100 miles in 24 hours - can your horse do that?
October 23, 2007 11:14 PM   Subscribe

The Western States Trail Ride, more commonly known as the Tevis Cup, is an equestrian competition held annually in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. It begins near Squaw Valley, and ends in Auburn - a distance of 100 miles, to be covered in under 24 hours.

With 17,040 feet (5,194m) of climb and 21,970 feet (6,696m) of descent, taking place in the worst heat of late summer, it's not so much a race against the other riders as it is a challenge of simply enduring. The trail passes through old Gold Rush towns and over some spectacular terrain, including the famous Cougar Rock (youtube, see 3:52, 5:02, 6:33, 6:56, and 8:41 for the heart-stopping bits, if you're not inclined to watch 10 minutes of mostly smooth passes).

Around 50% of the 250 entries complete the ride, the rest either pulling out voluntarily or being taken out for unsoundness or signs of fatigue at one of the vet checks along the way. All finishers within 24 hours whose horses are judged "fit to continue" by the veterinarians at the end of the race are awarded a silver belt buckle. In addition, the first-place finisher is awarded the Tevis Cup, and the Haggin Cup is given for the horse considered in the best condition of the first ten across the line.

And the record time? 10 hours, 46 minutes (equal to 9.29 mph or 14.95 km/h) in 1981 - Boyd Zontelli on Rushcreek Hans.
posted by po (10 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Cool post.

The 52nd annual ride was held Saturday, August 5, 2006; the date was selected to take advantage of the full moonlight. 194 riders departed Robie Park, and 87 riders completed the 100-ride to Auburn, so the completion rate was about 45%. The 2006 Tevis Cup winner (first-place finisher at 10:23 PM) was John Crandell of Virginia, who rode an 8-year old Arabian gelding named "Heraldic." The next morning, a team of veterinarians judged the top ten horses for condition, and Heraldic also won the coveted Haggin Cup for "best condition," thus achieving a rare double-trophy status.

I like that one of the main purposes of the race is to keep the horses in good care.

And I'm amazed that, being born in Auburn and raised in the NorCal area, I never heard of this before. I'd love to participate some day.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:50 AM on October 24, 2007

I used to do a lot of endurance riding when I was younger but lately I haven’t had the time for anything more than the occasional weekend excursion.

When I was a teenager I had a Appaloosa mule that could go forever over any kind of terrain with never a misstep. She would have been perfect for Tevis I always though. Unfortunately she died of colic my senior year. Recently I went hiking over some of the trails in the Blue Mountains that I used to take her and was amazed at how fearless/comfortable in the saddle I was with her. Just walking along those trails made me nervous now.

Thanks for this post, I hadn’t thought about the Tevis cup in a while. It’s still on my list of things to do but it may have to wait a few more years.
posted by Tenuki at 4:16 AM on October 24, 2007

It's about time we bought it up to date and replaced the horses with quad bikes and the prizes with useful stuff like holidays in Cancun and plastic surgery.
posted by rhymer at 4:19 AM on October 24, 2007

... What do the horses win?
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:28 AM on October 24, 2007

It's amazing to watch any endurance ride. There are few shortcuts to getting the horse and rider in shape - basic time, pratice and skill. Plus, it helps to have a good ground crew at the stops. I know of one lady who competes on a regional level without a ground crew - and I have no idea how she does it!

Thanks for posting this po - it's not in my league of riding!
posted by mightshould at 5:24 AM on October 24, 2007

Three weeks ago, I ran a 50 mile Man vs. Horse race up in Northern Arizona -- the weekend, horse won, but it's not a given. It was pretty neat, though, having a chance to sit down with the hardcore horse people... I suppose it goes without saying, they're an interesting bunch of folks.

One thing that really struck me was how in control of their horses they were. I mean, sure, I've seen lots of people riding horses down trails, but I'd never seen someone follow their horse up a very steep single-track incline, something that takes a tremendous amount of confidence in the calmness of your horse.

Different ribbons on a horse's tail can mean different things. I was warned to watch out for horses with red ribbons in their tails -- they kick.

The vet checks along the way seemed pretty elaborate, although I'm not sure exactly what it involved beyond having the horse stop, wait 45 minutes, and then checking heart rate. I would've thought a horse could run 50 miles no problem, but a significant percentage dropped out or were yanked by the vets.

10:46 is pretty damn fast... the horse and rider must've both been in fantastic shape. Just as a point of comparison, Scott Jurek, who's an unbelievable runner, ran the Western States Endurance Run in 15:36.
posted by ph00dz at 6:48 AM on October 24, 2007

"This is not a ride for Snivelers!"

--Marvin Jacinto, July 1991

Very cool post. Thanks! I am not a horsewoman, but my brother rides, and I sent this to him. My Uncle Teddy from Texas is long gone now, but he was a cattle driver at some point in his youth and had a lot of ride trophies and relics. it's great to see a continued tradition.
posted by Miko at 8:00 AM on October 24, 2007

Not to be confused with the Western States 100 Mile Run, which is an endurance running event over the same terrain (though I'm not sure if the courses are identical).

On preview: just noticied that phoodz mentioned this in passing in his post.
posted by mosk at 10:40 AM on October 24, 2007

I'm not sure if it's the same course, but it looks like both races are organized by the same people. I'd actually be really curious -- a lot of the places marked on the Tevis Cup course look familiar from WSER race reports.
posted by ph00dz at 11:02 AM on October 24, 2007

A moment's silence for the great Remington Steele, who died in February this year. Rem was a halter champion who completed the Tevis - a very rare combination of qualities.

And mad props to my friend Michael Bowling of New Albion Stud, who bred the 2000 winner Benjih.

One day, I swear...
posted by rdc at 11:55 AM on October 24, 2007

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