Articles in Texas Water Safari
Yucca flowers in front of my Fort Collins house remind me that it is time for Texas Water Safari. This 260 mile nonstop paddling race from San Marcos to Seadrift start every year on the second Saturday of June.
Texas Water Safari was my first racing experience and still remains the most important one. We went to Texas to observe the 2001 Safari, then I finished three races solo: 2002, 2003, and 2005. I couldn’t attend the race postponed due to flooding in 2004. Connie was my Team Captain. It appears that she really didn’t like that job after all (what a surprise …), but she wrote some good tips for team captains and support crew.
My TWS reports and pictures are still available at Mountain Wayfarer (some links may be broken). I gathered most of these pictures (165) into a slide show below. The far left button in a toolbar opens a gallery page with four picture albums.
This year I am returning back to Texas Water Safari, not in a boat, unfortunately. I am flying to Texas with my camera, so more pictures will be available soon.
My Experience in Three Famous Ultra Marathon Paddling Races
12 years ago, after paddling folding kayaks for more than 20 years, I got my first hard shell boat. I built a stitch-and-glue 19.5 Patuxent from CLC, perhaps the fastest kayak available for home building at that time. Racing? No, I just wanted to travel fast by water to some remote photography destinations.
A couple years later I was surfing the internet looking for winter paddling opportunities on Padre Island. I have never gone paddling there. Instead, I discovered the Texas Water Safari. Hours of watching video tapes produced by Pat Spencer, three visits to Texas including the 2001 race and two boats later I ran my first paddling race: 2002 TWS. I was hooked.
Since then, I have completed the Texas Water Safari three times, entered three WaterTribe events and finished one Everglades Challenge, completed three Missouri River 340 Races, and several shorter events from 10 to 100 miles.
How can I compare these three ultra-marathon paddling races? Which one is the toughest, the most challenging?
The distance to be covered by the racers seem to be quite similar. All three races run non-stop with mandatory checkpoints. You need to be prepared to paddle day and night, and paddling conditions can change drastically with the weather. TWS and MR340 are river races while EC is a coastal race with longer timeframe.
Everybody has a different story and experience. I am not a competitive athlete. My goal is just to finish the race, competing mostly against myself. My additional challenge is to shoot pictures and video when racing. The perspective of Carter Johnson, who paddled all three races in a surfski setting a solo record every time, would be quite different.
End of the year, time for some summaries and reflections. I am describing below all races in 2005 which I paddled and/or trained for. As usual I had a lot of racing plans, but I missed two major races.
WaterTribe Everglades Challenge
“Adventure in small boats.” 300 …