Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sean's Epic Ride and Tie

This past weekend while I was in Duluth tearing up the marathon course Sean trekked north to Humboldt, CA for the Ride and Tie World Championship. Two runners, one horse and 35 miles of hilly trails! Unfortunately for Sean and his partner, their horse Iron Wyll was pulled at the second vet check but Sean didn't find out until he was already on Mile 30 and so to get back to camp he finished running the last 5 miles. Apparently he only rode Wyll for a total of 1 minute and thus this qualifies as Sean's first Ultra run too. Here is his account of the race as told to fellow competitor and Ride & Tie legend Mark Richtman:

Sean riding Iron Wyll
Well, I had a lot of fun out there, horse or no horse.  Let's see -- we started together, and you led out the pack.  After what, half a mile, I took the lead.  The next thing I knew you were flying by on a fury rocket of a horse.  I saw you again one switchback ahead of me going down the first hill -- I passed Jim going down that hill but never caught you.  Wyll was waiting for me at the bottom there, and I trotted through camp and caught John on that single track just on the other side of camp.  I got to ride three more times after that: one short stint on the flat section between the two first hills, for a little bit going up that second hill, and finally for that last mile before the first vet check.  You passed me going the other way in the river, so you must have been 3 or 4 minutes ahead of me.  John passed me going the other way in the river too, so I think we timed that exchange pretty well.

Pre-race meeting and strategizing

Horse and people camp

Geared up and ready
That second loop was really beautiful and the running conditions were perfect.  I ran up the hill, passed first by Jim's daughter and then by Mary.  John never caught me, which certainly made me nervous.  I slowed down to an easy jog (on purpose, not from fatigue) through the last two miles of single track hoping he'd catch up, but he never did.  I ended up waiting at the entrance to the vet check for at least 10 minutes.  Just as we were about to send a rescue party, there he comes trotting slowly down the trail.  I take him and walk him into the vet check, then head out onto the third loop.  I was definitely tired going up that hill, and had to walk a few times.  I saw Mary trying to find the easy boot, but couldn't help her.  Up and up and up, then across the ridge, until the guy in the truck at mile 30 told me that Wyll had been pulled.  So, I just kept on chugging, and saw Mary one more time on the last two mile stretch again fiddling with the easy boot.  I'm really sorry that happened, what a bummer.  

A Team with great socks

Sean leading Wyll into the vet check

Mark and another runner
I had a wedding to go to which started at 3:30, so I couldn't stick around to chat as I was already obscenely late.  Anyway, I really had fun and next time I hope we have a more even race.  

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