Monday, October 10, 2016

South Africa: Sandymount Express 1000
: The final day, and the day after - Devan Horn

October 9 2016

All 9 riders complete the Sandymount Express 1000

I woke up the morning of the final day secure in the knowledge that I would have an easy finish. My legs felt awesome, I was full of energy, and very confident. Starting out on the first loop, we were all full of cheer and high spirits.

And then the storm came.

The cloud cover gave a respite from the Fauresmith Sun (like the Tevis Moon, just less charming), but the wind was something primal. So hard and fast I couldn't breathe, a relentless headwind that made Every. Single. Stride. A fight. Every inch of forward progress was a victory. Rain. Lightning. Dust twisters. Definitely qualifies as the hardest day.

But my horses and I were harder. Fairlane, fresh and strong, Aviatrix, completing her 240th kilometer, ears pinned to her neck and nose snarled shut, and especially Brio who handled the worst of it with his striking long trot, cutting a straight line through the storm and getting me to the finish.

As soon as I crossed, and the tears and champagne hit the dirt, I learned that Lize had vetted out on her last loop and had to do an extra 40 in these conditions. As Tines had done for me on my very first day, all 8 riders loaded up in the back of a truck to cheer her home. The din when she crossed the line is hard to imagine. We mobbed the vet at the end, teasingly daring him to vet her out a second time. But her horse looked fantastic, and the Sandymont was officially at an end.

For my team, the kilometer breakdown was:

Aviatrix: 250 K

Hidalgo: 170 K

Zara: 170 K

Brio: 170 K 

Fairlane: 120 K

Coco: 80 K

Sunita: 40 K

Cowboy: 40 K (vet out)

As you can tell, I had the privilege of riding amazing horses this week. I want to thank Donnie, Jackie, Wessel, and especially Rykie for letting me ride their horses on this adventure.

I also want to thank Jaco and Rykie for their help during the race. They were my support team, helpers, grooms, and family. Along with Elias, Beeerkjie, and Joseph, they kept me moving to the finish line all week. To Leon and Engela to opening their home to me while I attempted this ride.

Thank you to my fellow riders, all 8 of you were amazing, not a single one of us quit or retired, and it was an absolute privilege to ride with you. It was tough, beautiful, and wild all in one. We've done this, we can do anything.

Thank you to my sponsors, Hammer Nutrition and Tropical Riders, both of which supplied product that I couldn't have gotten through without.

A big, huge thank you to the South African endurance community in general. I came here solo, with no family or support team, and you made me feel welcome and became my support.

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