September 23, 2015

Run for the Horses 50

 Last Saturday was my favorite SE ride: Run for the Horses at Biltmore. While the May Biltmore ride gets a lot press due to being co sanctioned with FEI, this September event tends to be really off the radar. This is a shame because it has a much more laid back and friendly atmosphere, all the proceeds go to a local horse rescue and my favorite part: they have an ultra marathon along side it.

Dusty headed off after work on Friday to crash at ride camp. He had just finished a grueling mountain 50k/32 mile race 9 days prior and was a little nervous about his recovery in between races. Our friend, Theresa, was there to ride her annual 50 on her meatball of a gelding, Jedi and he attempted to find her rig in the dark. He never did and ended up crashing by the registration tent.

The next morning, I called him when Wyatt woke up at 7 am to wish him luck. He had started at 6:30 am and was feeling really good a half an hour into the run. The course was slightly different from the previous year and he had a 30 minute head start on the horses.

I spent the morning with my little man and then packed up to head to Biltmore after his nap.  I figured Dusty would finish somewhere between 4 and 5 pm and wanted to be at the finish.  It is a 1 1/2 hour drive, so I wanted to leave by 2 pm at the latest and was happy when he woke up from his nap at 1 pm.

At some point in the morning Dusty texted me to let me know he had completed the first 20 miles in good form and was feeling pretty good. He had been passed by the front runners of the 50 mile horse ride around 5 miles in, but had yet to see Theresa. Another friend of ours, Sheree, was manning the first aid station and he had stopped to say hello.

I decided to bring Bones with us on the trip. She isn't doing too well with her bone cancer and is no longer allowed to go on walks, but ride camp is a lot of sitting and waiting which sh loves and could handle.

My Bones. I love her so much. 
The drive up was uneventful until I pulled through the Biltmore estate gates. I had been to Biltmore 3 previous times (1 hunter pace and two AERC events) and had never seen the actual house. Well, as I pulled through the gait I made a left turn instead of going straight and end dup on a part of the property I had never seen before. I wound around the gorgeous grounds and then right before my eyes there it was: the house! I was too excited, and the traffic was too congested, to take a picture, but it is super impressive. Anyone who comes to a ride here has to take the time to drive over to the house.

I did manage to snag a couple pictures of the greenhouse which is about the size of my house.

The greenhouse and some of the gardens

The green house was just as amazing as the actual estate house
As it turned out, this way was about 15 minutes quicker to the horse area then the round about way the signs take you. I don't think I would want to take a horse trailer this way though due to super narrow, tight roads and a lot of both road and foot traffic.

Once at camp, I found Dusty's car quickly and called to see how far out he was. His Garmin had died, but he figured her was about 13 miles out given the aid stations he had passed. He was pretty tired, hot and his right knee was hurting, but he was enjoying himself and having a good race. I told him to remember he does this for fun and that we would be waiting at the finish.

Wyatt, Bones and I wandered over to the crew area where the finish for the runners was and settled in to play int he dirt.

I asked him to smile for the camera and this was the face he made. I think he thought he was smiling.  
Doing what he does best: getting dirty and playing with a dump truck
The registration area was a gigantic white tent and was loaded with swag. There is a human massage therapist there for hire, the farrier and a big display for the Hope for Horses rescue that puts on the ride. The award table was laden with awards for every possible scenario and the swag was awesome. Makes me really wish I could actually ride this event!

I found the maps for the loops too and grabbed some pictures, only I thought my big head was blocking it and stopped after the first two. I'll have to get the third loop next year.

Loop 1

Loop 2

Sheree eventually found us and Bones and I settled in to chat while Wyatt played in a nearby water bucket. Last summer we both conditioned together a lot, but then her horse came down with a nasty case of Lymes and she is only now getting her back under saddle. It was great to chat with her and catch up. Gem and Riiah pace well together and now that she is back under saddle, I am looking forward to conditioning with her again.

Crew area

The day was bright and clear and the sun was heating up. I watched as some of the 50k runners finished and then some of the 50 milers as well. There is a 74 year old woman who does the 50 miler here every year to support the horses and it was really great to watch her finish.

Eventually Dusty called to say that he leap frogged with Theresa a bit and was pushing hard to cross the finish before her. It would be hard though because the 50 mile horses have the finish line about a  mile from camp to avoid racing into camp. They then have 30 minutes to walk to camp, pulse down and vet in. It is the one thing about the ride that I do not like. He had to come all the way into crewing and he figured she would cross hers before he did his.

At 10 hours 28 minutes (3 minutes faster than last year) I saw this:

I was very proud of him for notably completing this 50 mile run faster than last year, but after having completed a really hard 50k only 9 days prior. He was hot and tired, but doing well. Wyatt ran over to the cooler and grabbed a gatorade to give him. It was really touching.

Unfortunately, it was getting late and we couldn't stay for the awards. I shouted a congrats to Theresa and we packed up to head home. A big congrats to the hubby for his completion!


  1. I am ashamed to admit I had never heard of this ride. Biltmore is one of my favorite places to ride, and is well worth the long, long, long drive!

    1. It seems like most people don't know about it which is a shame. Keep it in the back of your mind for next year! Dusty always runs it to support the running race (only 7 people seem to run it each year) which leaves me on the ground with Wyatt. You could definitely ride Gem in the 50 next year and I will be there camping with Wyatt to help out. Baring any major issues, that is.