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Old Dominion (aka Beast of the East) part one - Shannon Loomis || The Beast of the East - on the 55 Mile trail - April Dobson
My Old Dominion - Nancy Sluys

2011 Old Dominion 25-55-100

Photos by Becky Pearman here

Photos by Flora Hillman, Dawn Engle, Kevin Pfoertsch and other riders!

Old Dominion (aka Beast of the East) part one - Shannon Loomis

June 13 2011

**Warning: The following email will be long and tedious, as brain and fingers are still slightly numb)**

Sooo. How to start. My saga actually started forever ago. My 11 year old daughter expressed an interest in trying 100 miles. She finally has a horse that might be capable of 100 miles, her little Morgan mare, Angel, who finished all 250 miles of Shore to Shore in 2010. Old Dominion is our closest 100, only 140 (or so) miles directly east of us, over the big mountains on the VA-WV line. My Morgan gelding and I completed the OD 100 in 2009. So, months ago, during the winter, when it seemed forever away, I said, sure, why not! And I talked a friend of a friend, Karen Bell of NC, into joining us.

Unfortunately, as soon as my truck heard we wanted to go over the mountains, it started to act up. The check engine light came on. Repeatedly. My radiator sprung a leak. Various valves and doo-hickeys cracked. So it has been in the shop. Repeatedly. Finally, I asked the mechanic if it would hurt to drive it if the light came on while towing my trailer to VA. He said no, just take it slow. I picked it up from the shop on Wednesday, forked over more wads of money, and it was running great. No warning lights, zooming along fine.

After a few really hot, frantic days of packing, we were finally ready to go. The horses were freshly shod and sported strange new haircuts. My husband was shanghied into pit crew service with only a few token protests and the threat of being bound and tied to the hay rack on top of the trailer.

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The Beast of the East - on the 55 Mile trail - April Dobson

June 13 2011

The following is from April Dobson (from Virginia) who rode her Thoroughbred X gelding "Piper" in the OD 55 - his first endurance ride.

The Old Dominion 55 – "The Beast of the East"

After years of frustrating lameness issues, it appears that 2011 is going to be a good year for my horse Piper and me. After two strong spring completions I decided to move it up in June , which meant signing up for the Old Dominion 50. Or, as I’ve been constantly reminded, 55 miles of the toughest trail on the east coast. This was to be Piper’s first endurance ride other than an LD.

The weather wasn’t great with highs in the upper 80’s and some serious humidity, but it has been worse in previous years. We actually had some rain that brought some relief Friday night, and an afternoon shower on ride day cooled stuff out for a little bit, until it became steamy again. Piper did great, finishing sound and healthy with an overall A in a ride time of 10 hours and 5 minutes. His attitude impressed me even more than his athleticism. It’s not easy to keep up a chipper mood for that long.

I actually really liked the trail. It’s funny to hear everyone’s opinions about it. Some think the old OD was harder, some think that the new OD is harder – I guess it’s all in what your horse’s strengths and weaknesses might be and what your preference of trail is. I only ever did the LD at the old OD and LOVED it. Out to the river and into the field and back again. This one has some very long climbs. And lots of rocks of course! It also had blooming mountain laurel everywhere and some spectacular views. I honestly thought the ratio of trail to road was about even, but it’s all or nothing. You ride over rocky trail for so long that you beg for a road. Then you are on the road for so long that you beg for a trail. Back and forth and back and forth.

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My Old Dominion - Nancy Sluys

June 13 2011

Whew, I have just returned from an epic weekend at the Old Dominion 100 mile Endurance Ride in Virginia! I went there with my 7 year old, Zanie, to do the 55 but once I was there I decided at the last minute to bump up to the 100! I’m not sure what came over me but I just couldn't bear the thought that I would be missing the best part of the trail and really the “Old Dominion” IS the 100 mile ride. Zanie had finished the Biltmore 75 mile ride easily 5 weeks earlier and a slow NATRC ride 2 weeks later where she had a perfect vet score and had been resting for 3 weeks since then. I felt like the time could be right for our 1st 100.

I came by myself and had no crew, I contemplated riding in the cavalry division but being Zanie's 1st 100 and not knowing what all she would need I decided to send my crew bags to the vet checks instead, as management had offered to take a separate bag to each vet check if you would pile it in a certain location. In hindsight I should have ridden cavalry (where I would have all my stuff with me on my saddle) as there was a mix up with my bags and I ended up with no supplies for most of the ride :-(.

The weather preceding the ride was extremely hot, it was 99 degrees on the trailer ride up there but on race day the temps were a little better with the high expected to me in the mid to high 80s. A big storm the night before had cooled things off a bit but did play with the humidity. We got started in the dark and by the time we reached the first peak the sun was just coming up offering spectacular views of the sunrise over the Shenandoah valley and foothills to the right and the peaks on the WV border to the left. It was pleasantly cool as we made our way to the first vet check at Bird Haven around 17 miles into the ride. When I arrived I found all my crew bags had been delivered there. Being a bit nervous about that I went ahead and sent the 3rd vet check bag with a friends crew just in case.

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