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2011 AERC
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Team Challenge

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2011 North American Team Challenge
Images by Merri

2011 North American Team Challenge
Images by Merri

Final Entries (download file) || Course Map
The Party Before The Calm Before The Storm || Winding Up

The Party Before the Calm Before the Storm

Thursday September 23 2011

If you didn't see the horses - which you can't from Camp Central, because they're camped in the south field - you'd think it was just a big camping party.

Wine and cheese sponsored by Pac North, great folk music - guitar, stand up bass, mandolin and accordion - got the dancers started. Endurance riders from the Northeast, Central, Mountain, North, South, Southeast, and Canada - plus a few foreign riders (final entry list to come) - enjoyed the party before tomorrow's calm before Saturday's early morning start of the 100-mile North American Endurance Team Championship in Greenville, California.

"It's one big family that you see year after year," Canadian Joan said. She drove a couple of horses from Alberta, lost an axle near Reno, and was happy to be here with everybody. She rode in the first Endurance Championship in 1988; since then she's been rider, crew, groom, driver, you name it.

The Canadians originally had 15 horses and riders scheduled to come; the number dropped to 8, then 5 - and now just 4. But chef d'equipe Maura said, "We're here, and we'll have fun."

No, Doug Swingley - former Iditarod winner-turned-endurance rider - did not retire from endurance to race pigeons. He heard the same rumor. He's here riding Pal of Mine; a Swedish gal is riding another of his horses, National Security. There is some truth to the pigeon racing, though.

The two winners from the 2009 AERC Championship over this same course are here: Nicole Smith with Pac South is riding Ravenwood Shahbar (winner of the 50 mile ride); Lindsay Graham with Pac North is riding Monk (winner of the 100 miler).

Monk is hot off his 100-mile win and BC at Lake Almanor last month where he ran a 6 hour 53 minute race (!!). Monk is a mountain horse. This is a mountain ride. He and Lindsay know this course. Keep an eye on Monk Saturday.

Jeremy Reynolds is riding A Kutt Above. He also broke 7 hours in finishing second to Monk at Lake Almanor last month. Heather Reynolds will be riding Destiny Gold, Valerie Kanavy's horse.

Jan Worthington with Central is back riding Golden Lightning - the duo who was struck by lightning in Malaysia in 2008. Jan and Grace Ramsey have provided a number of horses for other riders from other regions.

Former World Champion Becky Hart with Pac South is riding No Repeat ("Pete," says Becky, "or sometimes 'Sweet Pete', when he's good") a nice little Darley Arabian horse that's been brought along slowly - and who finished third in the Lake Almanor ride, breaking 8 hours.

The Butler mother-daughter duo from Central, Darolyn Butler and her daughter Ce i Butler-Stasiuk are riding a couple of DJB horses, as well as loaning a couple of horses to other riders on other teams.

It will be an exciting race with some interesting strategies. It's a tough ride - first phase is a big climb and 23 km to an out vet check with a 30 minute hold; phase 2 is 35 km into camp for a 45 minute hold; phase 3 is 23 km to camp for a 60 minute hold; 4th phase 24 km to an out vet check for a 45 minute hold; 5th phase 32 km to an out vet check for a 30 minute hold; sixth phase 23 km to the finish.

Weather forecast is for 46* overnight, high of 85 during the day. Trails are over existing, but rarely used roads and single track trails on the Plumas and Lassen National Forests and on private forest-lands. Elevations range from 3500 to 6500 feet.

Final vetting in is today; start time tomorrow is 6:30 AM.

Merri Melde