Texas Water Safari Part 10 - Post race
Once on shore I am all smiles. I try not to show my leg is killing me and proceed as normal. I think just the people's support at the finish line was enough to make me forget a little about it. I get the board on shore and for some reason I am worried about taking the fin off the bottom before I stop to take it all in. Michael keeps yelling at me to forget the fin and just relax. I take it off anyway.
I don't even really think of what I just accomplished until the next day. This night I just am happy to be amongst friends I've met along the river. I was able to meet and enjoy so much of the Texas paddling community. The paddlers, the crew, the people that heard about the stand up guy that came out just to see him. Some who stayed out late (4am) just to see me in to the finish. People like Robert Youens that was there to see me in. Also West Hansen that was there, who had helped me through alot of emails with pre-race planning prior to the race. People that I look forward to seeing again hopefully at the 51st TWS. People that just wanted to shake my hand and say, " man that is unbelieveable what you just did." People like Zoltan Mraz and his crew. I take the feeling in and just enjoy it.
Zoltan finishes his 12th TWS out of 22 attempts!
Morning shows up. This time I'm not paddling through the night.
Seadrift, TX The finish
Michael and I just hang out a little bit and put the board out by other boats. We stay until the sun comes up, then decide it's time to get some sleep. Then I get the awesome news from Michael that he went to our hotel at 2am and they gave away our reservation because they thought we weren't coming. So the hunt for a place to crash begins. It ends shortly after we talk with Robert Youens and he says there are hotel rooms in walking distance that the TWS rented that are for showering up post race and that we are welcome to crash there. Greatly appreciated, we take him up on a shower and some sleep. 6:30am I finally hit the sheets in a bed after 4 nights of sleeping on the ground. I'm out to sleep, fast. Until I wake up at 8:30am to Michael and another gentleman screaming at each other outside the hotel door. I get up and walk over, half alive, and ask what's going on. They both become quiet and I'm left confused. I walk back in the room to Michael's explaination. They were telling Michael we didn't have permission to be sleeping in the room. Michael tried to explain we did. Then the yelling. Then the half alive me walks over.. yada yada.
We gather our stuff and go to leave. Within 10 minutes Michael and the guys are apologizing to each other and shaking hands, even hugging. Apparently the 2 guys outside the hotel room had a rough TWS. They both DNF'd (did not finish). They were racing to raise funds for vets and were upset they didn't make it to the end.
No worries. Who needs sleep at this point. We leave and go towards the finish line area again.
The awards ceremony is getting ready to take place in a few hours and we make our way over to mingle. I talk to an old timer that raced the TWS back in the 70's. Bucky shows me a scrap book from back in the day when he used to build canoes to race. They are crazy looking. He proudly tells me his number of finishes. Yet he also includes the number of times he did not finish. It's an amazing conversation we have for about 20 minutes.
I get to talk to a lady who asks me about the story of my kidney transplant which I explain. In this conversation, this is where I learn that our fallen brother, Brad Ellis, was able to donate multiple organs upon his leaving us. Amazing! His thoughtfulness is something most people never think about. All it takes to become an organ donor is to go to the dmv or online and update your license.
Joy (who I later learn is a heck of a paddler herself) asks if it's ok to relate my story in conjunction with her speaking on Brad and the collection they are taking up for his family. I whole heartedly agree.
Joy Emshoff (left) with Ginsie Stauss make a donation box for Brad Ellis' services
I meet a host of others that want to hear my story, but all I want to do is hear their story and how they are involved with the TWS. I see alot of people that I spent time with at the checkpoints. I see the Garcia family at breakfast at a local diner. Allie gives me a cool bracelet that matches my race colors. Just all around good people.
Allie Garcia and friend Daniel on the far left.
Becky Garcia with the blue shirt and to her left Don Garcia who paddled
with Team Cuatro Sinko.
After a morning of story swapping and talking to just open and friendly people, the awards ceremony begins. They hand out plaques to all finishers. Being the 50th anniversary, it's a huge deal. For a race to exist this long and to have people year after year come back is amazing.
What you see on the back of my Jeep!
After a few other people are called up, they come to me. As I walk up to hear the folks clapping and cheering, it's overwhelming. I'm honored that they've included me in this race. I truely feel accepted within the Texas paddling community. People are genuinely happy for me to be there on that stage. To be out on the course that so many of them have been on, they know what it took for me to get to this point to be able to consider myself a TWS finisher. I later am told there are only about 221 solo finishers in the TWS 50 year history. I'm told I'm the 220th
The things I received on this stage: 50 year race anniversary award, TWS patches, a hearty handshake, an amazing applause, Respect from the texas paddling community, and most of all, belonging.
Befor eleaving the stage, I'm goated into saying something. I'm so in the moment of where I'm at that I can't even think of what to say on the mic. Here's what comes out: http://telly.com/GGHWI
The rest of the day is just hanging out and enjoying being on land amongst friends. Michael takes the board out and has some fun in the bay. He even gives some lessons to a couple teens wanting to get out on the board. I watch as the parents on land are all smiles watching their kids have fun. That's what it's all about for me. People enjoying the sport.
People like Debbie Richardson, who placed 1st in women's solo. Post race she's been a huge help.
Lindsay Stillman. Who's making a short documentary of my Texas Water Safari experience. Out soon... Plus she's fundraising to get me back down to the CR100 race in Texas.
And there a bunch more people. Like Cindy Meurer who's letting me stay at her house for the CR100.
I just am amazed by the generosity of eveyone. My TWS experience has been like none other. There are loads of people to thank and I apologize if I don't get everyone. There are a few key players that I want to mention here:
First and foremost: My wife. She is the one who's home with my son Luke (2.5 yrs) and daughter Tessa (3 months) while I do all this crazy stuff. Through my training and racing, she's the rock at home. Also alot of credit to my mother in-law Patty. She's a huge help too.
The crew for the TWS. Michael Rokos and Joe Baisa. Without them, there was no TWS. They came through in a huge way with crew support. Great guys.
The Pau Hana guys. Owners Todd Caranto and Royce Hanamaikai for being the first SUP company to believe in me and back me. The 14' Pau Hana Crossfit is insane. Super fast and sleek.
Maui Jim. For their awesome shades. I rocked the Lagoon style shades for the TWS
Werner Paddles. The Werner Grand Prix Bent Shaft is the Paddle that got me throught the race
Surfco Hawaii. Everything on my board was held down by Surfco's EZ Plug system. I also used a 7" and 9" proteck rubber fin throught the race.
SlickSup. It's a co-polymer wax coating I use on all my boards. It reduces drag and creates a slickness to the board. Great product
Now the fun begins. The season is winding down. I just finished the Mr 340 a couple weeks ago (340 miles). I have the Cr100 in a few weeks. Then the planning season starts. I'm looking at some new races for next year. Longer distances and some expeditions. I have to work on sponsors and strategies. So there really is no down time for me. why do I do it? For the love of the sport!
If anyone ever wants to contact me for any reason please do. firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll do my best to return all emails within 2 days.
And If you're in the St. Louis are, check out http://www.supstlouis.com/
It's my SUP business. Lesson, rentals, and sales available.
And to leave you with a little race humor:
Michael, I think it's too late for the this TWS racer