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RE: (Fwd) Re: VT-100 - a LONG story (fwd)


-----Original Message-----
From:	Katherine J. Brunjes []
Sent:	Monday, July 20, 1998 10:08 AM
Subject:	(Fwd) Re: VT-100 - a LONG story (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 12:42:15 +0000
Subject: (Fwd) Re: VT-100 - a LONG story

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Mon, 20 Jul 1998 08:43:39 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:       Re: VT-100 - a LONG story

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Steph Teeter

I want to share my VT-100 experience with you all, because my husband 
tells me that I need a catharsis, and what better forum than this, 
since you have either all been there, done that - or have shared 
similar stories.  Since I am in need of a catharsis, you now know 
that this does not have a happy ending - although the story in and of 
itself is happy.  So - warning!  delete now if you are not in the 
mood to hear about this year's VT-100 endurance race. 

Background:  we arrived Thursday afternoon in 90 degree temps with 
high humidity - I have my gelding, Ali Darkness, and my friend Debbie 
Deshon has held gelding Jahyr Jamlin - we have trained together, 
ridden each other's horses, and this is my fourth attempt at this 
ride, and her first.  We plan to ride together if at all possible, 
since our horses are so good together, and we, as riders, like to 
ride together!  Everything is wonderful, and that evening we prepared 
shish kabobs and salads for our crews, and anyone else who wanted to 
join us (we fed about 30 people that night!).  

Friday dawned hot and humid again - and we all prayed for a break in 
the weather.  The forecast kept saying that a front was coming 
through, and to expect thunderstorms, but none came.  The coolest 
place on the whole grounds was in the indoor arena, where the 
vetting-in took place.  Please, let it rain or something!  I have 
done this ride in the boiling heat, and it's no fun - alot of the 
trail is our on the open roads, and in the heat of the day, it is 
mind numbing.  Prior to our vetting in, Debbie and I decided to ride 
the finish trail - approximately 3.5 miles out, so we would have a 
nice 7 mile warm-up ride.  As we started out from the campsite, 
Debbie's horse seemed odd - not himself.  We worried that he might be 
tying up.  She went for a vet, I rode out with another rider for our 
warm-up.  When I got back from our ride, Debbie's husband had gone 
back to Maine (about a 4 hour trip one way) to get another horse, and 
Jahyr had been treated for pulled muscles in his neck.  On Thursday, 
while Deb was bathing him, he had pulled back on his cross-ties 
really hard, and evidently at that point pulled muscles that did not 
show up until we started to ride - very odd, but thankfully not tying 
up.  I vetted in about 2pm, and we did not expect Deb's husband back 
until 7pm - he arrived around 6:30 with her back up horse, she vetted 
in, and we breathed a sigh of relief.  Again - our plan is to ride 
together, because the horses trained together (I actually ride her 
back up horse on a regular basis) and they go good together.  Life is 
sweet.  We went to bed at 9pm, all prepared for the morning.

Saturday dawned clear and cooler - with a breeze!  The stars were 
out, and that was a good sign.  We watched the runners (250+ ultra 
marathoners) take off at 4am, and trekked up the hill to get our 
horses for our start.  If you have never been there, it is the most 
moving sight to see all those runners crossing the start line with 
Chariots of Fire playing in the background, and everyone cheering and 
clapping, with fireworks in the background.  It charges you, as a 
rider, up, and we were ready!  Deb and I walked down the hill on our 
horses, Pentagon and Ali calm and cool, and ready.

We spent the day together, breezing through the holds, never taking 
more than 2 minutes to get our P&Rs, and having a great ride.  Our 
crews were the best (IMHO) - mine consisted of my mother, Janet 
Brunjes - my biggest fan, and without whom I would not be where I am 
today with horses, my husband, Tom Hutchinson - who is my saner half, 
and although would rather ride, consented to crew for me, which meant 
the world to me, my cousin - who is a junior rider, 12 years old, and 
along for the experience, and my friend, Lois Crowley, who has never 
crewed, but has thousands of miles of competitive trail riding 
experience.  Deb's crew consisted of her husband, Jim - probably the 
calmest person I know - Jim is always low key and has crewed for me 
on occasion, when Tom and I were both riding, April Buck, who owns 
the horse Deb was riding - April is a ride manager and experienced 
endurance rider, a junior rider (11 years old), and our friend Lisa 
Keene, also an experience rider who has crewed for both of us many 
times before.  We were prepared, had terrific crews, and life is 
still golden.  At the third hold, in the heat of the day, our crews 
laid out sleeping bags and pillows in the highly limited and coveted 
shade, placed iced towels around our necks and faces, and let us 
sleep for 20 minutes!  Can you beat that?  And our horses's legs were 
iced and I really have never had such TLC for either my horse or 

