Lexington, KY - Taking place across the rugged terrain of California's Cascade Mountains, the 2011 North American Endurance Team Challenge drew 10 teams from the U.S. and Canada race for medals. In addition, five individuals representing four countries vied for individual honors.
Finishing in a combined time of 31:07:13, Mountain A took the Team Gold medal. Doug Swingley aboard Pal of Mine lead the team effort, riding into three of five vet checks in the lead, he finished in a time of 8:55:54. Also across the finish line for Mountain A was Suzanne Hayes with Greenbriar Al Jabal and Suzanne Hedgecock with Aireagle; teammate Christoph Schork was eliminated at gate four.
"I was riding a fairly young horse, he was only an 8-year-old and was only his second hundred (mile race)," said Hayes. "I wanted to test him a little bit - which we did. He shows a lot of promise as far as increasing his speed in the future. The Mountain Zone worked really well as a team. Everyone that was on the team worked really well together to solidify our performance as the gold medal team... The course was very well suited for us. We live in Montana - we train in the mountains, we are well suited for that."
Taking the Team Silver was Northeast-North. The team completed the course within seconds of each other for an overall time of 33:57:29. Kyle Gibbon and Soho, Steve Rojek and Beaujolais, and Gene Limlaw and Con La Garcia were the team's counted times as Kathy Brunjes and Frontier Random were eliminated at the finish.
The Northeast proved to be a dominate zone, as their second team, Northeast-East, captured the Bronze medal in 35:53:31. Leading the team was individual Silver medalist Meg Sleeper, who blazed to the finish in 8:17:34 with her own Syrocco Reveille. Sleeper was followed by teammates Lisa Green with LR Amana Tabi and Holly Corcoran with DJB Santanas Chief. Melody Blittersdorf was eliminated at gate three.
The Individual medals were determined by a race to the finish line as Jeremy Reynolds (Pacific South) and A Kutt Above outran Meg Sleeper and Syrocco Reveille by a mere second to take the Gold in 8:17:33. Becky Hart with No Repeat, riding as an individual for Pacific South, took the Bronze medal in 8:38:30. No Repeat also earned the coveted Best Conditioned Horse award.
More information is available here: http://patriotsdayride.com/PATRIOTS_DAY_RIDE/2011_N.A.E.T.C..html
Photo: Mountain Zone (Photo: Melinda Cassol)