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[RC] 2009 OD update - Mary Howell

Hello Roger and other ridecampers:

I had to return home early and left before the OD awards ceremony yesterday,
so my information is somewhat incomplete, but I can report this year's OD
was a big success, with more than 155 entries in the 3 distances and a VERY
high completion rate - about 24 out of 33 in the 100 miler, for example.

Bonnie Hannah was first in the 50 on the same horse that won and BC'd the
Biltmore 75. First junior and 3rd place in the 50 was Hunter Green on Barb
Horstmeier's horse Lee. Claire Godwin on Amos was first in the 100 and Ruth
Ann Everett was 2nd.

My main job was to help coordinating volunteers and horse ambulances. We had
wonderful ride workers - including our vet team - who were flexible and wore
multiple hats. I heard that 2 of the holds were a bit short staffed despite
our best efforts to allocate volunteers but those station heads made things
work, recruiting help from among the drag riders or crews when possible.

My "day of ride" job was setting up the 2 100 miler aid stations (Wates Run
at the 63 mile mark and Liberty Furnace at the 82 mile mark). We were amazed
how fast the pace was and tightly grouped they all were - the first 3 (Stagg
Newman, Ruth Ann Everett and Claire Godwin) arrived at Wates at 2:53 pm but
all the riders were through by 5:30 pm.

Two of the 4 cavalry riders, Suzanne Solis and Pete Fields, pulled at this
point in the ride but Kathy Shank (who paced with Kim Orr most of the day)
and Tom Palenczy from Ontario both completed and sounded exhilarated by the
experience. Kathy said the only thing she would have done differently would
be to pack less people food and more grain for her horse, but there was lots
of grass on trail and she must have done something right since she received
the Old Dominion Award. I think Ruth Ann got BC.

There was a short period of rain the night before the ride and scattered
showers around nightfall on Saturday, but otherwise the weather was perfect
- not unbearably hot or humid with cloud cover most of the day to help out.

We did have one 50 miler miss a key turn and end up doing the 3rd leg of the
100 mile trail. By the time she got to that hold, everything was packed up
and everyone gone, but she managed to get to a pay phone somewhere and call
for help. It was a bit after dark before we got word she was OK, so the Old
Dominion Drag Riders and local police could stop their searching efforts.

One trail marking innovation this year was using small pieces of reflective
tape at the ends of the ride ribbons in the later sections of 100 mile
trail, which the riders' head lamps picked up pretty well and helped provide
insurance in case a glow stick got pulled off or malfunctioned.

- Mary Howell


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