Texas Water Safari

Jon Schoepflin, of Austin, and Drew Dylla, of Poth, were the last competitors to cross the finish line, Wednesday morning on the final day of the Texas Water Safari. (Jared Van Epps/Wave photo)

The 2019 Texas Water Safari came to an end last Thursday with the final boat arriving before the 100th hour.

Billed as “The World’s Toughest Canoe Race” on the TWS website, the Safari is an annual 260-mile race, “from Aquarena Springs in the college town of San Marcos to the shrimping village of Seadrift on the Texas coastline.”

Drew Dylla, of Poth, and Jon Schoepflin, of Austin, of team Serendipitous, was the last team to cross the finish line around 10:30 last Thursday morning, according to the official TWS Facebook page.

Dylla and Schoepflin described their experience as extraordinary, and Dylla added that it took longer than expected to complete the race.

“It kind of adds a whole new level of value,” Dylla said. “We’re super appreciative that we made it to the end.”

Dylla has been participating in the Safari with Schoepflin since 2017, and he added that Schoepflin is a TWS veteran since his first Safari in 1997.

Both faced adversity in this year’s race. Tuesday night, Dylla said they came out of the mouth of the bay, and it was dark, and their flashlights were beginning to die.

One of the paths that they took was overgrown, Dylla said, and he added they spent two hours trying to get through the river. were several miles to go,” Dylla said.

Dylla added they were forced to turn around and traveled 20 extra miles by doing that. He added they were super cold and paddled through the storms early Tuesday.

“We popped up Jon’s bivvys (bivouac sacks or tents) and tied the boat to the only tree that we can find near the bay and passed out,” Dylla said. “We can hear clouds of mosquitoes around us, but they couldn’t get into our bivvys.”

Schoepflin said this year’s TWS was one of his favorites of all time, even though it took a long time to get to the finish line.

During the second to last day, last Tuesday morning, several paddlers crossed the finish line in time to place in the top 100.

Karl Monney, of Boerne, his brother Shilo Monney, of Victoria, and cousin Chad Monney, of Victoria, finished 21st in the unlimited class under the team name Mad Monney.

Monney said traveling from San Marcos to Seadrift for the TWS was exhausting and exhilarating.

Monney added the most difficult part of the Safari was paddling through the night, and keeping his mind focused on the goal.

“When it was difficult to see, and difficult to identify the risks, staying focused on the goal was tough,” Monney said.

This was Monney’s and his team’s first time competing in the TWS, and he said they’ll do it again next year.

The Safari also had solo participants arrive at the finish line last Tuesday, particularly Lisa Rivera, of Austin, who finished fifth in the solo-unlimited women’s class.

Rivera described her journey down from San Marcos to Seadrift as being “invigorating, challenging, and all around emotional.”

Rivera added there was a lot of “internal battles” paddling by herself and handling “every situation you’re going into.”

“I am exhausted and excited, and I just want to take a shower,” Rivera said.

Winners - Classes of the 2019 Texas Water Safari:

--Team Skid Row - Unlimited

--True Blue - Tandem Unlimited

--Kyle Mynar - Men’s Solo Unlimited

--Team Night Witches - Women’s Unlimited

--Jeff Glock and Brian Jones - USCA C-2

--Team Crossbow - Standard

--Salli O’Donnell - Women’s Solo Unlimited

--Barry Tse and Steven Dawson - Aluminum

--Travis Crow - USCA C-1

--Team High Ho Silver - Novice