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Tevis Reflections


Tevis 2001 reflections from Lori Stewart

First a little background. Over the last 25 years, I have started the Tevis 15 times and finished it 13. Seven of my finishes were in the top 5 (two wins). For five of the finishes, I rode a borrowed horse. My two pulls were for minor lameness. I will confess right now my bias – the Western States Trail is bar none the most captivating and beautiful endurance trail in the world. I am awed by the softness of the light at sunrise combined with the bright light of the waning moon, by how quickly the vast array of fragrances that grace the trail begin to fill the air, by the dramatically changing panoramic views, by the variety of sensations assaulting my lungs from dust to extreme heat. I love the changing quality of the earth beneath my horse’s feet and the sounds coming from our passing. For every horse and for every rider the trail’s impact is intensely personal and unique.

It seems to me that given basic adequate preparation to complete, on this ride, both success and failure typically build or dissolve by small fractions not by a singular event. For example:

The list goes on but you get the idea. On such a long...trail over such varied terrain, your percentage of bad breaks vs. good breaks determines your success or failure most of the time. Experienced riders and newbies alike seem to have close to the same odds.

So when the post game analysis runs its course, add all the possible reasons given for a low completion rate to the fractions that may have fallen for or against a rider and horse. It appears for most riders this year; they experienced a few too many bad breaks.

The Western States Trail support team of volunteers is to be commended for:

  1. Ample water tanks below Squaw Peak, at Lyon Ridge, Red Star Ridge, Dusty Corners, Devils Thumb, Deadwood, Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, Nugget Drive?, Francisco’s, the Quarry, and the finish.
  2. Ample smiley, competent volunteers at all the "no crew" vet checks.
  3. More vets at both Dusty corners and Deadwood to cut down on the now famous traffic jams that have prevented many a qualified horse and rider from getting in before cut-offs.
  4. The good quality hay both grass and alfalfa at the remote checks (not always so in the past).
  5. The way many of the natural springs have been transformed into permanent water troughs.
  6. Arranging with Mother Nature for ideal riding weather – complete with a fresh breeze in the canyons.

PS: I didn’t finish this year. Had a lovely ride to Foresthill though.


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