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Competitors shared memories of the challenges they faced during the Texas Water Safari

By Keldy Ortiz
June 11, 2013 at 1:11 a.m.

Cuero resident Andrew Condie, who was a member of team that reached Seadrift first in the Texas Water Safari, holds the first-place trophy for the event. Condie and many participants of the Water Safari were in attendance for the awards ceremony held in Seadrift on Tuesday afternoon.

As of 6 p.m. Tuesday, 42 boats have finished. 91 boats have yet to complete the Texas Water Safari

SEADRIFT - After spending more than three days in clothes drenched by the river and rain, John Valdivia looked forward to taking a shower.

Tuesday morning, he called it a reward for finishing the Texas Water Safari.

"I wanted to quit," said the Victoria resident. "When I went through the log jam, that was tough."

Competitors who completed the 260-mile race shared stories about their journeys and thoughts about almost not finishing the canoe race.

At times, reaching the finish line seemed impossible. Valdivia remembered getting out of his canoe to rest, and also to rid himself of the frustration he had from traveling in a canoe since Saturday.

This was his second time in the Water Safari, but his first by himself. Fighting the urge to quit took a lot out of him.

"A mental fatigue happens when you get there," said the 45-year-old. "Personally, it was a big accomplishment."

Twins Thomas and Willie Martin were first-time competitors, finishing at 4:41 a.m. Tuesday.

Back in regular clothes by the time of Tuesday's banquet, they picked up an award for finishing 22nd overall.

Really, they were just glad to finish.

"We definitely learned a lot about each other, that's for sure," chuckled Willie Martin, who resides in Austin.

"(They) got to paddle a dark body of water through the middle of the night. (They) learned to trust their judgment," said Leigh Martin, their father. "I don't think anyone anticipated receiving an award."

As the banquet continued, paddlers Julie Morgan and Colin Grimshaw arrived to Seadrift . The couple from Western Australia were welcomed by a round of applause.

"We finished the race a couple of times before. We wanted to come back and finish the race and that's what we did," said Morgan, 54. "We had a slightly different approach, not racing from the start."

The pair completed their third race. Grimshaw called the run an adventure. One they couldn't get through without support from each other, and that of their Texas friends.

"A lot of our friends, when we used to live in Houston, have been involved in the Water Safari and had lots of good things to say," he said. "It's a great bunch of people."

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