with lean arms and thighs that seem to magically propel them over rough rapids, but as the years go by the demographics of the race seems to be shifting whereby females are becoming more physically aggressive and confident in the sport, such as those like Ana Lopez, who have managed to secure some legendary wins. This year the San Ignacio Resort Hotel is proud to announce that we are sponsoring Lopez and her two team members – Gustavo Pott and Enrique Cruz from the San Iggy Team to compete in the mixed category. With only 9 more days to go before the race officially kicks off, the excitement, which at this time is highly contagious for sponsors, spectators, and paddlers alike are hard to contain as last-minute preparations are being finalized and teams wrap up their strategies to snag some of those station prizes along the 180 miles journey. Lopez, 37, a resident of Esperanza Village and a full-time mother, who is also a sprinter, has been competing in the race since she was 18 years old. She told us that she is no stranger to the competition and has always managed to win first place in the female category, except for one occasion when she lost the title to her sisters. Lopez who comes from a family of professional paddlers, says that the secret to her success is rigorous training and refusing to limit herself to social norms, but rather to push herself to venture full force into uncharted waters without any fear whatsoever. That has allowed her the opportunity to always remain in the first top 20 participants in the race, beating out several male paddlers in the process. ”It feels good, it’s pure adrenaline when you are there because it is a male-dominated sport and when you as a woman is paddling and you leave the men behind it feels good. It makes you want to go more and do more, but it sure feels good to compete against the guys, ” said Lopez when we asked her to describe the feeling. Lopez and her two team members have been training for over three months, they have endured long hours of workout, braved strong rapids, massaged strained muscles, and nursed blistered hands all in preparation for their big day. Since she says that it will all boil down to how much training and workouts her team members have completed. ”This year, while we did not have enough training as we would have liked, we are still aiming to do good, that might not be the first place because anything can happen. But we just need to have a strong mind to get through the four days. We are all feeling very excited at this point because with all the years that we have been paddling we felt that the race has become so much a part of us. So this year when we heard that the race was returning for the first time since the pandemic we couldn’t believe that we were actually going to get the chance to do it once more, ” said Lopez. But while training, maintaining their focus, and remaining alert enough to beat out any competition along the way, as all seasoned paddlers are aware of, the first major achievement for the team was being able to secure sponsorship. Over the years there has been a considerable decrease in businesses that are willing to sponsor teams since the event is costly and even more so this year when businesses are still reeling from the economic implications caused by the pandemic. For that matter, Lopez told us that she was very grateful for our support of making their dream of participating in the 2022 Belikin La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge a reality. While she says that she plans to make us proud, we will be there to cheer her on at the start of the race, which will be held on March 4th, at the foot of the Hawekswort Bridge in San Ignacio Town. The race will officially commence at 6:00 a.m. and will see the participation of over 90 teams from across the country as well as international paddlers. If you have a team that is participating in the race, or would like to witness it for yourself, then the San Ignacio Resort Hotel, which is located within walking distance of the starting line is the perfect option for you to dine in comfort, paradise, and luxury. The walk downhill to the river will provide you with that perfect morning exercise, adrenaline, and scenery to get your day off to a perfect start. Book with us today and help us to cheer on Ana and her team members as they battle out the 4 days of competition across the country.