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More on Pan Am organisation

One of the interesting things about the organisation of the vet checks from
my point of view was the fact that while the hold times varied from 15
minutes at the last to one hour at the VC I worked (number 4) the vet checks
were open for progressively longer periods as the ride went on. That is the
window in which the rider had to arrive went like so:
1	1 hr 40 min.	no hold just pulse
2	2 hr 30 min		30 min hold
3	2 hr 20 min		40 min hold
4	4 hr 30 min		60 min hold
5	5 hr 10 min		40 min hold
6	6 hr 50 min		40 min hold
7	7 hr 30 min		30 min hold
8	8 hr 15 min		15 min hold

In all fairness, when I worked hold 4, it seemed to go by really quickly,
but once we'd broken down the set up after the last horse left, I had time
to run (by car of course) to GMHA to glance at hold 5 for about 15 minutes,
then run on to hold 6 where I worked for about an hour or so as an out-timer
again and then briefly as a pulse-scribe. But when I saw how quickly the
front runners were moving, I decided that I'd best get down to VC 8 to help
set up and be ready for them. This was the last VC before the finish only 4
miles away and I'd been warned that the front runners might be a bit testy
at this point. In actual fact, everyone was really nice. But by about 12:30
or so and at temperatures of 42 F (hey! remember I'm used to Egypt!!) that 8
hour open period was LONG! However, it was helped out by hot chili, salad,
bread, a lot of junk food and even coffee. At every VC I saw there was food
and drinks for volunteers. As a matter of fact there was another batch of
volunteers for hospitality who set up at spots along the trail, eight of
them scattered between vet checks with water for horses and riders. At four
of those spots, crew were allowed to assist with electrolytes, water for
horses and riders  and so on. At the other four, hospitality volunteers
could help a rider administer electrolytes or to sponge a horse.

Another very impressive aspect of the ride was the amount of riding up and
down hills the competitors did. In the first 5 miles they climbed 900 ft and
descended 800 ft (that's roughly 300 meters up and 300 meters down in 8 km).
The largest elevation change was about 5 thou meter descent between miles 64
and 66, but they did this over and over and over. The elevation plot for the
race looks a lot like a temperature chart for someone with the worst case of
influenza you've ever seen. There were 17 ascents and descents in the 100
miles. And when I consider the great shape some of those horses were in by
vet check THAT'S endurance. Some of the riders looked like they'd
NEVER pass a vet check if they were given one, though.

All in all, it was one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. I saw
that an important ride doesn't have to rely on a lot of expensive
technogadgets. Those Radio Shack clocks were probably the most important
things around. I saw the necessity of getting those volunteers out there
and, even more important, taking good care of them when they're out there
freezing their butts off at 3 am. I saw how important it is to have the
trail ready a week in advance so that there are maps and places to put
volunteers and vet checks....a luxury we've been a bit short on here. I got
a chance to see some old friends, Neil...the Dubai timing king was taking a
break and crewing for a change and having a ball. Our favourite cheerful
Canadian, Jim Bryant, was there taking good care of the horses as
usual...he's always SO much nicer to the horses than he is to the riders,
but one heck of a great vet. I even got to meet Michael Stone of the FEI
face to face, however briefly. I hope he got a chance to see that I'm not a
total nut case. I had the honor of having dinner at the same table as
Valerie Kanavy and her husband (eat your heart out, Howard) AND Nina Gibson
Barnett and her husband Duane (sp?). Got a chance to meet Roger Rittenhouse
who supplies all those heart monitors I've dragged back to Egypt, Jennifer
Nice who edits Endurance World and Pamela Burton Jones who writes for it.
There was also a British woman who glanced at my name tag as she cantered
past and said she works for EW too. One of the funniest things for me was
how many people looked at my name tag, then looked again and said "You're
Maryanne from Egypt"! One of those was one of the members of the Appeals (we
called them the Appealing) Committee, who was so happy that no one was
appealing anything. And best of all, I got to watch Kaboot trot out Angie
McGhee. No wonder she's so funny...with a horse like that you NEED a sense
of humour!

Hope I get to see everyone again soon.

Maryanne Stroud Gabbani
Cairo, Egypt

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