Have you ever heard of the TEVIS CUP?

Yesterday we talked about Polo and so, since we were on the subject of horses, I thought we would continue today with this article about another extreme sport – long distance, endurance rides.

On 1st August, 2009 you can participate in this event if you want to. That is, if you’re a horse-rider, and if you have a horse which has the stamina to compete in a One-hundred mile, One-day trail ride. This is extreme sport and an extreme partnership or rolled into one.

The Tevis Cup is the originator of all long distance endurance horserides in America and is one of the oldest ultra trail events in the world. It is certainly one of the most challenging.

In 1955, the late Wendell T. Robie with 5 other horsemen set out to prove that horses could still cover 100 miles in one day. He subsequently founded the Western States Trail Ride.

Since 1979, the Run has reached its full entrance quota and draws athletes from across the nation and around the world.

The Tevis Cup, otherwise known as the Western States Endurance Run, starts at Squaw Valley, California and ends 100 miles away at Auburn, California.

The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.

The Race starts at 5:15 a.m. at Robie Equestrian Park near the town of Truckee on 1st August, and ends at 5:15 a.m. the following day, near the fairgrounds in Auburn. There are mandatory 60-minute rest stops and veterinarian checks at Robinson Flat (30 milepost) and Foresthill (70 milepost). This promo video from Artephion gives you an idea of what the horse and riders can expect in this challenging race.

The ride is always scheduled on the Saturday in July or early August that is closest to the full moon (August 6, 2009), because riders have to ride all day and all night. This way, the nearly full moon (85% luminosity) will rise at 5:40 p.m. and be high in the sky well before sunset at 8:15 p.m.- all the best for the horses to see the trail. The moon transit (directly overhead) will occur at 10:14 p..m. with the winning horses expected at about 11 p.m. in Auburn.

Each rider who completes the 100-mile course within the 24-hour limit and whose mount is judged “fit to continue” is awarded a silver Completion Award Buckle. The ride is sanctioned by AERC, the American Endurance Ride Conference.

A good place for the public to watch the ride is at Foresthill on Saturday afternoon, and at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Auburn on late Saturday evening.

Here’s an interesting bit of historical trivia – of the Tevis Cup winning horses: 71% have been geldings, 22% mares, and 7% stallions.

And another: The 2006 Tevis Cup winner (first-place finisher at 10:23 PM) was John Crandell of Virginia, who rode an 8-year old Arabian gelding named “Heraldic.” The next morning, a team of veterinarians judged the top ten horses for condition, and Heraldic also won the coveted Haggin Cup for “best condition,” thus achieving a rare double-trophy status.

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