Dear Texas Water Safari Community,
We wrapped up another great race in June! Out of 161 entries, 93 finished. We successfully and safely managed a record 12 bay rescues and for the first time since 1987, we had a two-man team win the Texas Water Safari. All in all, it was a great running of the 60th Texas Water Safari!
The Texas Water Safari (TWS), a nonprofit 501C3, is important to all of us and is overseen by only volunteers. To keep the TWS going strong for years to come the TWS board has approved a number of changes for 2024. The TWS board’s goal is to keep the race strong financially and competitive for years to come.
We know these 2024 changes will be difficult for some, but they reflect our changing world. Our goal is to be transparent and explain why we are enacting some of these changes. So, please read carefully through the rule changes and updates.
RACE DATES FOR 2024
TEXAS RIVER MARATHON- CUTOFF TIMES
A new cut off deadline has been added for the Texas River Marathon. The cut off at Nursery is 1:00 PM (Saturday). An additional cutoff deadline is 4:00 PM (Saturday) at Victoria City Park boat ramp. The finish line cutoff is 5:00 PM (Saturday) at the Pumphouse Restaurant in Victoria City Park. If you do not finish by 5:00 PM and are entered in Safari, you will lose your starting position in the TWS. You can still race the TWS, but your starting position will be moved back to one of the last starting rows.
CALHOUN’S GATOR RACE- CUTOFF TIMES AND CLASSES
The Calhoun’s Gator Chase
, a new canoe race to be held on May 5th, will give teams opportunities to see the jams and Safari racecourse. Entry fee is $40 per person. Race day registration ONLY. All entries will get an alligator tooth key chain. We will also serve lunch for racers when they finish. There will be no official awards ceremony. We understand teams need to get home so awards will be handed out when you finish.
Awards will be given out to 1st to 5th place in all classes. All finishers will also receive a 5×7 wooden plaque with artwork of an alligator and the name of the race. The cutoff time to finish is 2:00 PM.
TEXAS WATER SAFARI -CHANGES TO CHECKPOINT CUTOFF TIMES
The TWS board has changed 5 cutoff times for 5 checkpoints (Staples, Palmetto, Hochheim, Cuero 236, Calhoun’s RV Park). The changes are denoted below.
|Staples||2:00 PM SATURDAY||NEW|
|Luling Hwy 90||8:00 PM SATURDAY||SAME|
|Palmetto||6:00 AM SUNDAY||NEW|
|Gonzales Dam||2:00 PM SUNDAY||SAME|
|Hochheim||4:00 AM MONDAY||NEW|
|Cheapside (766)||11:00 AM MONDAY||SAME|
|Cuero 236||3:00 PM MONDAY||NEW|
|Victoria City Park||6:00 AM TUESDAY||SAME|
|Swinging Bridge||4:00 PM TUESDAY||SAME|
|Calhoun’s RV Park||3:00 AM WEDNESDAY||NEW|
|Swan Point – Bill Sanders Park||1:00 PM WEDNESDAY||SAME|
All TWS sponsored races have cutoff times. Racers who do not make a cutoff time in a TWS sponsored race are required to pull out at the cutoff checkpoint. It’s the responsibility of the Team Captain to assist them from the river. Teams are not allowed to continue if they do not make a cutoff. If the team continues it will be banned from participating in future TWS sponsored races.
FEEDING/SLEEPING STATIONS FOR THE TWS
To facilitate better monitoring of racers, the TWS board is creating feeding/sleeping stations at the following checkpoints: Luling Hwy 90, Cheapside (766), Cuero 236, Victoria City Park, and Swinging Bridge. If a team decides to sleep or eat or rest for a period of time, we will have designated areas at those checkpoints. If you still want to eat while getting water and cooling off at a checkpoint by your boat, that is legal, but you need to be within 20 feet of your boat. If you are going to sleep, you need to be in the designated area. If you want to take on water and food and keep paddling that is still legal. The feeding/sleeping areas will be clearly marked at the checkpoints.
ENTRY FEE INCREASES FOR CANOE RACES
The goal of the TWS board is to have both the TWS, Texas River Marathon and any other races operate without relying on any sponsors/donors who cannot always be counted upon to cover the additional costs of the race. The last two years since Covid, inflation and supply chain issues have triggered a substantial increase in expenses. The TWS also needs to budget in the price increases for unexpected expenses such as legal fees, trademark protection, insurance, website design, a new tracking system for racers, race postponements, etc. The last time the Texas Water Safari had an entry fee increase was in 2018. The following information shows that the current entry fees do not cover the cost of the Texas River Marathon.
FINANCIAL HISTORY OF THE TEXAS RIVER MARATHON
Year Entry Fees Cost to Operate Race Gain/Loss
2018 $7,600 $9,628 ($2,028) Loss
2019 $13,218 $15,544 ($2,326) Loss
2020 Canceled due to Covid ($415) Loss
2021 $11,732 $10,786 $946 Gain
2022 $10,365 $12,753 ($2,388) Loss
2023 $11,025 $12,715 ($1,690) Loss
RISING COST OF EXPENSES OF HOSTING THE TWS
Expenses have risen over the last 6 years to operate the race. Some years we have had a onetime unexpected expense. For example, the Spot tracking system cost the TWS $1,968.44 in 2023. In 2022 the Spot tracking system increased to $4,759 when we upgraded the system and purchased additional Spots for the race. The Spot expense/cost returned in 2023 to its normal operation level. The chart below highlights some of the expenses.
