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Nations Cup Italian CEIO

2008 Gubbio: Arrivals
Images by Merri Melde

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2008 Gubbio Niations Cup Italian CEIO - Saturday July 5 2008

If one word was to epitomize the goal of the Nations Cup CEIO - of Italy, France, Belgium, of any country that chooses to hold one - it is Team; and if there's one word to define Team at the Gubbio Italian CEIO, that was Belgium, all day, in all respects.

It wasn't just their riders, or their horses, or their final placings, but their concerted participation and effort as a team, that everyone had to have noticed. Wherever there was one Belgian rider and horse, there were a group of Belgians, whether it was for Karin Boulanger, who led on all but the first loop of the 160 km; or waiting at the finish line as the sun was setting for Audrey Olmanst to come in 8th in the 160 km; or holding their breath collectively in a group for Rachel Jaumotte's horse's final 160 km trot out; or consoling Ernesto Mariotti, whose horse vetted out lame after the first loop of the 120 km; or gathering before - and after - the awards presentations on Sunday. They were a Team, and this day they happened to be a very strong one at that.

Thirty-seven horses left the starting line near the stables at 5 AM, with just enough light to see the way without headlamps. It was a cool and damp 12*C at that hour, with little whisps of fog crawling over the mountains to the south of the Gubbio valley. The Endurance Village was slow to wake up - I was sure hovering around the restaurant waiting for the cappuchino machine to be turned on - you wouldn't know there were some horse races going on throughout the surrounding countryside, with 26 more horses starting on the 120 km ride, and 19 on the 93 km ride.

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2008 Gubbio CEIO 160km

The CEIO Teams







Official Team Results (PDF)

The 120km Finish


Vito Grippo


Erica Vagnetti


Matteo Pettinari

Official Results (PDF)

Karin Boulanger
1st Place

Guy Dumas
Idryss du Melay

Rachel Jaumotte
Rukban Dikruhu MMN

Official CEIO Results (PDF)

Photo Galleries

Awards Ceremony
Photos by Merri Melde

Race Day IV
Photos by Merri Melde

Race Day III
Photos by Merri Melde

Race Day II
Photos by Merri Melde

Race Day I
Photos by Merri Melde

Vet In
Photos by Merri Melde

Photos by Merri Melde

Photos by Merri Melde

Faula Arabians

Photos by Merri Melde

Gubbio, Italy I

Photos by Merri Melde


Photos by Merri Melde

Gubbio, Italy II

Photos by Merri Melde

Gubbio: Vet In Day - Friday July 4 2008

The clever logo for the Gubbio Endurance Nations Cup, designed by Grazia Fiorucci (Fausto's sister), is a stone horse emerging above ancient stone ruins of Gubbio, with, as its mane, flags from the countries that have participated in the Nations Cups over the years - 20 since 2003.

It is the fitting symbol of what this event, and the other CEIO Nations Cups in Europe (this year: Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal) are aiming for: a highly competitive endurance circuit for team competitions, which can only strengthen the sport of endurance throughout the world, by involving and developing more top class riders from all nations. Race organizers Nicolas Wahlen of Compiegne, France, Pierre Arnould of Belgium, Paulo Branco of Portugal, and Fausto Fiorucci of Italy, are strong supporters of this new aspect of international endurance.

The Gubbio Endurance Village, replete with its multi-nations' flags flying overhead, white picket fences, and bright flowers decorating the lanes and restaurant, filled with people and horses at 3 in the afternoon for the vet inspections. Coinciding with the beginning of the trot outs were dark threatening clouds rapidly filling up the sky above. It had been extra-clammy humid all day, so you could guess what was coming.

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Countdown to Gubbio - Thursday July 3 2008

I've been known to exaggerate the heat, but the thermometer says it has been in the mid-30's in Gubbio, with significant humidity. Not like Malaysia humidity, but enough to make my clothes stick to my skin and to make my hair frizz. However, Fausto said, that should not matter. "You should ride your horse according to the conditions - the weather, the track. Last year we had 51% completion rate and it was 35*, and no major treatment of horses."

