100-Mile Musings

I don’t spend a ton of time on Facebook discussion groups, endurance-related or otherwise. I tend to “lurk” — I read and pay attention, but don’t often chime in, mostly because I’ve always tended to keep a fairly low public profile and social media, and use it more for direct interaction with friends and people I know. But I digress. Long story short, a thread on one of the endurance groups popped up in my newsfeed this afternoon and caught my attention.

The gist of the topic? What is stopping people from doing 100s?

Good question. Wish I knew the answer. Especially because I could probably be the poster child for a skeptical eyebrow raise of “Why do you keep doing this?” with all of the ups and downs I’ve experienced along the way. Maybe I’m just a slow learner, because I still have a love affair with wanting to try 100s. I got into endurance with the specific wish and desire to do 100s. Especially Tevis, but all of the 100s (particularly the “buckle” 100s) have appeal to me and are on my “I hope I don’t have to wait until the unforeseeable future to get to do them” list. With my current set-up as a catch-rider, the 100-mile goal becomes that much more elusive, but it doesn’t stop me from hoping/wishing/scheming.

Virginia City…my #1 “must return” 100-miler…because where else do you start in the dark in front of a saloon? And 76 miles gave me a serious taste of, “oh, so close.”

Both of my 100 attempts have just left me wanting a finish (at those rides, and at any 100, really) that much more. Pulls at 50s and LDs tend to bum me out, and yes, while I really  wanted finishes at the 100s, I feel like even starting those rides was an accomplishment.

Just like there’s a phrase about “horses who can do 100 miles” and “100-mile horses,” I think the same probably applies to people. There are people who can and will do 100s…and others who eat/sleep/breathe 100s. Although I haven’t completed one yet, I’m pretty sure I fall in the latter category. It’s difficult to describe why, or the personal appeal. I do this sport for fun, and there are elements of 100s that are most definitely not always fun. But I guess for me, those times when you think, “this is stupid” or “what was I thinking?” are outweighed by the satisfaction of conquering and accomplishing something supremely challenging.

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I got to see the start banner from more than just the window of the crew vehicle…so I at least got my “Tevis start” experience under my belt. Now I need the buckle ON my belt.

Besides, there is something magical that happens after 50 miles. I have absolutely loved starting in the dark, and being out riding in the dark. There’s a bit of a dichotomy that occurs…a desire to get as far down the trail as possible before losing the light…but also a part of me that wants to linger, to not be in too much of a rush and miss that opportunity to be out, watching as the stars appear.

Even when riding with other people, there’s a connection that happens between you and the horse in the dark. They can see — you can’t. You have to be willing to put a lot of faith and trust in their hooves to carry you through that trail safely…and I can tell you from experience, you feel pretty darn bonded to the horse after that.

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On the trail at dusk, racing the fading light.

I don’t really know where I was necessarily going with all of that, aside from my own random musings, and if it really had a point other than to illustrate that I really think those people who want to do 100s will find a way to make it happen (eventually, one way or another), and those that really don’t find it their particular cup of tea won’t. That is one of the benefits of endurance in that if does offer so many options…I just hope there are enough people that like and continue to like and support 100s to keep them around long enough for me to jump in and participate more as the opportunity arises.

4 thoughts on “100-Mile Musings

  1. There is something special about the 100 mile distance that you can’t replicate in the shorter rides. After I had my completion had I kept doing endurance with Gem I had no intentions of any other distance with her.

    The thing that gets me though with all the discussions on distances that turn ugly quickly is that in endurance the 100 mile distance is the top. The elite. The pinnacle that by very definition is not attainable to every horse, rider. It’s the top of the pyramid. For many reasons that is the exact way it should be. The vast majority in the sport won’t make it and that is fine. It’s good in fact. The shorter distances are the base and they are the ones pouring the most money into the sport. They can attend more rides because the downtime between is shortening. Instead of a 100 rider going to two maybe three a season, those who do 25s sometimes go to every single ride because they are cheaper, require less down time and they are packed up and headed home same day. It’s the same in eventing. The vast majority stay below prelim. And that’s fine. It’s the base of support that allows the sport to thrive.

    Anyway. That’s my soapbox. I love 100s, it makes me sad when rides are canceled due to lack of interest or ability but the distance won’t ever be as popular as the shorter ones

  2. I have only completed one 100 (the catch riding thing really is a huge factor) but I too fall into that latter category. Reading this makes me want to be riding in the dark RIGHT NOW. There is definitely something magical about a hundred that no other horse sport comes close to touching. And you’re right, even starting one is an accomplishment. The moment I crossed that starting line in Maine was the moment I finally felt like a real endurance rider. SO much can happen in 24 hours, and you just know that no matter how it ends, it’s going to be epic.

    Come to the east coast… I bet I can find you a 100 mile horse to ride! (DO OLD DOMINION, I’LL CREW!!!)

    • Old Dominion is absolutely on my bucket list! I would love to someday be in a position to offer a horse exchange — Tevis ride for an OD ride — but I would not turn down any catch ride offers made in the meantime, either.

Thanks for reading! Comments are always welcome!

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