Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | June 3, 2013

Why I Am Doing the Safari

Preparing for the 2013 Texas Water Safari

With the start of the Texas Water Safari now only days away, I thought I would share the top ten reasons why I will once again put myself through the torture of paddling a canoe 260 miles from San Marcos to Seadrift, Texas. I hope there is a lesson or two here that might encourage you on your own journey, whether on or off the river.

10. The Texas Water Safari feeds my need for adventure. | I have regarded life itself as an adventure since my childhood days. For whatever reason, I have always been a restless soul, preferring to be in motion. In the words of Thomas Carlyle, “I’ve got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom.” The Texas Water Safari is one of the best adventures I have ever experienced and certainly worth the pain.

Jonathan and Dad
9. The Texas Water Safari is tough.
| The Texas Water Safari is rightly billed as the world’s toughest canoe race. Having completed the race last year with my son, Jonathan, I can honestly say that this ultra-marathon race is indeed the toughest physical challenge I have ever faced. The fellowship of finishers know that words seem less than adequate to describe the intensity of this adventure.

8. The Texas Water Safari has a risk of failure. | There is something about us that likes to play it safe and to mitigate risk to ourselves and our loved ones. However, I want to always have at least one challenge in my life that scares me or fills me with some measure of concern. On the Texas Water Safari, the risk of failure is always looming around the next bend or lurking just beneath the surface. That’s ok with me because it is that risk that makes the race exciting and makes me feel totally alive while doing it.

Rio Vista Dam
7. The Texas Water Safari stretches me.
| I had no idea how far I could push myself until I completed the Texas Water Safari last year. I reached the point of exhaustion so many times along the way only to discover that I have deeper untapped reserves. I reached the finish line with a better understanding of myself and what it takes to go one more mile.

6. I can’t do the Texas Water Safari alone. | Someone defined fellowship as two fellows in a ship. Whether you paddle with a six-man team or paddle tandem or solo, the Texas Water Safari is all about fellowship and teamwork — before, during, and after the race. And, regardless of who you are, the encouragement of family, friends, and fans along the way spurs you on to do your best.

Log Jam Portage
5. The Texas Water Safari teaches me to be ready for the unexpected.
| Rowing your boat merrily down the stream is a cute kids song but, in reality, the river often has more than a few surprises along the way that can make the experience less than merry. I’m talking about the kind of stuff that can seriously mess with you and your progress. The Texas Water Safari forces you to stay alert and to develop the paddling skills that will get you to the finish line.

4. The friendship of other paddlers. | I have met some really nice folks on each of the races I have participated in since I started paddling with Jonathan. One of the best things about doing a race like the Texas Water Safari is re-connecting with the friends we have made on previous races. I often tell people how much I enjoy the über-friendly paddling community in Texas. Any journey is made more enjoyable when you find yourself in the company of friendly folks.

3. The Texas Water Safari pushes me to go beyond.
| I am all about going beyond (thus the title of my blog). Each of us have a geography of our lives that is defined by boundaries that mark the farthest we’ve ever been and the most we’ve ever done. The only way to redefine our lives is by going beyond those boundaries — doing something we have never done before. The geography of my life looked much different after last year’s Texas Water Safari. I am thankful for that.

2. The training and anticipation. | For me, the journey is the adventure. The destination is just the cherry on top. You don’t just buy a boat and show up for the Texas Water Safari. The adventure begins long before the race ever starts, when you spend long hours paddling and training on the river. Every training run is an adventure that builds anticipation for the big day.

Running Cottonseed Rapids on the San Marcos River.

1. The river is a healing place. | My son Jonathan is the reason I started a new chapter of adventures on Texas rivers. Years ago, our family went through a dark period during Jonathan’s prodigal years, days when we thought we might lose him. God protected Jonathan and gave him back to us. When Jonathan started paddling on the San Marcos River, I eagerly joined him. The many hours and miles we have spent together on the river have been like a soothing and healing balm. I often tell people that the reason I do the Texas Water Safari and other river races is not because I love canoeing but because I love my son. And that is the top reason why I will once again endure four grueling days on the Texas Water Safari.

TWS Training D and O
This year, Jonathan will paddle boat 1984 with his friend Bob and I will paddle boat 316 with my friend Doyle. Thanks for following our adventure. Doyle and I have worked hard over the past several months to prepare for the Texas Water Safari. I will post a link to our SpotTracker page on Friday for those of you who would like to follow our progress in near real-time. You can also follow our adventure on the Facebook page set up by my daughter Niki. The page is entitled Lone Star Pastors and also has a link to Jonathan’s TWS Facebook page.


  1. Y’all are gonna crush it! So impressed with the efforts you both have put in to do this.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Kay. We are both ready to get on the river and do this big race.

  2. Looking forward to following the race again this year. It was nice to wake up in the middle of the night last year to check on your progress and pray. This year I will be following two canoes! Praying for safety and much fun!

    • Thank you, Patricia. I really appreciate your encouragement. Hopefully Doyle and I and Jonathan and Bob will make steady progress throughout the race and not have one of those delays while trying to cross the bay in the middle of the night like last year that had everyone worried about our safety. We all appreciate your prayers.

  3. So well said O -As my friend Mike Kelley says I am obligated to pray for the four of you- what an honor to pray and follow you on your journey- Phil 4:19

    • Thanks a million, Sandy. Grateful for every prayer.

  4. Hi Omar, I certainly will be praying for you and my brother, as well as your son Jonathan and his friend. Be safe, have fun, and make treasured memories!
    Love the Lone Star Pastors!


    • Thanks, Tonya. Doyle and I have already had some great adventures preparing for the big race. The TWS will be the cherry on top. We all appreciate your prayers.

  5. Great read and way to sum up many of the best reasons to do the Safari. I can’t wait to follow you in the race.

    • Thank you, Wally. I appreciate your following our adventure.

  6. What a great article. Thanks so much for sharing. I couldn’t sleep tonight for thinking about all the hazards on the Safari course and so I signed onto FB to see if I was the only one who couldn’t sleep. I am going solo for the first time. I met your son in 2011 when he and his partner was paddling alongside my son in another boat. I have finished tandem with my sister in 2010 and my husband in 2012. I look forward to seeing you on the river! We have a similiar story of how the Safari brought our family back together after many years of turmoil. This is also a very important reason why we paddle.

    Brenda Jones

    • Thanks, Brenda. I appreciate you sharing a bit of your story. I met your son and your husband last year. I wish you all the very best as you paddle the TWS this year, especially as you paddle solo. Wow! That inspires me. Look forward to seeing you soon.

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