Sunday January 2 2011
In the early morning, long before you can see any horses and riders, from far across the desert comes the sound of cantering hooves. You can hear this when the wind isn't gusting to 30 mph like the day before, and your teeth aren't chattering loud enough to drown the wind out, while waiting to direct 40 riders in the 50 miler at crossroads.
Ice half an inch thick coated water buckets in camp and water puddles on the trails, ("what is up with this weather!?"), and didn't start to thaw until 10 AM, but the absence of wind made for great conditions for the horses. Some riders were stripped down to 2 layers for their last loop - while I kept three and four on all day, even in the sunshine.
Head vet Stacey Sickler - a vet who plays polo and sews completely severed tendons back together, (resulting in Kevin Myers' horse Far acheiving a (so far) 4-season, 1700+ miles, 29 for 29 record, including Tevis and four other hundreds) - still hadn't quite thawed out from the Friday vet-in's rain, but she kept her hands wrapped around a cup of Starbucks coffee, and she kept a great sense of humor all weekend.
A fast group of 6 horses and riders stuck together through the first 20 miles of loop 1, but it was Sue Summers and Tani Bates who eventually pulled away to win the 50 miler by 13 minutes. "We had to work at it!" Sue said. Tani rode the Summers' 19-year-old "Rosie", (SHA Ebony Rose), an 11-season, 2600-mile horse, one with 17 (!!) best conditions in her 44-start career. Tani and her husband Mark had flown down from Washington. Tani had two other local horses lined up to ride, but because one horse (owned by Clydea Hastie) met a gate he didn't like, and the other horse (owned by Carol Giles) met a cactus he didn't like, Rosie was Tani's only ride over the weekend, but an exciting one it turned out to be.
Sue rode Mags Motivator, a 9-season, 1800+ mile horse, who's finished 31 of his 33 starts, including 8 of 8 100-milers, with 7 first places and 3 Best Conditions.
You couldn't do much better being a Summers endurance horse - the Summers have had some outstanding ones throughout their long-mileage careers (14,000 miles for Dennis, 15,000 for Sue). They do prefer riding fast, but they race the horses sparingly - hence the many years of competition and number of top ten finishes that many of their horses consistently produce. The Summers currently have about half a dozen retired 20+-year-old horses at their home, living the good life.
Pat Murray was another who came from the Pacific Northwest to ride. She rode Clydea Hastie's horse Frozen Assets - a Tevis finisher last year. Clydea and Ashquar's Dream (who finished the Big Horn 100 in 5th in 2010) finished 10th and Pat and Frozen Assets finished 11th. Both ladies sat out the wicked weather on day 1 - not because they are wimps (9600-mile and 12,800-mile riders like Clydea and Pat are not wimps), but because they didn't feel like riding in the wicked weather.
12 of 13 riders finished the 25, with Lawrence Serrano winning on his 12-year-old Thoroughbred Tess. The 6th place finisher was Peter Hommertzheim. Peter (of the healing broken bones) was in some kind of agony after yesterday's finish in the 50, but he still got on his mule Big Kate and rode and finished the 25 today.
Many, many more photos can be seen here!