Friday, August 12, 2011

Reining in my competitive spirit at Fireworks 50 - Full Article

August 12 2011
Julie Jag

Like in most races I enter, I had no designs on winning Saturday's Fireworks 50-mile endurance ride. Unlike the rest, I actually had a chance this time.

The route for the 38th running of this marathon horse race wound through trails in Henry Cowell State Park, the Pogonip, UC Santa Cruz and Wilder Ranch State Park, giving me the home field advantage. Furthermore, my steed -- an Arabian-mustang cross named Courage, who was loaned to me for the ride by my friend Steve Shaw -- was in excellent shape, thanks mainly to the conditioning he got while competing in ride-and-tie races all summer.

Most pertinent to our chances at winning, however, was that, unlike me, Courage actually possesses endurance, heart and speed -- qualities I have discovered to be universally held by athletes who win races.

But we weren't going to win. Steve had made that very clear.

If I wanted to continue to ride Courage after this race, I needed to stay in Steve's good graces, and he had warned me that he didn't want me going out and trying to win my very first 50-mile endurance race. But, then again, he didn't want me to soil the horse's reputation in the endurance world by taking last either.

So, in the first race I could actually win, we agreed I was instead going to aim for 10th.

It didn't take long to figure out that in a field of 50 riders, taking 10th was going to be harder than going for the gusto...

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