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Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Congratulations for finishing World's Toughest Canoe Race

By By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 18, 2014 at 1:18 a.m.


The Texas Water Safari is known as the world's toughest canoe race - and for good reason. Competitors leave San Marcos and travel 260 miles down the Guadalupe River to Seadrift over a period of 100 hours. For most, simply finishing the race is a huge accomplishment.

This year, the first boat to cross the finish line was boat No. 150, which was paddled by a six-man team of safari veterans. The team made it to Seadrift three minutes after 1 a.m., just past the 40-hour mark. Congratulations to Jeff Glock, Andrew Condie, Gaston Jones, Wade Binion, Ian Rolls and Clay Wyatt.

Every year, the Advocate looks for unique stories to cover. Every racer has his or her story and reason for racing. This year, we found inspiration in the stories of two individuals in particular. One of those, 76-year-old Roger Zimmerman, became the oldest person to finish the race. He was also a competitor in the first Texas Water Safari in 1963. Zimmerman was in boat No. 3333, named "Frankenbarge," with John Valdivia, Kenneth Startz and Santiago Marroquin. The team finished the race with a time of 74 hours and 52 minutes.

Another racer who caught our attention was Heather Harrison, a 34-year-old mother of two sons who decided to race solo this year. Harrison finished the race at 3:33 p.m. Tuesday, which seems like the perfect time, considering she was paddling in boat No. 333. Last year, she was part of an all-women team called "Red Hot." Harrison kept the name as she faced the race alone this year, and after crossing the finish line, she admitted that she prefers to be part of a team.

Racers this year faced the added difficulty of logjams, which meant paddlers had to spend more time moving their boats over and around the obstacles. But despite the additional complication, racers still finished, and we applaud them for their grit, determination and stamina. This is a feat not many would attempt twice or even once.

We applaud all those who had a hand in organizing the Texas Water Safari. This annual test of strength and stamina has become a tradition in our area, and we are always excited when it returns. We look forward to seeing the look of relief and triumph on competitors' faces when they cross the finish line in Seadrift.

As this year's race ends, we thank everyone who took part in it: competitors, organizers, team captains and even the people who greet each boat at the finish line and encourage them along the way. You are all part of what makes the world's toughest canoe race wonderful. We can't wait for next year's safari.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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