So as I mentioned in previous posts, the Mopaneers are planning to tackle this year's La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge. It officially begins one week from tomorrow!!! Eeeek!!
In preparation for this event, Matt, Dan, and I have been working out on our own--with whatever makeshift weights and activities we can get our hands on. Personally, I filled up pvc pipe and oats cans with cement and made faux oars and weights. Nice, nice.
Anyway, in recent weeks we've tried to get all three of us in town to train on the rivers. At first it was pretty rocky---we are not really canoeing competitors or experts by any means! The guys are pretty comfortable and know what to do, but I think I can count the number of times I've actually been IN a canoe on one hand prior to this! During our first practice, I asked "what do you mean by paddle forward?"-- which now is the source of a good make-fun-of-Mallory joke every now and then!
Still, we've been getting some time in on the river, and things are looking up! We finally got out rowing strokes in unison, can turn fairly well, and have a general stamina that I think will lead us to successfully complete the race. We will not win it by any means, (those people are insane!), but we want to finish.....preferably not in last! haha
The entire race starts in Cayo and finishes in Belize City, crossing the whole country of Belize. We will row 49 miles on Day 1, 60 (!) miles on Day 2, 34 miles on Day 3, and 25 miles on Day 4! 170 miles total~! Our arms burn with our workouts now so I can only imagine how miserably sore we will be after each of these intense race days! But we can't complain too much. We practice rowing along the Toledo rivers in straight jungle. It's like the Amazon! Literally, it looks like out of a movie. One day we paddled right beside a crocodile! (Which caused massive paranoia for the rest of the day). Another time we got caught in random patches of torrential downpour, where we felt like the cloud was raining just over our heads and nowhere else....but no complaints because it was very refreshing! MY favorite practice was spent following a snow white egret, who would perch a few hundred yards from us until we almost reached it, and then fly off just to perch a few hundred yards again. It was like our unofficial river tour guide for the morning. Rowing in an environment like that really makes you take a minute to stop and think about life--how beautiful everything is! It also reminds me how lucky I am to be living in this untouched wilderness so close to home....
Nonetheless, I am confident in Team Bembes, (which means strong women in Kriol). We are representing WIN-Belize (Women's Issues Network of Belize), which focuses on a special interest in women’s issues and a commitment to the improvement of social and economic opportunities for women and their families in Belize. WIN-Belize has been fighting for women’s equality since 1993.
So not only are we participating in one of the top 5 hardest races in ALL the world, but we are doing so for a good cause! Our bodies will be tired, blistered, sunburned, and in general pain--- but it will be worth the experience!
So keep your thoughts with Team Bembes March 4-7, 2011. If only we could have a waterproof video camera to document the ridiculous antics that will be occurring in the boat.....