My horse Bender and I just completed our first 50 miler! Kootenai Classic, near Libby, Montana. I am so proud of my pony :-) I doubt if I would have completed the ride in time if a new friend had not let me ride with her. It's amazing how much you have to trot even to make the max time. Mary has done a number of 50's but is bringing along a new horse this year. We got along well and so did our horses, and took turns pulling each other along :-) She thinks it's hysterical that I just laugh like a hyena every time my silly horse spooks and I end up on his neck :-D She's used to seeing people cuss at and beat on their horses for spooking. Heck I think my horse does it just to check if I'm still awake up there. I came close to falling off three times I think. She has a whopping bruise on one calf from a humungous sideways leap her horse did, that she was barely able to hang on from! Damn crazy Ay-rabs, gotta love 'em, wouldn't ride anything else!
There were only three loops -- 16, 24 (!) and then 10 miles with a 45 minute hold after the first loop and an hour after the second. There were some stiff climbs but a lot of relatively flat areas and gradual elevation changes too. A SlimFast shake made a nourishing breakfast that didn't have to be gagged down. I didn't eat or drink enough myself on the trail, I did suck down a quart of water and human electrolyte drinks at the holds and on the last short loop I forced myself to drink a quart as we went, so I was fairly well rehydrated by the time we were done. PBJ sandwich at the first hold, a Clif Bar on the second loop and another SlimFast on the second hold. It was damned hot, around 90. The horses started drinking well on the second loop and kept well hydrated til the end, and of course we e-lyted them at the holds as well as before and after the ride. We tried to let them graze as much as possible on the second and third loops. I got off and jogged on some of the steeper downhills. Mary's coworker Chris came to crew and it was SO nice to have her, and Mary's husband, graze and sponge the horses while we just rested on the holds.
Bender was pretty tired on the last loop but still going willingly. The vet commented favorably on his impulsion. He hadn't eaten as much as he should and so didn't get good vet marks for gut sounds, but everything else was all A's. He ate nonstop after the ride, he is just a little nervous in camp and during the first half of the ride, and has to learn to take care of himself better. He gets this week off to recuperate, and is eating steadily out in the pasture.
We finished with only 20 minutes to spare, of course we were the last ones in. Started at 6:30am, finished at 6:10pm. Some people act like you should come in way earlier than the max time. If so, then why do they allow 12 hours to complete? Our vet cards didn't even get to the manager so we weren't announced as finishers until we stood up and said HEY!
At the potluck I made up for not eating much during the day by snarfing down two plates of food :-D Mary made fun of me for that, of course she's slim and eats like a bird! I even stayed up til 10:00pm, but then slept like the dead til morning :-)
I won't say it was easy, but it was not as hard as I thought it would be. Funny, but I was more tired during the first half of the ride... the second half, I felt much more energetic. Of course I was tired and sore at the end, but I felt I could easily have ridden more. I am only minorly stiff and sore today, I have hurt much worse than this on shorter distances and/or doing other activities (for example, walking the local full 26.2 mile marathon last year, and hiking to the summit of the South Sister in Oregon). I did seem to overstress a tendon (?? I don't know anatomy very well) just below the back of one knee. It felt like I was getting a cramp that never really materialized. It's swollen back there but only painful if I press it. Also got a couple of swollen bruises from where parts of the saddle were rubbing on one calf, I will have to pad or otherwise fix that part. That really hurt the first loop and I was wondering how I'd get through the day, but it didn't hurt as much when we set out again.
I have no more AERC rides scheduled for us to do this year -- I decided I will not be going to the multi-day in southern Idaho, I have used up too many vacation days going to other rides. There is one ride that falls on my long weekend in October, in Washington, I may get to.
All in all a nice experience and I'm just thrilled to have been able to complete :-)