The sky is clear in the mornings, but by 1 PM, thunderclouds start building somewhere in the sky. By late afternoon, there is a rainshower and thunderstorm within sound range (if you can hear thunder) or sight. Yesterday evening it suddenly got dark when the layers of clouds clashed directly overhead, whipping a cool wind through the narrow, labyrinthine streets, sending restaurant owners chasing after their blowing-away signs, and short-sleeved Gubbians running for their doorways. The lights flickered a few times, and a small half-hearted rain shower got one side of the street wet. The weather should be the same for Saturday's races.

Today by afternoon, over a dozen horses, and some extra riders, had arrived at the stables.

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Endurance Village - Wednesday July 2 2008

As the week progresses, the endurance village down by the old Roman Theatre continues to grow. More tents and towers are up, the nations' flags are flying, the entrance and exit gates and finish line and in-gates are up, a catering truck for the bar has arrived and begun to unload equipment. The stables are ready. The printed books will be finished this evening and ready to hand out to businesses in town.

Yesterday evening, Fausto said "Come with me to get a sledgehammer." We walked halfway across the vet area and he said "No, my car is back there! We walked right past it! Why didn't you tell me!" I thought we were walking to get the sledge, but he'd intended to drive. We walked back to his car and drove across town, when suddenly he threw his hands up in the air, like he forgot something, and we turned around. Yes, indeed, he forgot to turn off at his house! "What do you call it when a man forgets his house!" I said, "Too busy!"

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Exploring Gubbio - Tuesday July 1 2008

In some of these old preserved medieval towns in Europe, like Assisi and Gubbio, if you look, you can find some old historic trails that too many tourists don't seem to find and that people these days don't seem to use.

I went into the old part of the town, where the ancient walls beckoned from up high. I found a road that wound up and up, that eventually led me right up to some remains of the old walls. A barricade across the road said No passagio - and I wasn't sure if that was for cars or people, so I turned back. But, in so doing, I spied a small, barely used trail, but definitely a trail, leading up behind the old wall, and below a no-trespassing orchard. So I followed it, the way partially covered by grass and blackberry vines.

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Raising Gubbio - Monday June 30 2008

I don't think Fausto has stopped moving since he dropped me off at the train station on Saturday (or, rather, since before he picked me up for the first time at the train station on Thursday before that). He drove out of the way to the Gubbio train station to pick me up again from my visit to the Marramas, in the midst of another crisis - there was some sort of weekend strike that stopped transport traffic, and it affected the transport of his stables he has to build. Now he's scrambling to get all the materials he needs, and he must use a different design. "People won't notice - the stables will still be good - but I will know it's not the best I had planned."

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Italy: Riding With the Italian Champion! - Saturday June 28 2008

Here I am again, gallivanting off to another endurance family, who are welcoming me into their midst. I don't know them, and they don't know me, but Fausto has arranged it, so off I go.

After 3 train changes and a bit of adventure, I got off in the little village of Popoli - I'm not sure if you'll find that on too many maps - in the Abruzzi region (in the center) of Italy. It's in the foothills of some surrounding mountains that provide plenty of skiing in the winter, and plenty of horseback riding activities and hiking in the summer. A few people got off the train here with me, and there was only one person waiting at the station: Adriano Marrama. He didn't speak English, and my only Italian words are those that happen to be the same as the few Spanish words I know - in other words, it was hopeless. We tried and tried to communicate, but other than the weather, and scenery, it was pretty hopeless and we just laughed at each other.

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Italy: Faula Arabs Gubbio
Friday June 27 2008

Two gold medals, four sliver, one bronze in European and World Endurance Championships. Once Italian Champion (1997), once European team Champion (2001), once Individual European Champion (2001). One otherworldly horse - Faris Jabar. And this, after Fausto Fiorucci only began riding horses about 15 years ago, in the early 1990's. He'd been a runner, and biker, and a champion fisherman, but it wasn't till his friends said to him one day, "Come ride a 30 km ride with us," that he got on an endurance horse for the first time in his 40's. He won. And he was hooked.

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Italy: Gubbio Endurance
Saturday June 28 2008

It's not just a love for endurance horses and riding, or his enjoyment of organizing rides, or his love of his hometown of Gubbio and his desire to share its history and beauty and show it off to the world that causes Fausto Fiorucci to go to the time, trouble, and expense of putting on an international endurance ride. It's also his passion to widen the popularity of endurance in Italy and make it more accessible to more riders, and to elevate the profile of the sport and introduce a larger public.

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