Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 3, 2015

You’ve Got to Have Heart

Preparing for the 2015 Texas Water Safari

Springtime is undoubtedly the best time to travel Texas highways and backroads. The colorful splashes and dribbles of wildflowers along our roadways make driving in the Lone Star State an absolute pleasure. And, as someone who enjoys paddling on Texas rivers, this is also the best time of the year to be on the water. Those same wildflowers can be found in abundance along the banks of Texas waterways.

Early yesterday morning, my friend Doyle and I drove to the San Marcos River to train for this year’s Texas Water Safari. Earlier this week I posted the story of Melissa James, the young lady whose courage and determination at last year’s safari inspired so many paddlers. Doyle and I were privileged to meet Melissa in San Marcos along with another paddler from Austin named Andrew. Our objective was to paddle the first 27-miles of the 260-mile Texas Water Safari race course.

With the safari only weeks away, Doyle and I are feeling the pressure to intensify our training. It was nice to join Melissa and Andrew on a training run. Melissa will paddle solo in a C1 canoe this year. This was her first training run in her C1 on this part of the course. Andrew finished the race last year but will not paddle this year. Instead he will join the folks at the checkpoints to offer encouragement to racers. That’s important and means a lot to those on the water.

Doyle and I paddled hard and kept up a good safari pace — at least a good pace for us. There are plenty of younger and stronger paddlers but we have a good handle on how to pace ourselves for the 260-mile distance. In the coming weeks, we will meet with our team captains to work out our split times for the course and to talk about our nutrition schedule. But for the moment, yesterday’s training run reminded us how hard the actual race will be.

Our time with Melissa also reminded us of something that is vital in order to survive and finish the grueling safari course. Heart — you’ve got to have heart! Your heart has got to be in this race otherwise you are not likely to go the distance. Last year, Melissa demonstrated that she has the heart of a lion. She is once again determined to go the distance. We were encouraged by her example and believe she will indeed go the distance in her first solo attempt.

Doyle and I have got lots of work to do in the next few weeks in order to be ready for our upcoming epic paddling adventure. And this year, we are paddling with a purpose. We will race to raise support to help at-risk kids in Houston’s Third Ward get the educational boost they need at Generation One Academy. My daughter Niki has just set up a special page where we will ask family and friends to invest in helping these kids. 100% of everything invested will be used to help the children at Generation One. Together we can help change the future for kids living under tough circumstances. You can check out our page at Reason2Race.

Thanks for once again following our journey of preparation to do the 2015 Texas Water Safari. You can also follow our team on Facebook/LoneStarPastors. More to come.


  1. It was great paddling with y’all! See you in June.

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