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2009 Pan American Championship
Images by Steph Teeter

2009 Pan American Championship
Images by Steph Teeter

2009 Pan American Championship
Images by Steph Teeter

Home || Starters List || Official Website || Final Results

Stories: Got Here Just in Time - Steph || Arrival in Uruguay - Dinah Rojek || Day Before the Race - Kathy Brunjes || Hola!! Kyle Gibbon
Vet In Day - Steph || Thursday Morning - Kathy Brunjes || Thursday Afternoon - Kathy Brunjes || On Loop 3 - Steph
Friday Night - Kathy || The Day After - Kathy|| Heading Home - Dinah || Pan Am Departure - Kyle
2 Medallas de oro para la Argentina - Claudia Quentin
Steph's Story:
Part 1, The Venue
Part 2, Team Effort - Uruguay and Argentina
Part 3, Team Effort - USA
Part 4, Team Effort - Guatemala and Malaysia

Images of the Event:
Vetting In || The Road || The Beach || The Camp || The Camp - more || The Finish || Awards Celebration || Team USA

Hola! - Kyle Gibbon

Here we are at the Pan American Games in Costa Azul, Uruguay. Also known here as the ¨PANAMERICANO DE ENDURANCE¨. We have 4 american riders representing the United States in a team and they are Gabrielle Mann (CA), Stephen Rojek (VT), Valerie Kanavy(VA), and Cheryl Van Deusen (FL). Our grooms/crew include Desiree Mann, Kyle Gibbon, Dinah Rojek, Mary Farris, Tom Hutchinson, Kathy Brunjes and Grace Ramsey. Other components of our team include Vonita Bowers, our vet Jim Bryant Jr., and Chef d´equipe Becky Hart. Gabrielle Mann will be riding CM Big Easy, Stephen Rojek on Seyvilla Triproof, Cheryl Van Deusen on Da Al Capone. I am not sure who Valerie will be riding.

This is a beautiful country with lovely people. The landscape is a little different than the U.S., consisting of many pines and eukalytpus trees along with pompous grass. We find chickens, pigs, geese, horses, and cows quite common in peoples yards and along side the road. All of the homes are very unique. Almost all of the houses are quite small but colorful with tin or italian style tile rooves. Most seem to be made of brick or stucco, with quaint little yards and an assortment of dogs and other animals. There is a lot of road construction going on but it seems as if many people use buses, bikes, moped type bikes, and even walk.

Beings that we are south of the equator, Uruguay is going into Fall but the weather seems very mild and enjoyable. Expected weather for the 120 Km ride tomorrow is upper 60´s and sunny, so it shall be a great day for all the competitors and their horses!

Now, I will tell you about some of our adventures up until now. Steve, Dinah, and I (Kyle) flew to Montevideo, Uruguay from Miami, Fl and arrived Tuesday morning. It was about a 9 hour flight but it went very smoothly. Unfortunaly, Kathy Brunjes was to fly with us from Miami but was not able to because her flight was canceled. She had to jump through some hoops to finally get to Uruguay but she made it in on Wednesday evening. I believe that most of the horses flew out of the U.S.A on Sunday and they all arrived at the grounds safely and in perfect health.

Okay, so we arrive at the airport with Vonita and Becky, retrieve our luggage and proceed to get a rental car. Luckily, Dinah had a map and we could easily find the way to our hotel, ¨Hotel Pieroska¨. We are staying in a very nice town called Atlandtida, maybe about 50 Kms from Montevideo which is the capital of Uruguay. Our first day here we found are way to the venue for the ride which is close by in a town called Costa Azul. The venue is very beautiful with many different barns for all the horses. We go to see the horses and to familiarize ourselves with the ride site. Soon after, we drove a few kms to an elaborate arabian auction at a local farm. We were entertained with beautiful horses and lucious food. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves. Afterwards, we decide to go to a restaurant in Atlantida. It took us quite a while to order our meals, not one of us knew very much spanish! Neverless, the food was delicious and we had a grand time.

