July 20-21 2013
The Tevis is known as the hardest endurance race in the United States. 100 miles in 24 hours from Tahoe to Auburn.
Last year, I witnessed it as my first introduction to what 'endurance riding' was. After seeing the physical work, heat, and risk I was was hooked. I still probably couldn't tell you why.
|Jennifer and Jenni coming into the check point|
Fast forward to this year and (if you have been reading my blogs) you know my mustang Dixie and I have competed in some AERC events. We began last year when she was 4 with LD (Limited Distance) 25-30 mile rides. 2013 brought on the 50 mile competitions. She has 2 under her belt now.
|Dixie's first 50 mile AERC ride|
When it came time again for the Tevis ride, it was exciting to be asked to crew again for good friends Jennifer Waitte and Jenni Smith. Anthony and I headed to Auburn to help set up camp and prepare for the next 24 hours.
If you followed the race, you would find many exciting stories, including both of our riders:
Jenni Smith's story was featured on Equisearch. Read it here.
Jennifer Waite's story was featured on the EasyCare blog. Read it here.
At this point, you may start to think our riders did fairly well to both be featured on websites (hint hint).
Well, if you are still reading this far then I will tell you they did. But that is not really the story I can share with you. I wasn't out on the trail riding, I was crewing. Along with quite a few other dedicated individuals, we were committed to making our riders and their horses as well fueled and prepared to continue trucking through the wilderness to cross the finish line.
With the help of technology, we were able to follow our riders through the race. Most of the dozen or so check points did not allow crew to be present. So, when they checked in with the vet, they had someone there to record the time they passed through and pass the info along to an app. We all became quite obsessed with the 'refresh' button seeing when and where our riders would show up.
The few check points we were able to be at are always fairly chaotic. People are everywhere trying to find a spot for their rider, set up mini-camp, and then take care of horse and rider. If you are not there early to stake a spot, you are not going to have an easy time finding a spot once the riders come in. The phrase 'hurry up and wait' was a pretty accurate way to describe the event.
Once our riders came in, we started to take the horses saddles off and cooling them down with water. The riders were given food, water, and a chair. It is so important to keep the muscles warm, so the horses don't cramp up. This meant walking the horse every 10 minutes during the 1 hour hold time. We took 2 people so one could walk the other horse while the other held food. Talk about multi tasking. These horses are no rookies. They had already competed in three 75 mile competitions and came in the top every time. They were used to the routine and quietly went along with everything.
As they left, we hooted and hollered to cheer them on along with the rest of the crowd. We cleaned up the mini camp and headed to the next stop. And then back to 'hurry up and wait'.
As darkness crept in, we could see (on our app) that our riders were in the top and that meant they would not be taking the full 24 hours to complete. The race starts at 5am and riders have until 5am the next day to finish.
We waited with the crowd at the finish line. And waited. It was a little after 10pm. All of a sudden everyone started to cheer and make noise, everyone was squinting to see who it could be...
a deer walking on the trail.
It was so exciting, that any little movement sparked people to think the riders were arriving. Finally, first place flew in at a canter. It was Rusty, from EasyCare. We waited a little longer and then saw Jenni and Jennifer coming in together... 2nd and 3rd! We were so thrilled, the horses had gotten separated by 5 minutes at the last vet check, so we all assumed the 2 horse difference may not have been made up.
Seeing the 2 come into together was such a great feeling. The finishing rate for this race is less than 50%!
Now you may think that once the race is over the story ends, but really it was just getting started for us.
Again, we took the saddle off and start cleaning the horses. Since they finished in the top ten, they are eligible for the Haggin Cup (best conditioned award).
This meant cleaning the horses, tack, and you thought because they finished at a decent hour sleep? Nope. In order to keep the horses muscles from getting tight we had to wake up every hour to walk them. Thank goodness it was not every 10 minutes! Fortunately all the dedicated crew worked together, so I only was up every other hour.
|Jenni and Stella showing for the Haggin Cup.|
Like I mentioned, I still don't know why working so hard, being exhausted, sweaty, and tired is so much fun. But it is! The Tevis is once of my favorite experiences. Once it was all over, we headed home buzzing about our exciting weekend. It was hard to believe that it was only 24 hours.
Thanks to Jennifer and Jenni for letting us crew for you. It was an unforgettable experience for everyone!