USANA’s Phil Bowden Completes ‘Hardest Race Ever’

Tim Haran Associates, USANA Leave a Comment

For anyone else and under any other circumstances, a top-10 finish in the “World’s Toughest Boat Race” would be cause for celebration.

For Phil Bowden, a 30-year veteran of ultra-marathon canoe racing, finishing 10th out of nearly 100 boats at this month’s Texas Water Safari proved to be somewhat of a disappointment.

Of course, considering all that happened during the final hours of the 260-mile test of skill, stamina, and determination, simply surviving to tell the tale is remarkable.

“Thirty-nine hours into the race we had a guy jump out of the boat, grab the side of it and turn it over five miles from the finish,” Phil says, explaining that fatigue might have gotten the best of a teammate. “Now we’re in the Gulf of Mexico where the wind is blowing against you and the waves are crashing. Basically, after nearly two straight days paddling, we had to float with a sunken boat for eight hours with no food or water in the middle of the night.”

Until that happened the five-man team sat comfortably in sixth place.

Photos: Gwen Burnell
At the finish line, Good Samaritans and crews help take the boat out of the water.

But not long after the crew plunged into the bay, a paddler passed out, the boat overturned, and the team reached for the emergency flares. Problem was, exhaustion coupled with darkness and crashing waves prevented any of the boaters from figuring out how to set them off.

“I’m glad I was too stupid to shoot the flare,” Phil says with a laugh. “That would have disqualified us.”

The Big Finish
Eventually the team reached the finish line and Phil, who subsisted primarily on water, USANA Nutrimeal, Nutrition Bars, and Rev3 Surge, completed his 28th Texas Water Safari.

“We didn’t finish well but for me personally I had probably one of my finest performances ever,” Phil says, adding that he’s definitely got people asking him how he did it. “It was the hardest race ever, without question, and I made it; I came through thanks to USANA.”

Photo: Gwen Burnell
Tom Goynes, a USANA Associate and product user who has muscular dystrophy, provides Phil with words of encouragement following the race. Phil says, “Tom is considered the guru of ultra-marathon paddling. He won the Safari in 1971, 1972, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1983, and 1985, as well as numerous class wins into the 90s. He invented the basic methodology we all use today.”

Seeing the Difference
As for Gwen Burnell, a USANA Ruby Director and part of Phil’s bank crew, she saw first-hand the importance of proper nutrition under trying circumstances. Though she didn’t compete, Gwen still needed to stay alert and energized for upward of 60 hours before and during the grueling race. She functioned on low-glycemic meals, a decision she is certain helped her throughout the three-day event.

“I didn’t think you could raise my belief in USANA products,” she says. “But then I saw how Phil performed with his MyHealthPak and other USANA products. For me, I would mix my Nutrimeal, grab a Nutrition Bar, and of course, drink Rev3. I saw what other people were eating and drinking to be honest it was rough for many of them at the end. I really saw the difference USANA made for me.”

Photo: Ian DeVoglaer

Here is a great video the Victoria Advocate put together about the 2010 Texas Water Safari.

Congratulations to Phil and the entire team on a remarkable accomplishment. If you’re interested in reading more about the event, check out these blog posts. And don’t forget to visit USANA Athletes to stay in the loop. Special thanks to Gwen Burnell, Ian DeVoglaer, and Pam Smart for the photos.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *