Just before brothers Karl and Shilo Monney left on Friday afternoon for the Texas Water Safari in San Marcos, they got a call from their cousin who was supposed to be joining them.
“He got called into work and the person that was covering his shift can’t cover it,” Karl, 44, of Boerne said. “It looks like our three-man crew is down to a two-man crew.”
Chad Monney, 42, of Victoria, was supposed to join the two brothers in the race they had prepared for during the past year, but in a last minute complication, he had to decide not to participate.
“I was really excited about it because we had talked about it for a year, planning and reading up on what it took to do it and just kind of getting ourselves psyched up for this year,” he said. “I am very excited for them and glad that even though I’m not part of it, that they still continued to say, ‘You know what? We’re committed, and we’re going to do it two-man.’ I take my hat off to those guys.”
The Monney brothers are among more than 350 racers that will compete in the 56th annual Texas Water Safari – a 260-mile canoe race from the headwaters of the San Marcos River to the San Antonio Bay at Seadrift, said Allen Spelce, event president and race director. Racers will start their journey Saturday morning and have until Wednesday afternoon to reach the finish line in Seadrift before the 100-hour deadline.
Some racers have participated for years and aim to win, while others, like the Monney brothers, simply seek the adventure.
“This is our maiden voyage,” said Shilo, 42, who convinced his family to take on the Texas Water Safari. “I’ve seen things online for years, and the people going through Riverside Park and just always thought that would be interesting to do. We’re all in our 40s and not getting any younger, so I thought this is a good idea to do this before I die.”
The Monney boys grew up in Inez and Victoria, where they canoed in the same Boy Scouts of America troop for years before becoming scout leaders later in life. The brothers father, Lynn Monney, and other brother, Gamble Monney, will serve as team captains.
“Being with family – a brother and our team captains, my father and other brother, is what really makes my world turn,” Shilo said.
The Nursery resident said he feels comfortable in the water but has put in hard training for the trip.
“It is making sure we spend time on the river and practice paddling, and we have all spent time in the gym on rowing machines,” he said. “Chad and I practiced weekly, and Carl practiced with another brother up in Boerne.”
Losing one of their teammates last minute will certainly increase the challenge, Karl said.
“What we feel like it is going to hurt the most is the morale,” he said. “Having three people in the boat, we felt like it was going to keep the morale up and having two to paddle while one rested ... We have no choice now that if we want to rest, we have to pull over get the boat tied up and then rest.”
Many factors go into racers ability to reach Seadrift by deadline, said Mary Wilson, a sweep judge for the race who has competed numerous times and has been a volunteer for 20 years.
“It depends on the flow and how well you know the river, too, and how good your paddling skills are,” she said. “We always have folks that don’t scout the river out.”
Karl said he anticipates his lack of river experience will be his biggest challenge.
“Frankly, most of the kayaking and canoeing I’ve done has been lake work, on very stable calm bodies of water,” he said. “This kind of technical work is definitely something I’m not experienced at, so it has been a lot of study but experience is really the only thing that follows that.”
During the past year, the brothers said they have received a lot of advice from longtime participants. Some was comical, like ‘don’t do it,’ or ‘get your life insurance policy in check,’ Karl said. But most of the advice was useful.
“The best piece of advice I got was don’t let your equipment get in the way,” Shilo said. “Just because you don’t have the most expensive gear doesn’t mean that should get in the way of having a good time.”
The Monneys hope to make the trek to Seadrift in time for the awards banquet at noon Tuesday, which will take place a day before the 100-hour deadline at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
But the goal is really just to finish, Karl said.
“Finishing for us is winning,” he said. “This is our first year doing it, and we know we have a lot to learn, but we feel like we’ve had some really, really good, experienced people that have given us a lot of great information and really helped coached us along the way, but finishing is our objective.”