Again, were were cruising through the day - staying in 7th and 8th 
place, without really trying - our goal was to finish, no matter what 
time, and GET THE BUCKLE.  Again, this was my fourth attempt, without 
success on Ali's sister Anna, and Deb's first attempt, although 
Pentagon has done this before and GOTTEN THE BUCKLE.  I'm sure 
Pentagon was telling Ali all about the trail, just as I was telling 
Debbie when and where our crews would meet us, and how long it would 
take us to go through sections, and when to judge time till the next 
hold.  It is such a rush to pass the runners' cre stations, and have 
both sides of the road lined with people clapping and cheering you 
on.  THe horses love it, and it sure does make you feel special.  

At 11pm, we were coming into the last hold - at 96.4 mile from the 
finish.  We were having fun, still - although both Deb and I had such 
indigestion, we could hardly talk!  Caution - don't gorge yourself on 
watermelon and then ride 12 miles - it didn't settle too well.  We 
were calling for Tums as we went through the ingate!  I had felt Ali 
take two funny steps a few miles before we came into the hold, and 
had listened to his hoofbeats on the road, watched the shadow of his 
head in our glow stick lights (we each had head lamps, which we did 
not use except in the darkest woods, and three glow sticks taped to 
our breast plates for our actual lights - they are really all you 
need out on the roads, even if we do look like space ships coming in 
for a landing), and he seemed even - I posted to both diagonals, and 
stood up in the stirrups, closed my eyes and listed to his feet his 
the road, and he seemed alright - so I didn't worry.  It was only two 
funny steps, after all.

We arrived at the last hold, our crews cheering us, because our time 
is good for a midnight finish - and we are now in 6th and 7th place.  
We both made it through the hold, although the vet said Deb's horse 
was getting stiff in the rear end, and Ali trotted a little off in 
the right front - where I had felt the funny steps.  My vet said it 
was not much, and certainly was Ali was a "finisher" - Deb and I 
drank some coke to get rid of our indigestion and give us a little 
caffeine, ate our Tums, and decided to walk the last few miles in - 
it was mostly in the woods, and we could take our time - we were 
almost through.  The horses were perky - Ali had hit his "wall" 
around 80 miles, and was over it by mile 84, the 5th hold, and 
Pentagon had hit his wall just prior to coming into this last hold - 
so we were in fine shape.  We talked and sang songs and walked 
through the woods, let our horses east grass in the field right 
before you enter the last mile stretch, and kept pace with three 
runners coming into the finish.  Life is still good, and Deb and I 
both said we would try not to cry when we completed. 

We trotted across the finish line, ears up, everyone cheering for us, 
our crew, friends, and all the runners' crews and support teams.  We 
were teary, and we hugged each other, and our horses were ready to 
go for P&Rs - Pentagon and Ali trotted out side by side - and I felt 
the pull on the reins, and the slight hesitation half way down the 
trot; when we headed back towards Nancy Loving, I could see out of 
the corner of my eye that he was favoring his right front.  I was 
stunned.  Pentagon went through his vetting, no problem and they were 
completed - Nancy and Don Keifer told me to ice Ali and come back 
within the hour - everying else was fine on him - good gut sounds, 
CRI was 52/48 and dehydration was fine - were only needed a sound 
trot.  We iced, massaged and I had Jim cut his pad out on front, and 
we dug a rock out of his pad.  Ali's butt was fine, no tightness, and 
we felt that the stone was the problem.  We walked him, and took the 
ice boots off, and I went to Nancy and told her about the stone.  She 
was relieved that that may have been the problem, and we trotted 
again.  Still off.  Everytime Ali hit with the right front, he bobbed 
and was sore.  Don came over and said he was sorry, Nancy hugged me 
and said she was sorry - Don commiserated with me about my bad luck 
at this ride, and they both came out with me while my crew walked Ali 
away, and gave me some suggestions about how to take care of him for 
the night - at this point I was so brain dead and dumb founded that I 
really couldn't think properly.  I will never forget the stunned look 
on my crews' faces and the quiet that fell over the crowd in the 
indoor arena when we trotted out lame.  If nothing else told me, that 

