Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | August 9, 2012

Start With The End

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to speak to several groups about what it was like to compete in the Texas Water Safari with my son, Jonathan. Those of you who follow my blog know that the 260-mile Texas Water Safari is billed as the world’s toughest canoe race. It’s impossible to compete in an event like this without gleaning at least a few practical insights for daily living along the way. One of my many take-away insights came at the start of the race. When Jonathan and I were in position at the start of the race, my thoughts turned to the end of the race — something that we would experience almost four days later. In those brief minutes before the starting gun signaled the start, I was more determined than ever to make it to the end of the race.

I think it’s important to think about the end when you are at the beginning. Jonathan and I often talked about the finish line. In fact, Jonathan made it a point for me to not see the finish line on any of our training runs. He wanted for me to see it for the first time on the official race. I’m glad he did because the desire to make it all the way to the end and across the finish line is one of the things that kept me going mile after grueling mile. Thinking about the end had a definite and practical impact on every decision we made along the way, including how much to rest, when to take a few minutes to cool down in the river, and maintaining our nutritional intake. Keeping the end in mind gave purpose of every paddle stroke.

One of the good things about the Texas Water Safari is that the race is broken down into manageable portions with mandatory checkpoints along the way. The miles between these checkpoints are the smaller bites that help participants to successfully eat this elephant of a race. These checkpoints enabled us to get a few minutes of rest, to get refreshed, to keep things in context, and to maintain our focus on the end — the finish line. Every time we arrived at and then paddled away from a checkpoint, it made reaching the end that much more of a reality.

When we finally reached the finish line more than 93-hours after we had started, my thoughts turned back to the start of the race. It seemed surreal that we had actually finished the course — something that took an estimated quarter-million paddle strokes. I firmly believe that we reached the finish line because we started with the end in mind and because we made decisions along the way that kept us on track to reach the end of the course. If you are facing a daunting task, take time to consider the end before you start, break it down into manageable portions, get started, and keep paddling. It’s all worth it when you reach the finish line.


  1. This is an excellent perspective and in fact the only perspective influencing our daily walk. Thank you, Omar for how you have touched so many lives.

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