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Endurance in
Tarbes, France

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2008 Tarbes
Images by Team Nellie

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Photo by Team Nellie

Peaking Above the Clouds

Tarbes doesn't quite nestle at the foot of the Pyrenees - it's a few kilometres away across a flat plain - but they certainly dominate the landscape. Unless you're in the town centre itself you're constantly catching a breathtaking glimpse at the most unlikely times. You turn out of the doorway of a cafe, or cross the carpark of a superstore and look up, and there they are, snow-capped, flattened against the sky, peaking above cloud level, somehow always managing to be surprising. Perhaps because Tarbes itself is so unmountainous. The Tarbes endurance ride doesn't involve any mountains as such, just something called the Cote de Ger; sharper than a foothill, but you wouldn't need oxygen or Sherpas to walk it, and your car will whizz up the hairpin road from bottom to top in a couple of minutes. If, on the other hand, you and your horse have to climb up and down it 10 or 12 times in the course of a 120k race, then you find it merits respect. Mix it with good sections of cantering, a variety of ground conditions - stony tracks, stubble fields, forest floor - and a regional climate that sees temperature and humidity rising steadily through the day - and you have a ride that, whilst not one of the great challenges, is testing enough. You have to have everything in place; you can't rely on scraping through.

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Results (Detailed (PDF/XSL)