FINANCIAL HISTORY THE TEXAS WATER SAFARI
Like the Texas River Marathon, if it were not for sponsors and donors the Texas Water Safari would have lost money the last 6 years. See the table below:
Year Entry Fee Cost to Operate Race Gain/Loss
2018 $59,930 $75,203 ($15,273) Loss
2019 $69,611 $79,143 ($9,532) Loss
2020 Canceled due to Covid ($6,101) Loss
2021 $60,048 $77,909 ($12,861) Loss
2022 $59,883 $98,046 ($38,163) Loss
2023 $68,847 $97,040 ($28,193) Loss
As the table above clearly shows, we need to increase our fees for the race to remain solvent. So, the Texas Water Safari will have an increase in the 2024 entry fees, as follows: Early entry of $175 is increasing to $250, 2nd deadline entry fee of $200 is increasing to $300, 3rd and final entry fee of $250 is increasing to $350. All junior paddlers (13-17 years) will pay ½ the going rate depending upon the date of entry.
A COMPARISON OF THE ENTRY FEES OF OTHER MARATHON EVENTS
When considering the price increase for the TWS, the board looked at other races held locally and around the U.S. to compare what they charged per person for an entry fee. The TWS is a 5-day race, with one day for registration for a total of 6 days. Some of the races below have paid staff, the TWS-sponsored races are run by volunteers.
|Alabama||650 mile race||Cost per participant $500|
|Chattajack||31 mile race||Cost per participant $185|
|Ausable Marathon||120 miles||Cost per participant $250,$350,$450|
|General Clinton||70 miles||Cost per participant $125|
|Boston Marathon||26 miles||Cost per participant $225|
|Austin Marathon||26 miles||Cost per participant $159|
|Kerrville Half Marathon||13 miles||Cost per participant $270|
|Ironman Chattanooga||Cost per participant $870|
|Hawaii Iron Man Championship||Cost per participant $1400 +fees|
|Multi Day Events|
|Wilderness Transverse||Cost per participant $400|
|New Zealand (coast to coast)||Cost per participant $700|
TWS SCHOLARSHIP ENTRY FEE PROGRAM
The Board is also planning a new program to help individuals that wish to enter the TWS but may need financial assistance. A few details are listed below:
NEW SPONSORSHIP LEVELS
Where possible, the TWS board will endeavor to find sponsors to keep the TWS and its other sponsored races financially viable. Please consider being a Texas Water Safari sponsor or Texas River Marathon sponsor. See below the new Safari sponsorship levels:
PLATINUM LEVEL (Unlimited Class): $5,000 – One year ad on TWS t-shirt and website, banner at race, booth at check in and finish; TWS memorabilia.
GOLD LEVEL (Tandem Unlimited): $1,300 – One year ad on TWS t-shirt and website, banner at race, booth at check in and special recognition at TWS race briefing.
SILVER LEVEL (Tandem C-2 Class): $700 – One year ad on TWS t-shirt, TWS website and banner at race.
BRONZE LEVEL (C1 Class): $500 – One year ad on TWS t-shirt and website.
TWS WEBSITE AD: $250 – One year ad on the TWS website.
INDIVIDUAL DONATION – $50 – Free TWS T-shirt
All sponsors that supported the Safari in 2023 will be grandfathered in at the same 2023 sponsorship levels. The dollar amount will remain the same for all 2023 sponsors as long as they continue to sponsor the race annually. The grandfathered levels include: Platinum- $5,000; Gold – $1,000; Silver- $500; Bronze-$300 and Individual Donor- $25
The TWS board appreciates the input and cooperation of all paddlers and volunteers. You make the “World’s Toughest Canoe Race” the best it can be.
TWS Board Members
“They don’t call the Texas Water Safari The World’s Toughest Canoe Race’ for nothing. In addition to the length, the challenges include whitewater rapids, multiple portages, and the relentless, soul-sapping Texas heat. Competitors have four days and four hours to paddle from San Marcos, in the center of the state, to the shy little town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There is no prize money for the winners; just Texas-size bragging rights for the finishers.”
Larry Rice, in July 2009 Canoe & Kayak Magazine
The Texas Water Safari is actually comprised of several events including an information seminar, two short races (one of which can be considered as a preliminary race) and of course, the Safari itself – the 260 mile race to Seadrift from the headwaters of the San Marcos River. The Safari itself, billed as the "World's Toughest Boat Race", is an annual race via the San Marcos and Guadalupe rivers, from Aquarena Springs in the college town of San Marcos, to the shrimping village of Seadrift on the Texas coastline, a total distance of 260 miles. The first official race was held in 1963, and is run annually on the second Saturday of June.
The primary requirement is a boat powered only by human muscle. Racers must take all equipment needed with them, receiving only water, ice and food along the way.