My dad has always said that it is better to come in 3rd than 2nd. In his mind the 2nd place person looks over at that winner standing tall on the podium (this always comes up in the family during the Olympics) knowing that they were 0.05 seconds behind being there themselves. While they are thrilled to be in 2nd they can taste that first place spot. The 3rd place person, however, is just thrilled to have managed a spot on the podium at all and can look at those he/she beat out and be happy.
It is an interesting point of view and one I will most likely never be in the position to test.
Gem and I came in 7th place out of 29 teams. They give out ribbons to the top 6. I'm happy we did as well as we did since it was a pretty big field and Gem was a little pokey.
What is disappointing is that we were 16 minutes slow! Having been on those trails dozens of times, I can honestly say I don't know where the pacer picked up 16 whole minutes. The only spot s we walked at all were the short downhill sections that were steep, leaf covered and twisty. The one area I know we lost time was the gravel access road.
I had asked Gem to trot but she took a very funny step and felt off immediately. I brought her back to a walk and let her hug the grassy side and paid close attention to the footing after that. I guess the month off hanging in her pasture has let her feet give a little because a month ago she would have powered down the gravel without hesitation. The gravel petered out about half way down and I opened her up to canter to both make up time and see how she was moving. She did fine until the gravel began again so we walked until the trail ducked back onto the dirt wood floor.
Even with that I don't think we lost 16 minutes. I wish I knew who the pace rider was and what horse they were riding. Gemmie was drenched in sweat by the end and even had I known the optimal time going in I wouldn't have pushed her more than I did. I should clip her for these winter events, but then that would mean having to blanket and I hate blanketing. I would rather go slower and take longer to cool out than clip and blanket.
Whatever the reason for us being that far off pace it was a lot of fun and I wish I could go to more of them. Honestly I like the paces a little more than endurance *gasp* right now in my life. They are all within a 2 hour drive, occur every other weekend from Sept-May, cost between $35-45 with lunch included and take up only 2 hours of my time. With my son getting older and more interactive yet not old enough to camp or participate these fit in much better and take me away for less time.
I still plan to do endurance as well with my next 50 options being Feb or April. Will have to see how winter conditioning goes, weather forecasts come in and time allows.