Saturday, July 09, 2005

Helenans set to run and ride in Libby



By JENNIFER PENTON - IR Sports Writer - 07/09/05

Two runners, a horse and a 35 mile championship trail race through the Kootenai National Forest is just a few of the challenges to capturing the 25th Ride and Tie World Championship.

After only training with partners for two days, Becky Convery will attempt her first Ride and Tie.

"It is a great challenge," Convery said. "I will try it out and I hope to have fun."

The eventnn which is comprised of trail running, endurance ridding and strategynn will be held today, beginning at 9 a.m. near Libby.

Convery, from Helena, is a novice horse rider, but excels in running half-marathons and trail races.


Michelle Richardson, from Helena, will also be competing in the championship for her first time. Richards' partner, Pat Browning, is an experienced Ride and Tie rider from California.

Convery said she found out about the Ride and Tie through a Montana road race calendar and researched the event from there.

"When I went to the web site to see what it was all about I was immediately hooked," Convery said.

Convery said she was introduced to her partner, Janet Dodd from Spokane, Wash., through the Ride and Tie Association. Convery and Dodd met and trained last weekend for two days. The training was the only time the two would be able to strategize and prepare for the championships.

Convery then traveled to Libby on Thursday to attend pre-race events and make final preparations with Dodd.

"We have similar running abilities and will try to split the running throughout the race," Convery said. "We are not sure of a strategy other than to do the 35 mile race."

The Ride and Tie is not a new sport though it is not widely known. The organization has been in existence since 1971 to promote combined running and equine endurance. The goal of the Ride and Tie is to get all three team membersnn two humans and a horsenn across a cross-country course by alternating riding and running. The partners switch ridding the horse throughout the race while the other runner runs beside on the trail.

Teams will be traveling from Virginia, North Carolina and Californiann where the sport began. Several teams have also entered from Canada to compete for the championships.

Though it would seem as though there would be pre-qualifying for the world championships, Convery said there is no experience necessary to compete in the event.

According to a press release from Carol Ruprecht with the Ride and Tie Association, anyone is welcome to compete in the championship and the event is open to novice competitors.

"There is quite a mix of competitors," Convery said. "Some have been competing for 30 years and some are new."

Convery said she ran in the Helena Governor's Cup in May and since then has been running about three miles a few times each week to prepare for the Ride and Tie.

"Training is sporadic and short," Convery said. "I run a couple a days a week and my biggest distance training has been competing in half-marathons.

"If it was not for the training in the Governor's Cup I would not be able to compete (in the Ride and Tie."

The biggest challenge for Convery will be riding Rio, Dodd's horse.

"I am an intermediate runner, but I have not ridden in 20 years," Convery said. "I have basic ridding skills."

Rio will also be competing is his first Ride and Tie. Dodd has spent the past few weeks training Rio to follow instructions and riding long distances.

Dodd has also been working with Rio to prevent being spooked.

"The most difficult thing is to have the horse tired and spooked," Convery said. "Janet has been working on having someone follow behind Rio to prevent spooking."

Convery said she has always been interested in horses, but has not much of an opportunity to ride.

"I would like to have horses eventually and the Ride and Tie sounds like a great sport to incorporate some ridding."

There will be prize money awarded to the top team in each category as well as an overall first place win by a pro-am team.

A custom made eight pound horse saddle will also be awarded by a special drawing.

The event will be videotaped for Horse-TV to be aired on a special broadcast at a later date.

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