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Boaters prep for Water Safari at preview event (video)

By Keldy Ortiz
May 4, 2013 at 12:04 a.m.
Updated May 5, 2013 at 12:05 a.m.

From left, Logan Mynar, Andrew Condie and Kyle Mynar relax and wait for the other canoes to cross the finish line after taking first.

CUERO - Canoeing has been a family tradition for Brandon Stafford.

Preparing to compete in his sixth safari race, Stafford, 28, who is a fireman for the Victoria Fire Department, wanted to do well in Saturday's Texas River Marathon.

Growing up by the river in Cuero, Stafford enjoyed water sports. His dad participated in water races such as the Texas Water Safari, a 260-mile race from San Marcos to Seadrift.

"I want to see how much better I can do every year," he said. "You have to be able to put long hours, and overcome fatigue to be able to push through and finish this race."

The Texas River Marathon on Saturday started from the River Haven RV Resort in Cuero, and ended at Riverside Park in Victoria, which totaled 35 miles.

The marathon on Saturday determined a person or team's starting position in the upcoming Texas Water Safari in June, which will feature participants from different states and countries.

Over 100 boats entered the marathon, which can consist of one or as many as six people on a canoe, said Allen Spelce, president of the Texas Water Safari. Spelce said that competing in events such as the marathon and the safari require preparation that is not done overnight.

"It's pretty intense compared to other canoe races," he said. "(The marathon) usually weeds out a lot of folks to get ready for the big one in June."

Competing in the marathon, Michael Vandeveer, 41, of Cuero and a teammate of Stafford, said he understands the physicality of this race. The wear and tear of trying to finish in both the marathon and the water safari.

"You have to be in decent shape no matter what. I like the physical challenge," said Vandeveer, 41. He first participated in the marathon in 2004. "I'm in it to finish. I'm in better shape than I was back then."

While many participated in the marathon, many more were watching on the sidelines. Ken Startz of Victoria has been competing marathons for 10 years after being in martial arts for 20 years.

He didn't compete in the marathon this year because of a broken hand, but said he will participate in June even if his group is positioned in the back of the race.

"It's quite addictive," said Startz, 49 about participating in the marathon.

Vandeveer and Stafford finished fifth in the race overall with their team. Vandeveer said he felt satisfied about the way the team performed and their chances in June.

"I think we will be all right," he said with a smile.

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