The Texas Water Safari has been postponed for the first time since 2016.
The race, which was set to be held June 13-17, has been pushed back to September 12-16 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with the race being postponed, the prelim “river marathon” to the race and the Junior Texas Water Safari have also been canceled.
Full refunds will be made to those who preregistered for the events.
“I’m lucky to have an experienced team and they know what they are getting into,” said Holly Orr, who has raced in the safari for 19 years. “I’ve also worked with a lot of novices this year because I do coaching and the majority won’t be able to race this year.”
Orr owns a paddling business where she gives canoe and kayak lessons.
She thinks that the move to September will be an adjustment, but may also be a blessing in disguise for those trying to race in the water safari for the first time.
“The few novices that are racing, it’s definitely going to help them to have that extra couple of months to prepare and train,” Orr said.
Allen Spelce, the Texas Water Safari race director, said that it was never a question if the race would happen this year – but when.
“It was a discussion of should we try to do this in July, August or September? We didn’t want to go any further out than that because folks then start focusing on next year’s race,” he said. “Then you add to that school and sports coming back and it gets difficult.”
Spelce said that most have been understanding with why the race needed to be delayed.
“Mostly it’s been positive feedback that we have gotten,” he said. “At the time, people weren’t able to train with social distancing going on. Folks are starting to feel a little sad because they realize that the race won’t happen in a couple of weeks. They understand why we made the decision and we’ve had a good overall response.”
The board of the Texas Water Safari is hoping that it will be a decent sized race in September.
“We’re still not sure if it’s going to be a big, medium or small sized race,” Spelce said. “We don’t know how many racers will actually show up and do the race. I know there will be racers, the question is just how many team’s will show up and how big it will be.”
The race takes place over five days and covers 260 miles from San Marcos to Seadrift.
Orr said that she can’t wait to get back to training with her fellow teammates.
“We took the last two months off from training with the team,” she said. “I’m on a five-girl team and we were really looking forward to working together. With the social distancing and stay at home orders, we haven’t been paddling together. We’ve been going out by ourselves. I’m really looking forward to us coming together as a team again and getting back out there.”
“Our goal is to be in the top 15 and to be the first women’s team to finish,” she added. “That’s our mindset and then of course we also want to make a lot of new memories with our friends and have a great time on the river.”