My crew offered to walk Ali up that long hill to camp, but I thanked 
them and said we would walk together.  We walked and talked all the 
way up the hill, and I thanked Ali for such a great ride, and told 
him I hoped he had a good time, because he was the greatest, and how 
much I appreciated our positive experience together.   He was quiet, 
but we shared the moment.  

We iced again when we got back to camp, I pouticed him and fed him, 
and he ate with gratitude.  Everyone hugged me - and although I know 
they felt really bad, at that point you just want to be left alone to 
wallow in your self pity.  I sent everyone to bed, thanking them for 
all their help, and apologizing for letting them all down.  Deb's 
husband stayed around to help me put Ali up, and Jane Graffam, a very 
good and old friend, who had two horses in the 50 mile event that 
day, sat up with me to just sit - we didn't talk, and she didn't 
console, because that was not what I needed just then.  Tom left - 
because his pain and disappointment for me was too raw, and he knows 
me so well that he knew that what  I needed was to just be alone with 
my horse.  My mother cried, and went to bed, and that was probably 
the hardest part of the whole thing for me.  Jane and I sat for about 
30 minutes, then we said goodnight, and I crawled into bed.  We had 
finished at 3 minutes before midnight, Deb and I in 6th and 7th 
place.  It was now 1:30.

I got up at 5:00 and fed Ali again - Tom asked me if I wanted to go 
out to breakfast and I said no - he left, and I crawled back into 
bed.  I didn't want to get up when I heard everyone stirring around 
7:00 - I wanted to hide with my misery - I didn't feel I could stand 
everyone telling me how sorry they were.  But I had to tend to Ali, 
and I got up - I rubbed him down, and tried to avoid everyone - Ali 
and I went for a walk, and he did this little jog beside me, like he 
always does when we walk - I walk with long strides, and he jogs.  He 
looked good, and didn't look off.   At this point, I am still numb 
with disappointment - how did this happen?  We had such a terrific 
day and ride - everything had been perfect - Ali was perfect.  

People came over to give me their condolences.  We thanked them all 
for their support.  I personnally want to thank Valerie Kanavy for 
coming over to check on us, and to give me some very wise words.  Her 
words were the kind I needed, and the answer to her question of me, 
"would you have done anything different about the ride" was "No"  - 
and that made me feel better.   I also want to thank Steve Rojek for 
his compassion and words.  

We packed up and went home.  Ali ran off the trailer (literally) and 
I turned him out to pasture.  After he rolled and visited with all 
his pasture buddies, he trotted off to the lower field, and I watched 
his grace and energy, and was relieved to see that he was sound.  
Maybe it was the stone, maybe he twisted something and it hurt just 
enough to put him off - who knows.  He has no tendon swelling, and no 
heat.  He feels great today, Monday, and trotted toward me when I 
went out to feed up this morning.  He looks older and wiser, and I 
love this horse.  As far as I'm concerned, he did the VT 100 and gave 
me 100 miles of pure pleasure - and no, we didn't get the buckle but 
I learned a great deal, and I will replay the experience for a long 
time to come.  

Kathy Brunjes and Ali Darkness, a great little horse.

"horse thou art truly a creature without equal for thou fliest without wings and conquest without sword"  The Koran
Kathy Brunjes, MLIS
Voice:  (207)743 5933 ext.323
  Fax:  (207)743 5933 ext.571

"horse thou art truly a creature without equal for thou fliest without wings and conquest without sword"  The Koran
Kathy Brunjes, MLIS
Voice:  (207)743 5933 ext.323
  Fax:  (207)743 5933 ext.571

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