Employees at Echo Valley Ranch Supply Store in Auburn sport orange shirts with “Tevis riding out of the ashes” written on the back.
The 100-mile horseback endurance ride known as Tevis Cup is literally back from the ash and smoke of wildfires that forced the cancellation of the ride in 2008. With its return comes more than 170 riders from places like Maryland, Canada and Japan, as well as the business swell at local supply stores like Echo Valley.
This Saturday’s ride, as it has for more than 50 years, takes riders from Robie Park, south of Truckee, through scorching canyons and over mountain passes to the finish at the Auburn Overlook.
“It’s the first and granddaddy of all endurance rides,” said Elise Travers of Echo Valley, who competed as a junior rider at Tevis in 2007.
Preparing and riding
Outside of its old age, the Tevis Cup is the “granddaddy” because of the challenges it dishes out.
Travers says that even qualifying to ride is no easy task. Prospective riders must log more than 300 “race” miles in the previous year to be accepted to Tevis. And those race miles have to be in races of 50 miles or longer. Throw those races on your resume, and you’re in.
But once the ride starts, the even tougher aspects for horse and rider kick in.
“Usually, it’s about a 50-50 chance that you make it through (the ride),” Travers explained. “If people ask if you’re doing Tevis, you say ‘we’ll see’ because you don’t know if you’ll finish.”
Penny Coey, who volunteers at the race every year, explained the obstacles the riders and horses have to overcome. She said things as simple as a bee sting, or a scratch from a manzanita bush could force a rider to quit.
Riders have to make sure their horses (and themselves) are fueled up and healthy. Electrolyte pills for energy and probiotics (like yogurt) to keep the horse’s digestion moving are a must, according to Coey. Much like the Western States endurance run, riders must stop at checkpoints, where veterinarians check the horses for any injuries or breathing troubles.
Travers said keeping herself energized on the ride is equally important.
“I wear a Camelbak for water,” she said. “The canyons get so hot, especially at the bottom.”
Travers said it was a relief when she got to the finish in 2007. Most riders finish well after midnight.
“It’s so exciting to be at the finish line, and see them come in,” Coey said.
Echo Valley Ranch has been sponsoring the ride for 19 years, and also receives plenty of business from Tevis riders coming through town.
Owner Greg Kimler said his store supplies just about everything Tevis horses might need, from grains to equipment.
“We sent out 60 bales of hay, just for Tevis,” he said Tuesday.
He said he also sponsors a team that competes in the ride, known as the Midnight Riders.
The Tevis Cup is naturally included in the “Endurance Capital” tag that Auburn claims, but Kimler said it doesn’t receive quite as much attention as other events like the Western States Endurance Run.
“The city and newspaper promotes the Western States run more, but it’s because the (horse) riders don’t bring as many people to town,” he said.
Kimler explained that the riders tend to stay at local ranches, places where they can keep their horses in the days leading up to the ride. This makes for less of an economic impact on things like hotels and restaurants, businesses that see an up-tick when teams for the endurance run come to Auburn.
The two 100-mile endurance events coexist well, however. Auburn Running Company donates water bottles and helps supply electrolyte replacement products for the riders.
Who: 170 riders
What: Tevis Cup, a 100 mile horseback ride on trails from Truckee to Auburn.
When: This Saturday, August 1. Riders will start coming in late Saturday night.
Where to watch: Riders finish at the Auburn Overlook, near the fairgrounds.
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