End of April the small town of Bacalar, in southern Quintana Roo, Mexico is filled up with cars and trailers loaded with Kayaks, Paddle Boards and Surf Skis.
Laguna Bacalar with its crystal clear turquoise water once again was showplace for the Paddle Marathon Laguna Bacalar one of the toughest paddle races in Mexico. Even though 30 km does not seem long but the heat and the sustained 18 knot SE winds, with gusts up to 25 knots makes it a real endurance race. The lake runs pretty much north-south meaning especially for the SUP paddlers paddling just on one side for many kilometers.
The 3 day event organized by Active Nature Bacalar and Protudec in conjunction with the town of Bacalar, Gand Costa Maya and Viajemos todo por Mexico draw more than 160 national and international participants, to the south of Quintana Roo. The 2017 Marathon also had the backup of the Asociación de Surf Quintana Roo.
A great mix of SUP-, Kayak- and Canoe paddlers where competing in 3 different races 30 km, 5 km and 2 km for young paddlers. For the first time, Bacalar was hosting the Quintana Roo State Championship SUP-Polo, organized by Surf Mexico and Starboard.
The SUP-Polo brought a lot fun and excitement, for participants and spectators as well, to the first day of the event. 12 teams played under hard conditions for the title, which the SUPMarinos team under the regime of Felipe Rodríguez, Cecilia Gutierrez y Miguel Cantarel Glez took home.
Early Sunday morning the long distance race went under way, with a few minutes delay the 104 paddlers (58 teams) where heading into the wind. The big Mayan Canoes, with all the power and energy of 11 paddlers where leading the bulk and in between Segundo Hernandez Montoya Veracruz (first Mexican who won the Euro Challenge Surf Ski/Kayak in 2013 and bronze in 2014) and Ronald Zavala Campeche (national selection) in his K1.
After only 3 hours and 21 min Segundo Hernandez Montoya came in as 1st over the finish line, leaving everyone behind. Ronald Zavala came in 5th overall (3hrs31min) behind last year’s winners Julio Balinas Bustamente/Alejandro Lima Amaro Veracruz (3hrs24min) double Sea Kayak, Akbal-Ha (3hrs28min) Mayan Canoe from Q.Roo and José de Jesús Aguilera Del Hombre Veracruz (3hrs29min) Surf Ski.
Monica Felix Morena Veracruz reached the finish line after 3hrs57min and got the 1st place in the Sea Kayak woman’s category.
Very early in the race Felipe (Pipe) Rodriguez Lorenzo Nayarit SUP 12.6 (who represented Mexico in the 2016 ISA Games World Standup Paddle and Paddleboard Championship in Fiji) made it clear he is here to win this harsh race in the SUP category and he finished after (3hrs40min), 1hour and 4 minutes before the second Luis Canseco SUP 14 Q.Roo crossed the finish line.
The unquestionable leader in the woman’s SUP category was Mariana Carrasco Zanini SUP 12.6 Q.Roo finishing after (5hrs15min), 17 minutes before Fanny Saucedo Diaz Q.Roo.
The Molkaab team (Leonor Alvarez Cerucha, Isis Martinez G. Canton, Monica Lomeli Saenz and Lisa Primus Stahl) Q.Roo with their 2 double pack women power won (5hrs57min) the Sit on Top Category and convinced everyone that a Sit on Top kayak is suitable for a race like this.
Although not everyone completed the race all participants enjoyed a great after race party buffet at Kai Pez where the award ceremony took place later on Sunday night. There where many great prizes for the winners, like SUP and Kayak paddles, hand signed books from Freya Hoffmeister, dry bags and 4 Level Six gift certificate (50 CAD$) which the Ballinas-Lima Team, Veracruz (Seakayak double Elite) and the Teenek Team, Hidalgo (Seakayak double Recreativo) could take home.
Monday morning Huraquan, the Mayan God of the wind had mercy with the paddlers of the sprint races and did not made even one ripple on the lake. Segundo Hernandez (2nd place 2 km and 1st place 5 km) and Ronald Zavala (1st place 2 km and 2nd place 5 km) had a head on head race and divided the 1st and 2nd places between themselves.
While Felipe Rodriguez Lorenzo SUP 12.6 again was unstoppable and won both the short races as well.
As a family event many youngsters enjoyed paddling solo or with their parents or grandparents and could check out on the outdoor exhibition what’s new on the paddling market here in Mexico. SUP boards from 4TheOutdoorMexico where available to tryout, kayak rental and demo with Conexion Nativa Cancun as well Surf Mexico showed some Starboard SUP boards. DockDepot presented the latest news on Kite Surfing.
Travel’In from Mahahual and Enamora Bacalar took great care about the culinary needs of participants and spectators alike, complying with the obligation not to use disposable plastic cups and plates. More than 400 cold coconuts where brought in for rehydration of racers and visitors and freshly cut open you did not need a drinking straw.
During the 3 days many new friendships where bounded, oltimers met again as well new contacts were made. A broad variety of Sea Kayaks, SUP boards, Surf Ski, Canoes, Sit on Top Kayaks as well an Outrigger canoe were racing against the fierce wind and each other. Enjoying the beautiful lake, great company and comradeship.
Most of them did not say goodbye, instead they said see you next year, when once again Bacalar calls together the best paddlers from all over Mexico, North and Central America for the 5th Paddle Marathon Laguna Bacalar 2018.
Hereby I will say thank you to all participants, to our sponsors, supporters and helping hands. Without you this would be not possible. Thank you and see you in 2018 in Bacalar.
Videos from the 4th Paddle Marathon Laguna Bacalar 2017
30km race 2km race 5km race Special guest of SUP Quintana Roo
Photo/Video credits Don Mostacho Production, Paddle Bacalar, Active Nature Bacalar, María Argüelles L, SUP Quintana Roo