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The annual March La Ruta Maya River Challenge is the longest canoe race in Central America. The competition attracts more than ninety teams of international canoeists from the U.S., Canada, England, Mexico and Japan.

Large crowds of fans line the riverbanks. The canoe route runs west to east, along the Macal and Belize Rivers, which were once the only link between San Ignacio, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains, and the bustling port of Belize City.

The four-day arduous canoe race brings participants on a 180-mile journey down the Belize River from San Ignacio, located in western Belize along the Guatemalan border, through spectacular flora and fauna to Belize City. Racers camp overnight along the route.

La Ruta Maya River Challenge is also one of the country's largest collaborative conservation efforts. Sponsored by the Belize Canoe Association, La Ruta Maya donates all proceeds to local environmental groups that help sustain and keep the rivers clean.

Consisting of a maximum of three paddlers, each team competes in one of seven different divisions on the basis of age, gender and construction of canoes.