Competitors complete 51st Texas Water Safari (video)
SEADRIFT - Mike Drost closed his eyes as he sat on a beach chair under some shade Monday morning.
Barely 12 hours earlier, he and his partner, Curt Slaten, were traveling along the Guadalupe River on a rainy Sunday night en route to the boat ramp in Seadrift, the final destination for competitors in the Texas Water Safari. Their goal was to finish in the top half.
"We let everybody run their race," said Drost, 46. "We just wanted to finish."
The pair finished 13th overall at the 51st Texas Water Safari, but instead of paddling to the finish line, they walked.
"I had tremendous downturn of energy. I was 90 percent sure I was going to pull out," said Slaten, 48, who finished his fourth competition. "I never had such a hard start."
Competitors arrived to the Seadrift pier Monday without sleep and with a feeling of discomfort, but, overall, were glad they completed the 260-mile race.
Slaten and Drost finished the competition at 2:27 p.m., while John Bugge and Megan Yeager arrived at 11:46 a.m.
Bugge, 62, who resides in Luling, finished for the 34th time, but enjoyed the journey this time around. He said during the late hours, Yeager needed to rest so she can be prepared to finish the race.
"My girlfriend, Megan, is becoming much better as a paddler," Bugge said. "She's a real trooper. We did so well because we worked as a team."
"We had such an awesome second day," she said. "We just took really good care of ourselves, and it paid off."
Dawn Bugge, 45, co-captain and daughter of John, said she cries every year he completes the race. She said she looks forward to the race every year because she wants to contribute to his success.
"I want to be their supporter, not their hindrance." Dawn said. "Every year, I'm more proud. I don't imagine him not ever doing it."
At 12:46 p.m., Darryl Jiral, 50, arrived at the pier. He was on a three-person boat that also included his 21-year-old daughter, Kaitlin.
"My dad has been doing this since I was 7," said Kaitlin Jiral. "I love this race. Usually, I'm just a team captain."
Training every weekend and traveling down river for 40 miles, Kaitlin Jiral said she saw the highs and lows of the trip.
"No one was talking (at one point)," she said. "Everyone has a bug for this, and now I do, too."
As for Bugge, he said he planned to greet all the racers who paddled to the finish line. He said he wants to congratulate the finishers for overcoming challenges to complete the journey.
"We know how special and difficult it is," he said.