Wednesday we head off to the barns to take care of the horses. We worked on our trot outs and were able to see the vet check and crew areas. Kathy´s flight was to arrive in Montevideo at 1 p.m. Steve, Dinah, Tom and I drive to the airport anxiously awaiting her arrival. Only to get there and find out that her flight has once again been delayed until 6 p.m. that night. We had to get back to the venue so our riders could exercise their mounts at 3 p.m. so we rush back to Atlantida. We´re driving along and all of the cars are taking a left. Without even thinking we turn left as well. We assume it must be a detour of some sort. A few Kms, later we are driving by a church and all the cars pull in!! It was a funeral!


Okay, well the road we were on was parallel to the road we were ¨supposed¨ to be on so we continue. Before we know it we are going through the picturesque town of ¨Pando¨. We continue on and on and don´t find the route we were supposed to be on so we decide to turn around and stop at a gas station for a map. It turns out if we had gone just maybe 1/2 mile further before we turned around we would have spotted a sign for Atlantida! (smack in the forehead) So off we go and take another route to get on our way to Atlantida and on to the venue in Costa Azul. We get there just in time to saddle the horses up for their 3 p.m. ride! When our riders returned, we cleaned them up and heading out for the hotel. We had to change and shower for the cocktail party being held at the ride site. Cheryl, Mary, Steve, Gabrielle, Desiree, and I arrive tardy at the cocktail party in our matching attire. The others decided to stay home and prepare a meal for later in the evening. They decided that they have gone to enough cocktail parties. :-)

They sure missed a good one! We were served delicious hors d´oerves and scrumptious desserts along with some Uruguayan wine. It was very exciting to mingle with all the people from different countries. Everyone was very friendly and we met and talked with many people. There were people from Brazil, England, Guatemala, Uruguay, Argentina, Columbia, Malaysia, Belgium,etc. It was absolutely fantastic!

We then returned to the Hotel Pieroska to find an assortment of charcoal cooked meats and salad. It was the entire U.S. Team including Flavia and her husband Alfredo (I´m sorry I do not know their last names) who are from Uruguay. They are both vets and some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Flavia and Alfredo will be Valerie´s crew for the 120 km. We finish up dinner with a team meeting and head off to bed dozy thanks to the wine. ;-)

Thursday morning we get up bright and early! Very busy day ahead of us. The U.S. vet inspection is scheduled for 8 a.m. We warm the horses up and practice our trot outs before it´s time to brush them and head to the vets. Everything goes smoothly and the horses are all in fine shape for the event ahead of them! 11 a.m. we have a tour of some of the crew spots and criticial parts of trail for the riders. Luckily we were set up with a translator! YAY! She is a lovely lady of European descent by the name of Margo. She was of great help! She and her children will be helping us crew. It was a very fun trip driving all through the town and along side the beach. This 120 km is going to have about 47 km of the course located on the beach. I believe that is about 30 miles. So, nearly half the ride. We arrive back at the farm and tack the horses for another ride scheduled for 3 p.m. While our riders are checking the beach trail out, we are organizing everything for the crew areas and preparing for the day ahead. It actually went quite fast, we found ourselves standing around waiting for our rider´s return. We are well prepared!

Vonita, Jim, and Becky scoot us out of the stables by 6 p.m. and we head to the grocery store for items such as water, soda, sandwiches, apples, carrots, etc. Oh, and Kathy had to find a ¨compact¨. I have no idea what that is, but she found one! We also bought some ¨brizcochos¨, which is a breakfast type food that we have been enjoying at our hotel every morning since our arrival! They are similiar to a croissant with sugar, not sure what else but they are delicious! The Uruguayans seem to really enjoy their bakery items, there was quite a selection.

Once we got back to the hotel we had a variety of food from the grocery store, leftovers from the night before and Grace ordered Pizzas for us all. We had one last team meeting and off to bed we go. We will be heading to the barns at 5 a.m. (4 a.m. EST) for the ride start at 7 a.m. I hope you all think of us and wish the U.S.A. and all other competitors the best of luck! I know we are all having a blast and ready to rock´n´roll tomorrow!

I wish I could have posted some pictures for you.

(I think we´re all learning some spanish :-)

Buenos Noches!
-Kyle Gibbon