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California: Endurance ride draws largest crowd ever

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Oroville Mercury Register Online
By Bridget Bowers/Sports Writer
Article Launched: 11/08/2007 07:36:40 PM PST

The Lake Oroville Vista Endurance (LOVE) group held the 9th annual endurance ride on Saturday with its largest field ever.

Laurie Anderson said that the turnout exceeded their estimation with nearly 200 entries showing up to take part in this ride.

The riders came from all over the western United States she said and were arriving late into the night on Friday until both levels of the parking lot were triple parked and overflowing.

"It was an amazing ride. I think we really surprised everyone with how many people showed up," Anderson said. "It took a lot of work to get everything started especially in the dark."

Anderson said that the help of the Department of Water Resources was really key in making sure everything went off without a hitch.

"They (DWR) did a lot of work to make sure it went well. They had patrols monitoring the area the whole weekend on their own time," she said.

The ride trotted out at 7 a.m. for the 50-mile ride and those going only 30 miles started out at 8 a.m. from the Diversion Pool.

The event was coordinated by State Parks Mounted Assistance Unit and Kathy Papa was the ride manager.

Anderson said that despite the overwhelming numbers the responses from both the volunteers and the riderswere positive.

"The riders (from out of town) couldn't believe the trails. They just loved them," Anderson said. "And no matter what was going on the volunteers always had a smile on their face."

The ride featured a who's who in endurance riding with a number of seasoned riders, champions and Tevis Cup winners.

The course began at the Diversion Pool and went up through the Loafer Creek area. It went across Highway 162 into Stringtown area.

And all along the trail, volunteers were stationed in order to help the riders and to keep them on the proper trail.

"It was actually unseasonably hot this year," Anderson said. "So it took a lot of hard work from our volunteers to help keep the horses cool."

Anderson said there were 100's of volunteers doing everything from manning the trails to taking pulses at the check points and serving food at the halfway point.

"A lot of the volunteers don't ride or even have anything to do with horses," she said.

A buffet was laid out at the halfway point and was donated by Dr. Shannon serving sandwiches and at the end of the ride, a barbecue dinner was set up.

Anderson said that the ride was also given the assistance of the Sweep Rider of the Sierras (SOS), the only mounted assistance rescue unit in the west.

SOS doesn't just ride with every event. Anderson said the LOVE ride was very lucky to get them involved.

The SOS riders are ham radio operators and are trained for emergency situations.

"They "sweep" along behind the riders checking the trails and are there to render assistance if needed," Anderson said. "They are a critical link for the Tevis Cup 100-mile ride."

Anderson said she wanted to stress how important the volunteers and DWR were to making the LOVE ride a success.

"We had a blast with the event. Even the riders coming in at 7 p.m. at the cutoff had huge smiles on their faces," Anderson said.

The motto to finish is to win was definitely seen in the riders.

She said that there were awards, donated from throughout the community, given to a variety of categories from the best conditioned to fun awards for oldest and youngest riders along with a tail end award for the final finisher.

Anderson said she wanted to thank DWR, the veterinarians and all the volunteers that made the ride possible. With a special thanks to Dr. Richard Smith who marked the trails.

"That's always a lot of work making sure the markings are easy to see in order to keep people on the right path," Anderson said.

The 50-mile top finishers were Kristine Hartman of Meadow Vista on 9-year-old Sam and Dennis Tracy on San Ffrancisco in five hours 34 minutes. 30-mile top finisher was Charlotte Fairbanks in four hours and one minute.

Best conditioned for the 50 miles was Suzanne Huff of Gardenerville, NV on Chase the Wind, her 17-year-old Arabian.

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