Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 14, 2013

Like Eating An Elephant

Preparing for the 2013 Texas Water Safari

Progress. Doyle and I are definitely making progress as we continue our preparation for the 2013 Texas Water Safari. This 260-mile ultra-marathon canoe race is billed as the world’s toughest. And indeed it is. Everything about this race is designed to test the limits of a paddler’s endurance — the course, heat, hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, river critters, portages, unexpected hick-ups along the way, log jams, rapids, flat water, wind, waves, and more. One thing is for sure, you don’t just buy a canoe and show up for this race. You have to train and train and train.

This morning we got an early start and drove to San Marcos to do the first 16-miles of the race, a stretch of water that has some technical challenges. On race day, we will have six-hours to make it from the starting line to the first checkpoint at Staples Dam. When Doyle and I agreed to do the race a few months ago and paddled this section of the course for the first time, it took us a full six hours. Disappointing. Today, we did it in less than four. That’s progress and the fruit of lots of training over the past months.

It was a beautiful day on the San Marcos River.

It was a beautiful day on the San Marcos River.

Although my son Jonathan and I completed the race last year, it’s still hard for me to wrap my mind around the hard realities of this race. In some respects, doing the Texas Water Safari is 90% mental with the remaining 10% being mental as well. It’s not enough to be in decent shape to paddle the race course. It takes a 100% mental commitment to not give up, to paddle through the pain, and to persevere to the end. Just like the Amazing Race, unexpected stuff can happen along the way that can end the race prematurely. But, barring no unexpected problems, we hope to make it from start to finish in less than the 100-hour time limit.

Portage at Cummings Dam.

Portage at Cummings Dam.

One of the things that I try to keep in mind is that this race is really ten shorter races that must be completed in succession. After leaving the starting line, we will have ten checkpoints, the final one being at the Salt Water Barrier on the Guadalupe River. From there, it is only sixteen-miles to the finish line at Seadrift, Texas, five of those miles being across the open water of San Antonio Bay. If we can complete these shorter races in the required times, then we can finish the big race. It’s just like eating an elephant. It may take a while but it can be done — one bite at a time!

A great reminder that we are training for the TEXAS Water Safari.

A great reminder that we are training for the TEXAS Water Safari.


  1. I live in Victoria and each year I follow the progress of the partcipants through media coverage. It is a challenging race, to say the least, and yes, physical stamina comes into play but the greatest factor is the mental challenge. It sounds like you and Doyle are preparing well for the challenge…thanks for letting us experience the race through you. God bless.

    • Thanks for following the TWS, Rhonda. As painful as I know it will be, I am looking forward to doing the race again this year. Will continue to post updates. Thanks also for following our journey.

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