Climb Guyana sporting activities igniting interest in North Rupununi

And they are off! Athletes participating in the inaugural Rupununi Marathon set off from the starting point outside the Oasis Service Centre at Annai during the Caricom Weekend event held earlier this month (photo courtesy of Climb Guyana)

By Alva Solomon

The North Rupununi villages of Massara and Aranaputa were abuzz with excitement during the Caricom Weekend, earlier this month, as scores of residents, visitors and participants converged there to witness a highly anticipated marathon and canoe regatta.

Both events were inaugurally being held at these two villages, which sit near to the Annai sub-district. And while the activities were performed in the sweltering heat of the savannah lands, the organisers, Climb Guyana, ensured that the rest of the country was kept abreast of each event via social media.

The Rupununi Marathon

According to Amanda Wilson, founder of Climb Guyana, this 26.2-mile marathon was successfully hosted on July 3, and the results were beyond the organisers’ expectations. As far as she could recall, it was the first mountain-marathon held in the Rupununi, and the organisers had mapped out a unique course for the participants.

Two participants in the inaugural Rupununi Marathon trekking through the swamp lands below the Pakaraima Mountain Range in their quest to win the $100,000 top prize

The event commenced with 25 athletes dashing out from the Oasis Service Centre in Annai to race along the swampy terrain at the foot of the Pakaraima Mountain Range and along mountain tracks above the Aranaputa Valley.

Besides runners from the Rupununi, there were both male and female participants from neighbouring Venezuela and Brazil competing with the locals.

“I was happy to see so many young people running in a marathon for the first time, including members from the FC Basin in Aranaputa,” Wilson has said.

Guyanese Owen Brown, who hails from Aranaputa, comfortably won the race and walked away with a cash prize worth $100,000. Brazilian Wellington Barbosa DaSilva and Guyanese Aaron Paulin crossed the line in second and third place, and earned for themselves respective cash prizes of $50,000 and $30,000.

Wilson has said this event would be hosted annually, and marathon enthusiasts from Suriname and Brazil have already indicated their interest in participating in the event next year.

She describes the event as adding to the tourism product that Aranaputa has to offer; the other aspects of the product include hiking, fishing and bird watching.

Participants in the Canoe Regatta paddling across the waterlogged landscape at Massara village during the event held earlier this month

Wilson has said that the marathon was a pop-up event, which she described as “different”. She said it gave the participants a chance to see the beauty of the Aranaputa Valley, and it presented a unique challenge for them to explore that valley in search of the winning prizes. The Aranaputa Village Council was fully involved in the event, Wilson added.

She has said that Climb Guyana, conceptualised in the North Rupununi in 2021, is making a name for itself. “The territory’s serene and mountainous beauty matched our inner adventurer spirit, and we wanted to share our unbelievable and memorable experiences with others,” she declared.

It has also been noted that this event, and future events which Climb Guyana plans to host in the area, would benefit the economic growth of the North Rupununi. Importantly, Wilson said, the Climb Guyana team has been working closely with Indigenous villages in the area, and visitors would revel in the joys of the savannah region through the eyes of its Indigenous inhabitants as future events are undertaken there.

The Massara Canoe Regatta

The village of Massara was the venue for a highly competitive canoe regatta that was held on July 4, the day after the marathon was held at Aranaputa.

Two female runners traversing the roadway at Aranaputa in their quest to win the top prizes in Climb Guyana’s Rupununi Marathon, which was held earlier this month (Photo courtesy of Climb Guyana)

Villagers and spectators were treated to several exciting moments as the participants battled in races across the waterlogged portions of the savannah near the Massara main road.

Wilson has said that the Caricom Weekend events could not have been possible without several corporate entities boosting the successful hosting of these two events. The sponsors include ANSA McAL, Banks DIH Ltd, Sterling Products Ltd, Massy, Matt Falloon, Green Mango Media, the Island Swim Collection, BVI, and Cindy’s Bus Service, among many other generous entities.

Climb Guyana was launched in November 2021 with an expedition held in the Kanuku Mountains. The focus of this tourism/sports/adventure-branded entity is to showcase Guyana’s rugged beauty by using competitive adventures, from trekking the mountains to marathons and savannah canoe regattas.

A race up the Kanuku Mountains towards Schomburgk’s Peak has marked the culmination of an eventful first step in the plans of Climb Guyana.