So like usual, Linda and I decided to do the 6 mile Ride and Tie. We both love the way the RNT is managed at this ride – it is put on BEFORE any other rides. This means that everyone goes out at the exact same time – a staggered start makes it difficult to run competitively… and I like being pushed a bit more. This one wasn’t so much about being competitive, but I really wanted to streamline our strategy by doing lots of changes, and running instead of walking for as much as possible. I really wanted to cut out just a tiny bit of time.
Linda wanted to switch at a mile and a half, which is the usual plan, I wasn’t so keen on the idea, suggesting it should be closer to the mile mark, but she really wanted me to ride into the vet check. Arggg, I don’t want to run that extra half mile so much. Will have to test out my strategy at another time!
So we start out, and I am first across the start line… I think I was paying the most attention really. I put my earphones in and ran off, letting the horses pass by me. There goes Linda, There goes Jess (who also sponsored us), there goes Laura and Sheila, but where is Bentley? Oh hes bringing up the rear! I was a little nervous because I didn’t want him and Lindsay to get separated from Linda and Jess, but I had confidence that they would sort themselves out once the trail opened up to 2x width again.
I ran alongside Rob for a bit, around a mile or so. We walked up the hills, and ran down them. He got a bit ahead of me on the first downhill, but I caught up and passed on the flat where I was able to stay consistent and not slow down. I think that was the last I saw of the runners (except when passing on 2-track trail). After that first mile though, I was feeling pretty awful and severely regretted my gigantic breakfast (actually it was puny, but it felt huge in my tummy when running!). I had a hard time getting through that next half mile to the horse… but she wasnt there! Yikes! Thankfully, she was only another quarter mile away and it seemed to go much easier than the previous mile and a half. Perhaps it was a good song on my MP3 player psyching me up or something.
And there they all were waiting for me, I was quick to untie the Dragon (Sable) and mounted up, trotted away. Linda had lowered the stirrups and was quite comfortable and Sable felt awesome, much better than any of the other times I rode her and not feeling like a jockey helped a lot! A few times I almost lost Jess and Lindsay because we were doing an easy 12mph trot. Lindsay later told me that Bentley was giving her his dressage trot, and going down the trail in frame the whole time! Oops, I should have told her he can mostly be trusted on a loose rein. We passed Linda at what was an impressive distance up the trail, of course we were all cheering for her! It did however feel like a long way to the vet check where I was to tie, and several times I doubted the plan and wanted to tie, but at that point it would have been too late and we would have wasted time in the vet check. So we pulled into camp, I tied, and ran off.
I saw several other runners and horses passing by on the 2-way trail, but no Linda. I kept going and going, and still no Linda. Of course, I was getting worried that I would find her fallen in the forest or something, but eventually I ran past where I thought it was we passed her before (still 2 track trail… I am not THAT fast) and figured I must have just missed her on my way out as right by the beginning/end, there is a place where the 2 track separates. So really she was closer behind the horse than I thought!
So therefore she should be coming up any moment behind me right? I will have a break soon? I heard hoof beats behind me and turn around to see a pretty bay horse… with purple? Oh, its Laura (who was riding mileage) She was shocked how far I was and trotted along with me for a little bit, giving me lots of encouragement. Eventually they went by and I continued on, finding some good songs on my playlist and really starting to run a bit better. The miles were disappearing quickly, and soon my GPS told me I was at 5/6 miles. Uhh? Wheres my partner? What happened to the “lets switch a lot on loop 2” plan? Am I still on the correct trail? Soon after, to my relief, she DID pass me, I told her to go on a half mile and tie, then run into the finish line. She yelled something back about the sponsors being just behind her. So I expected to hear some more hooves coming up behind, but none came. What happened? Where is everyone?
We came into the last half mile and Linda left Sable in the clearing without a sponsor and we were close enough I could watch her run off. Sable tried to run after her and looked pretty concerned about the whole thing. I was calling to her “don’t worry Sable, I am coming, let her go!” as Linda disappeared back into the forest. Of course, I was not Sable’s top choice, and she still wanted to go after her, even as I tried to mount the moving horse. I got up ok despite a little frustration, and trotted up, meeting Linda in the next clearing. We agreed that I would get off as I was not a quarter mile from the finish, and we would run home together, me leading the way on foot with my renewed energy. Once again, we crossed the finish line together despite the plan not really working. Oh but where are the sponsors?
They burst through the trees just a minute or 2 later much to my relief, Lindsay looking pretty tired but pretty much unscathed. I moved back and forth between Sable and Bentley making sure everyone got untacked, had their cards, got a drink etc in a matter of minutes.
After it was all done, I learned of the others trail stories. I already mentioned that Bentley was doing trail dressage all of loop 1, and they got a little behind. They still came into the vet check with me. When Linda came in and vetted, there was a bit of confusion when her horse was no longer tied… no worry! Solstice had decided to be our crew, and graciously took Sable and cooled her while waiting for Linda. I didn’t know this was allowed, but it is and was so wonderful for her to do! A great surprise. Then after the vetting, Linda almost missed crossing the starting line again, as its tempting to leave from the vetting area due to the layout of everything. Bentley was still being vetted but she assumed they would catch up, and it doesn’t make sense for the competitor to wait for the sponsor!
I guess there was some confusion regarding Bentley’s card because he was a sponsor horse… I think Lindsay said the officials weren’t sure if they had to write down a time because he wasn’t a competitor. So that lost a little bit of time. Then, she had Phyllis hold Bentley by a mounting block, and before she had her feet in the stirrups, Bentley bolted towards the portapotties – no reins, no stirrups. Thankfully Lindsay is a great rider and stayed with him, and spoke to him asking him to woah and walk instead of trying to grab and pull. So they didn’t go far. She had thought she maybe landed too hard when mounting, but Solstice told us that he spooked at another group of RNT horses as they burst out of the bushes. So of course, after that, they started a little slow to get Lindsay’s heart back in her chest! Jess must have watched the whole thing, because she patiently waited for them.
Then they worked on getting faster and faster through the loop, Jess encouraged Lindsay and eventually they worked up to 7mph. As I said, they finished shortly after us, so they must have made good time later in the loop, and nobody seemed upset anymore. Lindsay was just very hot and tired… its harder than most people think! And going from schoolies to Bentley and slow to speed is quite different.
The results of the ride? Linda and I won, with my goal met of beating our previous times. We finished the 6 miles in 1 hour and 2 minutes (4 minutes better than our previous record). Bentley and Earl got some more miles, and Lindsay successfully completed her first ride!
Here is my GPS map/stats from the RNT (you can generally tell when I am riding vs when I am running since running I am betwee 3mph and 7mph, riding typically over 8mph) The time is a little longer than our official time because I always forget to stop it when I cross the finish line… cooling the horse comes first!