A Test of Endurance

This morning I had the pleasure of manning a checkpoint at the local Endurance Ride.

I have only ridden one endurance ride – just a 20km social ride – and then did the Blackwood Marathon ride – but then kinda stopped riding my horse with any purpose or intent.

I also pretty much stopped hanging out with horsey people, too.

I think that was because I kinda felt guilty for not riding…

But anyway, KR was organising the local WAERA endurance ride again this year, and I don’t know why, but I said, “yeah, call me, I will do something” and she DID!

And so I DID!

Now, there were four groups of riders, grouped by distances to be ridden – 120km, 80km, 40km and 20km – and the 120s started at 5:30am!

Thankfully, KR did NOT ask me to be on a checkpoint that early in the morning! 🙂

I came in at 7:30am and was at Checkpoint 6 – the last checkpoint before base camp on that loop.

So, I got my instructions, my equipment, my radio.

… I got set up.

Getting Set Up

… and then I waited.

… and I did some planning for the week.

… and sat around for almost two hours before I saw a rider.


Now, did I mention that this checkpoint had the good fortune of seeing EVERY rider come through?

This was both good and bad – though mostly good.

But, because I had never manned a check point before – only having gone through one during my only endurance ride experience many many moons ago – I was super grateful to have KR there for the first load of riders, because we had 20s and 120s and 40s all come through at once.

As soon as we saw the first horse, there were suddenly horses coming from every direction!

Well, okay, technically they were only coming from two directions, but that’s not the point! 🙂

There was a steady stream of 5+horses at a time for the first 30-50 minutes, and if it weren’t for KR, I would not have managed to keep track of times and served everyone there properly. One group would come in, and only a minute later, the next would roll, in and so it went for the first little while.

I also learned my lesson about where to set up the ute, because the human food and water was WAY too far away from the horse water, and I was running back and forth like a crazy person.

You are parked too far away!

I probably would have clocked a few ks doing all that running about!

KR headed back to base camp once the initial rush was over, and I got into a steady rhythm with meeting riders, clocking their time, getting them water, lollies, biscuits or carrots for the horses, and then radioing back to base camp with the stats.

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The lady on base camp was AMAZING because she caught two of my errors very quickly – I recorded rider 75 twice, but it was actually 75 and 85, but it was during that first busy period when there was about 6 riders coming through right on the tail of another 4, so I got mixed up writing down numbers.

And later in the day, I wrote down 79 instead of 76, but she caught that straight away, too, because 79 had just passed through checkpoint 4 and definitely could not have been at mine within 2 minutes.

Thank goodness someone was on the ball down there!

Between 9:30am and 12:30pm, when I left the station, 61 horses came through, and there were 21 riders still to come.

I helped my relief set up and greeted three riders with her and then headed off to my next appointment.

I would have stayed to the end, but I had made other commitments…

It had been a clear and bright and brisk day, and though the wind was often bitterly cold, I was really enjoying my time and meeting all the riders. Although you only have a few minutes with most of them – some are just in for a drink and off again, while most will linger for a few minutes, let their horse eat and drink – all were bright and cherry and so happy to be out there.

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It was really a pleasure to do it and to meet all those amazing people and their horses.

I surprise myself these days – volunteering isn’t something I ever did a lot of, but the last few times I’ve done it I’ve been really rewarded. Is it the age I am, or am I just realising that being less selfish is a good thing!?

At any rate, I think the volunteer effort that goes into organising events like this endurance ride, or rogaines, are amazing. There are paid events that don’t run as smoothly. I guess it’s a question of passion and energy and that’s part of why people choose to volunteer!

Are you a volunteer? What kinds of events do you support and help make happen in your community?


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