In which the ultimate vacation destination is Auburn, Cal.
over the famous rocky scramble at Cougar Rock, and finishing 100 miles away at the fairgrounds in Auburn, covering approximately 17,040 feet of uphill climbing and 21,970 feet of descent.
(For comparison, Mount Rainier is measured at 14,410 above sea level).
As with all sanctioned endurance rides, there are vet checks along the trail, and Tevis veterinarians don't mess around: completion rate for the ride is about 50%. (For comparison, the completion rate for 2009 endurance rides in the Northwest region was around 88%.)
As one vet told me, "There's nothing further down the Tevis trail that will make a tired horse less tired, a hungry horse less hungry, or a lame horse less lame."
This Saturday, as I have for many years, I'll be cheering Tevis horses and riders from a distance. Here's the list of riders I'll be watching via the Tevis Webcast (I'll try not to forget anybody, but no promises--there are nearly 200 teams signed up for the start!) Some are Swampland region riders, others are blog friends.
#67 Molly Farkus and Duffy
#110 Paul Latiolais and Pete
#149 Trina Romo and Cecily G (I don't know this horse or rider, but Cissy is the only registered Standardbred in the race...and I love that she's named for a giraffe in the Curious George books!)
This ride is rocky, it's cold, it's hot, it's strenuous, and it's really freakin' hard. If you finish, you earn the right to wear a silver Tevis buckle.
So, why do so many endurance riders do this crazy event? Why is Tevis on my Life List? (Some day I will do this ride!)
Why would anybody pay money to participate in something so difficult?
Louis Armstrong said it right when he was asked to define jazz music.
"Man," he said, "If you got to ask the question, you won't ever understand the answer."