Monday, August 6, 2012

Tevis 2012

What a ride! Crewing for Tevis is certainly a mighty job, but really, one of patience. Driving, unloading, waiting...helping! feeding! Then loading, driving, unloading, waiting, again and again. Caveat: I was not a very good chronicler of the event, when I'm busy I don't seem to think about the camera, only when things finally calmed down, and were too boring to take photos of!

I was part of crew for Team Stalley. Pam Stalley has (I think, my brain is too tired to look it up right now) 12 buckles, her daughters Jennifer and Alyssa have multiples as well. They know what they're doing! They know how to train, they have it down pretty well. The crew binder spelled it all out. I loaded some of their stuff on Wednesday night, and was set to met them at Robinson. I also briefly met with GoPony on Wednesday and talked horses and boots, which was fun but is all a blur and seems like ages ago!
Tevis morning sunrise

Saturday morning we (I had recruited my SO too, ha, he can't escape!) got to Robinson and half the crew was already there (they had rider food and stuff, we had mostly horse stuff). Unload quickly, three minutes only then back down the hill!

2 crew carts, 2 extra saddles, coolers, everything but the kitchen sink

The canyons. Up then down. Repeat. Repeat again. Wow.

And waited for my first rider. I got to see the first riders come in. The horses looked good, but no one looked fresh. Everyone was coated with dust, and water was liberally dumped on everyone. Then my rider Alyssa! Mad dash: water, food, untack, change clothes, take care of horse, take care of rider, retack, get her back on the trail. Wow, breathe. And wait for our next riders. Damn, we got word that Pam was pulled at Red Star. But still waiting for Jennifer. Here she comes! Repeat all craziness from before, this time when she leaves repack everything for Foresthill, get back in the truck and go!

you get used to this view

Regroup at Foresthill, where some stay, and we go to Michigan Bluff. This is where the horses come out of the canyons, and can be really hot. So we brought ice and water to cool them, and their riders, down. The next check is Chicken Hawk which is very close, but our riders like to have someone here.

And wait. No cell service, and the Tevis webcast is great, but behind by about an hour. The horses coming through look great, these are the top 25. And here comes Alyssa! Water horse, switch out her electrolyte bottles, head back on the trail. And wait for Jennifer, who is at least an hour behind her. And wait. And check with the webcast. And finally find out she was pulled at Last Chance.

Damn. Two down, one left. Back to Foresthill. Where we just missed Alyssa leaving, hopefully to see her at Auburn. Pack up, back down to Auburn. When the rain starts. And some lightning. Oh boy. It's about 10, we expect Alyssa who was 25th at Robinson and 17th at Foresthill, and who seems to be moving up the rankings,  to be at No Hands somewhere around midnight. We have a little time, which is nice. I run home and take a quick shower and get some Old Town Pizza (best pizza ever: Gunfighters Pesto). And over to the Auburn fairgrounds, where the first riders are coming in. And it is Garrett and Lisa Ford, hand in hand. And soon after come Kevin Myers and Rusty Toth, who canter through the stadium. After 100 miles!

the Ford's, (crappy phone photo, more bad photos to come)

As an aside: The official finish is actually out on the trail, about 10 minutes walk away. Many of the riders get off after the finish, walk their horses to the stadium, then get back on for the victory lap. You have to go once around the stadium to officially complete the ride.

And then head down to No Hands, where is is raining lightly, but the lightning storm seems to be past. It is pitch black, the moon is hidden by clouds. On the switchbacks above there are a few glowsticks, but the bridge itself is just a black hole. A few minutes after midnight we hear a horse, and Jennifer Stalley calls out to her sister, and get a response. It's Alyssa, now in 10th place! We see glowsticks and not much else, they throw water on the horse, and it's back up to the stadium.

Where we wait, but we know she's coming. But Mark Schuerman was right behind her. Who will come in first? It is "only" four miles from the bridge to the finish. I've ridden it many times, and it is not easy, even after a short ride. It is uphill almost the whole way, and they've just done 96 miles. So we wait. And here she comes, in 10th place, wow!

Alyssa Stalley and Toby, 10th place Tevis 2012

They had different crew for after care, so we congratulated her and made sure everything was OK with the pulled horses (a metabolic who was getting better, a slight lameness to be reevaluated later) and then went home to crash for a few hours.

Alyssa Stalley and Toby, BC judging

We were back at the fairground for Best Condition judging, which was awesome. The horses look like they hadn't done anything. All the horses looked good, I don't know how I could judge. Alyssa's horse, who is also known as Raptor when he's full of himself, dragged her around the stadium. I don't think she was much in contention, because the top four riders finished more than three hours before her, and that is all taken into consideration.

left to right: Scripps Cup for Junior riders, Tevis Cup and Haggin Cup.

We helped out before the awards presentation, placing the buckles with the certificates. This year the ride director's of Tevis did a new thing: Legacy buckles. First time finishers could receive a buckle donated by a past rider. They were inscribed with the past riders name and year they won that buckle. How cool is that! All the riders get a certificate and come across the stage. Then they give out the trophies, and with bated breath everyone awaited the Haggin Cup.

And the winner was the fourth place horse, Farrabba (Stoner), ridden by Rusty Toth, who gave a very moving speech. While Stoner ate the oats out of the trophy.

Haggin Cup winner Stoner, cup held by Ride Director Chuck Stalley

Seriously quite an adventure. I can now relax a bit. And I was just crew, I can't imagine how tired the riders and horses are. Watching the riders come in, seeing the pull list growing, all the crews, volunteers: what a mammoth undertaking. I was glad to be a part of it, but riding it? I don't have that desire yet. I do have two endurance friends who rode sweep, each group riding set portions of the trail for people who need help. That sounds like fun and something I might do next year. Or crew again. Or volunteer. Being part of Tevis is really quite memorable.

P.S. For a good read, go read Redhead Endurance's blog. She actually took good pictures of her rider and horse, a really good documentation of crewing.

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