Above photo courtesy Texas Water Safari.
The flag that marked the finish of the Texas Water Safari was flying at half staff Tuesday.
Race officials say 30-year-old Brad Ellis, from Dripping Springs, died Monday at San Antonio Military Medical Center, taking part in the endurance canoe race billed as the "world's toughest."
The Texas Water Safari, which started Saturday, stretches 260 miles from San Marcos to the Gulf of Mexico. A medical emergency was reported early Sunday morning less than 24 hours after the race started.
"I heard that someone wasn’t doing well or had been injured and I just heard that somebody had passed away. It's really sad that that ever happens to anyone, so thoughts and prayers with their family," Participant Scott Meares said.
Race president Allen Spelce said Ellis died of low sodium. They believe he drank water to stay hydrated but failed to replace the sodium he sweated out during the race.
A State Game Warden said Ellis started feeling ill Sunday morning after rowing about 98 miles. He was airlifted from Gonzalez County to San Antonio.
"All of us in the Texas Water Safari family, including his fellow paddlers, are deeply saddened following the death of Brad Ellis due to hyponatremia. This is the first death during the running of the 260-mile canoe race in its 50-year history. The Water Safari participants are a very close knit community and everyone is deeply saddened by the tragedy. We extend our condolences to Brad's family and share in their grief. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who knew and loved Brad. We will notify the paddling community of any funeral arrangements announced by the family."
John Bugee has completed the race more than 30 times. He says there are risks every time you get on the water.
"It could happen anytime on the river,” he said.
Ellis was a frequent poster on TexasBowhunter.com where he detailed his training for the race. He posted a picture just before the race started along with the caption, "Team MotorBoaters reporting for duty! Go time... Last post until we finish."
The site now has a memorial where thousands of people have left tributes.
Ellis’ death is the first in the race's 50 year history.