“Yes, it’s a race, but just finishing is winning,” said David Brown, a Live Oak County resident.
The race he’s talking about is the annual canoe endurance race that begins in San Marcos and ends 260 miles later in Seadrift along the Texas coast.
It’s the Texas Water Safari Race and draws participants from all over the world. Film crews from around the world are also on hand to bear witness to all the trials and tribulations it takes to make the journey.
The race is limited to 100 hours. If you and your paddling buddy have not made it to the coast in 100 hours, you are pulled from the water as the race ends at that time.
Brown had made the trip once before as a young college student with his best friend. The duo made a pact that they would one day try again with their own sons if given the chance.
Brown and 17-year-old son Cody got their chance this year. The trip begins in the San Marcos River at San Marcos and flows gently for the first miles. Only the hot sun, mosquitoes and dehydration are a problem. But, once the river merges with the Guadalupe River things begin to get interesting and a good deal more dangerous. Horrific log jams, steep banks, swift rapids, boulders, alligators and poisonous snakes become a daily if not hourly disaster to overcome. Below Victoria, the river runs through coastal swamps all the way to the bay.
The racers also have to cross a small portion of the bay and that was also a hardship to endure at the end of such a test of endurance and fortitude.
“The bay was treacherous. Waves were breaking over the bow of the canoe and we weren’t sure if we would capsize or swamp because of the rough bay,” said Cody.
“We were paddling and bailing water to keep us afloat while trying to keep our bow into the waves. There was no moon and it was pitch black; we weren’t real sure if we were lost or not.”
The Browns finished the test of endurance in 96 hours in their 17-foot Grumman two-man aluminum canoe.
The Brown team included a support team of several family members and friends. Stewart Brown, Sidney Moore, Rhonda Brown, Taylor Brown, Jason Gass, Elizabeth Gass, Savanna McCumber and Tiffany Daughtry
First-timers in the race only finish about five percent of the time. David belongs to the elite club of finishers and now so does Cody. The younger Brown also holds the honor of being the youngest competitor at the 2013 race.
When asked if he wanted to do it again, Cody thought for a slight moment and then slowly shook his head.
“It’s quite an endeavor,” said his dad.