Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 4, 2013

A Day On The River

Preparing for the 2013 Texas Water Safari

With each passing week, the pressure is mounting to prepare for the 260-mile Texas Water Safari ultra-marathon canoe race. Although the start of the race in June is still months away, my opportunities to train are limited because of my travel schedule. I leave for India on Thursday and will be away for ten days. That’s why I thought it wise to take a vacation day today to do one more training run with Doyle before I leave the country.

As more and more folks follow our training adventures on my blog, I get lots of questions about the race and about our training. So, I thought I would answer some of those questions in this post.

Omar at Cummings

At Cummings Dam along the San Marcos River.

Q: Is everybody doing the race in a canoe?
A: No. While many racers opt for a canoe, many race in kayaks of various lengths — some with solo and tandem paddlers and some with as many as six paddlers. And, for the first time last year, my new friend Shane Perrin did the safari on a stand-up paddleboard, making safari history!

Q: Why did you choose to do the race in a canoe?
A: Because an aluminum canoe is very tough and more forgiving than boats made of other materials, which is great for newer paddlers like us.

Q: What is a typical training day like?
A: Well, today Doyle and I did the first sixteen miles of the course once again. Below is a timeline of today’s training.

Loading Canoe

Loading canoe and gear at 6:45 AM.

Buc-ees Sign

Love Buc-ee’s!

5:30 AM Wake up
6:45 AMLoad canoe and gear onto Doyle’s truck
7:00 AMLeave my house
7:05 AMStop for fuel
7:09 AMQuick breakfast at Whataburger
7:23 AMHead for San Marcos
8:56 AMStop at Buc-ee’s
9:07 AMLeave Buc-ee’s
9:41 AMArrive at City Park in San Marcos
9:57 AMIn the canoe
10:06 AMFirst portage at Rio Vista Dam
10:20 AMSecond portage at Thompson’s Island Road Bridge
10:55 AMAt the Blanco River confluence
11:05 AMThird portage at Cummings Dam
11:44 AMPaddle past Don’s Fish Camp
12:00 PMRun Cottonseed Rapids (somewhat inelegantly today)
12:15 PMStudy rapids from bank and then leave Cottonseed
12:21 PMPaddle past Skull’s Crossing
12:37 PMFourth portage at Martindale Dam
12:50 PMPaddle under FM 1979
1:09 PMPaddle past the “Texas Flag” barn (one hour from Staples Dam)
2:05 PMArrive at Staples Dam
2:10 PMCall cab to drive Doyle to City Park to get his truck
3:34 PMLoad canoe and gear
4:02 PMLunch at Luling BBQ
4:30 PMStop for fuel, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Kettle Corn at Buc-ee’s
6:30 PMArrive home and off-load gear

Q: What do you talk about while you train?
A: When Doyle and I agreed to do the safari, we felt that the only way to enjoy our training and our time on the river was by not turning our canoe into an extension of our offices. So, we do not talk shop! Period. If we ride together to and from training we listen to iTunes and TED talks. On the river, a typical conversation sounds something like this:

Doyle: Let’s paddle toward the vee in the current up ahead.
Omar: Ok.

Doyle: Hut (voice command to paddle on opposite side).
Omar: I see a sub (submerged log or object) ahead. I’m gonna’ draw slightly right.

Doyle: Ok. Stay right and then follow the current to the deeper water near the bank.
Omar: Got it!

Doyle: Hut.
Omar: Feral hogs ahead on the left bank. They do lots of damage!

Doyle: Look at that thing run up the bank. Looks like a locomotive.
Omar: Powerful animal.

Doyle: Hut.
Omar: Water looks really shallow ahead.

Doyle: Let’s veer left and keep this line toward the opposite bank. Hut.
Omar: Got it. Love this cool weather. It’s gonna be super hot when we do this in June.

Doyle: Hut. Yeah. I still can’t wrap my mind around this race.
Omar: Just think that on race day we will be in this canoe for at least four days!

Q: How many more training runs will you do before the race?
A: We are trying to squeeze training runs in wherever we can on our calendars. We have already registered for the Texas River Marathon race in May. This is the preliminary race to the water safari. We hope to get a better starting position at the safari as a result of doing this race. We also have training runs scheduled with my son Jonathan and his safari paddling partner, including paddling the San Antonio Bay crossing to the finish line.

Doyle's Scar

Doyle’s cool souvenir from today’s training run. Paddling under tree branches can hurt!

Q: Are you afraid you might not be able to finish?
A: Anything can happen along the way that can unexpectedly throw a wrench in the works. But, barring nothing like that, we are determined to make it to the finish line in the allotted time.

Q: Do you feel that you have made progress in the time you have been training together?
A: Absolutely. We both feel stronger after each training run. We are also being very intentional about our paddling technique. We will paddle an estimated quarter-of-a-million paddle strokes during the race, so we want to make sure we paddle as efficiently as possible.

Today's training run as plotted by our Spot Tracker.

Today’s training run as plotted by our Spot Tracker.

Q: Will we be able to follow your progress during the race?
A: Yes. We are hoping that many of you will make it to some of the checkpoints along the course. And we will also have a Spot Tracker during the race that will send our position every few minutes to an online map that you can follow on your smart phone or computer. Also, my daughter Niki who will serve as our team captain has set up a Lone Star Pastors (our team name) Facebook page where she will post our video updates recorded at checkpoints during the race.

More in the weeks to come. Thanks for following our adventure as we continue our preparations for the Texas Water Safari.


  1. Training looks good!

    Next time you eat in San Marcos try Bobcat Nation Sports Bar and Grill. My brother owns the place!

    • Thanks for the heads-up. We will definitely have to try out your brother’s place. I will also tell Jonathan about it.

  2. We love you guys

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