Texas Water Safari Spotlight: John Mark Harras

By Conor Yarbrough
News Director

Photo by Conor Yarbrough

The Texas Water Safari attracts a special breed of person to it’s intimidating allure. Every summer at Spring Lake in San Marcos, a small group of individuals gather in the heart of the southwest for what is hailed as the most brutal canoe race in the world. For 54 years now, the Safari has been a staple of extreme sports in San Marcos. Each summer, a hundred or more teams make their way to San Marcos from all over the country and beyond to partake in the grueling 260 mile race to the coast. Stories of aggressive rapids, scaling the walls of dams, wild alligators in the gulf and hallucinations are all realities teams must recognize and respect upon signing up but for some, the magnitude of these stories becoming their own reality doesn’t set in until the comfort of central Texas is long behind them.

Photo by Conor Yarbrough

“As a former athlete, I’m naturally curious about what goes through the heads of the athletes when they’re competing and what their philosophy towards sport is.”

“An athlete without philosophy is merely a competitor”

Before the pre­-race hoopla became erratic as teams navigated their boats to the starting point, I caught up with Coxswain, John Mark Harras. Harras is a member of the cowboys boat crew, one of the very few teams that made it to the finish line in under 40 hours, an unbelievable feat in of itself. Take a listen:

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