Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | November 30, 2012

The Reality Is Sinking In

Preparing for the 2013 Texas Water Safari

When it comes to the Texas Water Safari, the worst mistake that anybody can make is to underestimate the importance of training for this grueling 260-mile ultra-marathon canoe race. After having completed the Safari with my son Jonathan this past June, I am more determined than ever to step up my training for next year’s race. My friend Doyle has agreed to paddle with me in next year’s race. Jonathan is going to paddle with a younger partner in the hope of improving his time on his third Safari. Early yesterday morning, Doyle and I headed to the San Marcos River for our second official training run. We loaded the canoe onto his truck, stopped by Chic-fil-A for a quick breakfast, and then headed toward Luling, Texas.

Canoe at Chic-fil-A
TWS Training Run 2
When we arrived in Luling we parked my truck at Zedler Mill Dam. Our plan was to paddle the 22-miles between the first Safari checkpoint at Staples, Texas and the second Safari checkpoint where Highway 90 crosses the San Marcos River outside of Luling. From there we planned to paddle an additional 3-three miles to the portage at Zedler Mill Dam. Our training strategy is to paddle the entire course of the race before next June. We will paddle some of the more technical sections of the course more than once and continue to improve our paddling technique. We have a second lesson scheduled for next week with our instructor Holly Orr of Paddle with Style, a highly regarded instructor in the world of Texas canoeing and kayaking.

Prairie Lea Rapids
Tree Portage

Once again, the water in the San Marcos River was lower than we had hoped. This presented all sorts of new challenges along the way. The low water exposed all sorts of new obstacles including rocks, downed trees, gravel bars, and more. We encountered log jams to rival those along the Neches River Wilderness Canoe Race course. As a result, we had to portage more than a dozen times over gravel bars and three times through or around log jams. All of this slowed us down more than we had expected so that by the time we reached Luling 90 we had little daylight remaining. As we paddled toward Luling 90 we prayed for a good Samaritan to be there to give me a ride to pick up my truck since we would not make it to the Zedler Dam portage in daylight as we had hoped. As we rounded the last bend we saw a solitary figure on the bank — a young college student named Ryan who was checking out a fishing spot. He graciously agreed to give me a ride.

Blake's Menu
Doyle and I stopped to eat a burger at Blake’s Restaurant in Luling, a small-town cafe with a vintage feel and delicious food. Doyle remarked about how reality is starting to sink in as a result of this training run. The Texas Water Safari is going to be hard. This race always lives up to its reputation as the world’s toughest canoe race. I know that it’s hard. Doyle is beginning to realize just how hard it’s going to be but he is still all in. I sent Doyle a text just to remind him that if we had been on the Safari instead of a training run, we would still be on the river. That is a sobering thought, but it’s important to prepare mentally and not just physically. Doyle replied that he is still all in. In the coming weeks we will continue our physical training and our mental training as well. We will need both in order to finish the race. Thanks for following our adventure.

Text Message


  1. Omar, you picked a GREAT partner and, of course, Doyle couldn’t have a better one. I am proud of both you guys. Keep pressing on and stay the course.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Jeff.

  2. I envy you. The TWS is one I’d love to try – but I think it’s way beyond my abilities!

    • I did it for the first time this past summer with my son. It is the toughest physical challenge I have ever faced. That memory is driving me hard to do more training. Hopefully will make it to the finish line at next year’s race. And hopefully the water level in the river will be higher than we have seen on our training runs. Thanks for following our journey.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


%d bloggers like this: