A drive from San Marcos to Seadrift, according to Google Maps, is supposed to take 2 hours and 37 minutes. That, of course, depends on traffic.
Now do the same trip; but trade the car for a canoe, the accelerator for a paddle and those three highways (80, 183, 87) for two rivers (San Marcos and Guadalupe) — and it takes a bit longer. Officials from the Texas Water Safari give paddlers 100 hours to get to the Seadrift Flagpole and Pavilion, which sounds like a generous estimate if it weren’t for logjams and other boat-crushing obstacles.
More than 100 teams — 114, to be exact — gathered at Spring Lake last Friday to check-in for the 51st installment of the event. Organizers honored paddlers like John Bugge for completing the race more than 20 times, welcomed 21 novice teams (including the trio of British bartenders and myself), dedicated the race to Brad Ellis (a 30-year-old man from Dripping Springs, who died last year from complications during the race) and clarified several safety-first rule changes that won’t affect the integrity of “The World’s Toughest Boat Race.”
Above all, anticipation and excitement filled the air as paddlers prepared their boats for the challenging journey and mingled with each other. New teams shared stories of what made them enter and their training regimen, while Safari veterans caught up with friends and discussed plans of attack.