Time for a Texas Water Safari reality check.
We’re a month out, and honestly, I’m freaking out.
After racing the 35-mile Texas River Marathon on Saturday (finished middle of the pack), teammate Debbie Richardson and I explored the cuts and sloughs around Alligator Lake on Sunday, trying to plot a course for the big 260-mile race from San Marcos to Seadrift. (Thanks to Spencer Fuller, who filled a seat in our three-human boat, and to Joel Truitt, who helped us scout.)
For those who’ve never wallowed in channels of waist-deep, coffee-colored water, the cuts are hard to describe. You can get lost in a sea of spiders, mud, and low-hanging branches back there. And there are snakes and alligators.
Plus, it was hot. We sweated. It was windy. It will be hotter and sweatier and windier in a month, during the actual Safari.
We tramped through weeds, brushed against poison ivy, and startled monster alligator gar, which swirled just below the brown surface of the river. Once, Richardson batted me gently with her paddle to dislodge the gangly-legged spiders hitching a ride on my head. I brushed caterpillars off Fuller’s back. The mud nearly slurped the shoes off my feet. And at one point, we had to hoist our boat over a slippery log blocking the channel.
If water levels drop between now and the race – and they likely will – we may have to bypass the cuts and drag our boat 2 miles down a Jeep trail. That will suck, possibly even worse than feeding it through miles of slough choked by logs, snakes, and the occasional alligator.
And I’ve got more to look forward to: Trench foot caused by marinating my tootsies in tepid water for two days straight. Trying to pee into a female urinal in a moving boat. Eating smushed energy bars, soggy potato chips and cold mashed potatoes. A painful rash on my ass. Poison ivy. A weird sun tan. A choppy bay that might eat our boat alive.
I did the race as part of a three-woman team in 2019. Someone remind me why I signed up again…