Have you ever heard of the Tevis Cup? If not, it is an endurance race unlike any other, and it requires riders and their crew to be made of the toughest stuff.
So how did I become an accidental crew member? Normally Performa Ride goes to trade events that are indoors, static (trade stays in the same place), and require just one set up and pack up. Well, the Tevis endurance ride is a little different for traders, as you can choose to set up in multiple spots across multiple days.
The Tevis Cup endurance ride is a 100 mile (160km) ride that runs point to point, where most endurance rides run their 160kms in ‘loops’. For example, the Tom Quilty endurance race is a ‘loop’ race, where riders come back to the crew area at the end of each loop. The Tevis requires crews to move along the ride and beat their rider to the next pit stop.
Not only crews, but vendors who trade also do this. First stop – rider registration set up which is about a 2 hour drive from the finish line.
Race day is the really crazy day though! As we were staying with amazing endurance friends, we were in it for the good and the bad (and the exhausting). So that the crew got a good spot for their rider, we had to be up at 2am (read: absolute madness). Crews travel to Robinsons flat (some in the dark like us) to be the first in line to get the best crew spot.
When the gates open to the crew area we leapt from our car with gear in hand and pounced on the perfect spot. The hours afterwards, we set up a mini camp, pumped water from a well, laid out new rider clothing, and made a buffet of horse feed in anticipation of our rider arrival.
All crews walk along the incoming trail to meet their horse and rider, and given the heat, saddles are removed straight away and sponging and feeding begins. We heard that some of the water troughs on track were low/empty, so we set back to camp to carry more water up the hill to meet our rider, who came in looking fresh and well!
The mandatory 1 hour stop at Robinsons flat consists of vetting, clothing changes, new saddle cloths and boots, and a smorgasbord of horse (and rider) feed. As the 1 hour mark approaches and the riders set off, it is a hurried pack up for the crews who have to get all their gear back to their car, which can be up to a few kms away.
There are 2 other stops for crews on this race, so this is repeated somewhat along the race, where crews set up to wait for their riders. Once the last pit stop is completed, it is pack up and wait for the rider to bring it home!
It sounds crazy, but the Tevis is incredibly taxing on riders, and probably more so on their crews. Seeing how many people it takes to keep a horse and rider on track is incredible, and the dedication shown by those crews is unbelievable. We have the utmost respect for riders that attempt this ride, and more so we think all of their crews are absolute legends.