I was invited yesterday to paddle 15 miles on the San Marcos River from my Brother-in-Law, Tim Curry. Tim is a seasoned canoe paddler and racer. He and his friend, Zach Peltier, won First Place in the 2017 Masters Division of the Texas Water Safari, an annual 256 mile paddle endurance race that starts in San Marcos at Aquarena Springs and ends in Seadrift, Texas on San Antonio Bay. This race runs from the Headwaters of the San Marcos River and then joins the Guadalupe river all the way until the mouth hits the bay. Here's more info about the water safari
Since our journey was "only" 15 miles we stayed entirely on the San Marcos River. My friend and fellow SUP racer, Marshall Brown, came along for the ride. Marshall was the First Place Winner of the 2017 Sugar Land SUP Sprint at Brooks Lake. Marshall and I met up at 5AM in Houston, loaded Marshall's 14 foot KM Race Board on the back of our trailer along with my 11'6 Riviera Classic. We hit I-10 and drove for 2 hours and 20 minutes west to San Marcos. There was a little fog in the air that morning, and the air was a bit chilly early on ,but by the time we arrived at Rio Vista Park the fog had burned off and the sun began to shine.We met with Tim and the officials, ate a few tacos, and got into our racing clothes. We unloaded our boards, paddles, PFD's and Camel Backs then checked in with the race officials. We created a shuttle and left my truck and trailer at the end of the race at Staples Bridge 15 miles downriver from Rio Vista Park. I got a ride back with a guy named Mike to the starting point.
Marshall and I got a head start along with a kayaker. They handicapped us for our craft and staggard the start times for the other boats. We paddled up river to the pedestrian bridge and back to the spillway dam to start the race. We decided to portage the rapids at the "Shoot" due to the shallow water and rocks. We put in right at the bridge and began our paddle. I kept up pretty well with Marshall and the Kayaker until right after the second portage when I got snagged on either a rock or a tree stump. I never caught back up with them after that. A few snags later and my fin had enough and broke off. I probably paddled 10 miles on a broken fin and it made for a slow journey. I managed to see everyone paddle along and pass me about 90 minutes after I started paddling. Aside from running over rocks, dinging my board, and breaking my fin I had a good time. I did get to see a lot of cool sites on the way and the technical paddling through the rapids was fun. Not having a fin probably helped in some sections. I think next time I'll look into a shorter more flexible fin.
I finished dead last, but by then everyone was drinking beer, eating pizza, and happy to see me. Marshall finished about 3 hours and 30 minutes. I finished about 4 hours and 10 minutes. He broke his fin box on a snag too.
All and all it was fun. It's a very technical paddle with lots of obstacles. I slept 12 hours straight that night after the paddle. That's definitely the most time and distance I've spent on the water SUP'ing. My feet went numb a few times. Marshall said he was able to avoid numb foot by moving around a little bit here and there. I'd like to try this race again with a different fin set up and I'd also like to try it with an inflatable for comparison. That will probably be the next blog I post about paddling the San Marcos.
I'll leave with a peaceful view towards the end of the race. Until next time.