‘World’s Toughest Canoe Race’ starts in San Marcos

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – It’s referred to as “The World’s Toughest Canoe Race,” but its official name is “The Texas Water Safari,” a 260-mile canoe race that starts in San Marcos and ends on the Texas coast.

On Saturday, dozens of canoes gathered in Spring Lake for the start of the race. From there, they traveled down the San Marcos heading towards the final destination of Sea Drift, Texas which is near Port O’Connor.

KXAN caught up with the “Limestone Cowgirls,” a veteran group of racers who know the ins and outs of the race.

“So I have competed 10 times,” said Virginia Parker, who is competing in the race. “The mental and physical preparedness is 90 percent of the race.”

Racers face a number of challenges while traversing the hundreds of miles.

“Lots of dam portages, rushing water and you want to know what obstacles to avoid,” Parker said.

Racers will have to deal with hot conditions and also wildlife.

“You have the rattlesnakes and the water moccasins, the alligators and the mosquitos,” said Shannon Issendorf, who will be in the same boat as Parker.

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Issendorf said having a veteran crew can make a big difference in how well you do.

“The ladies that I am with actually hold a lot of the women’s records for placement and finish-wise,” Issendorf said.

The all-women team said preparing for every situation is key for safety and timing, like when it comes to crossing dams.

“We will slide it over the top and one of the people will be at the bottom and grab the front,” Issendorf said.

Racers have 100 hours to finish the race, but the Limestone Cowgirls plan to finish much sooner.

“In our boat, we don’t plan to nap,” Parker said. “We plan to be ahead of the 48-hour mark.”

Parker said the final stretch can be challenging as canoes have to cross a large bay.

The first race was held in 1963.

More on the race and the route here.

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