She was the only Aussie to saddle up for a gruelling 100-mile race across the rocky plains of the US.
Bullioh’s Tracy John re-traced the route of the old pony express trail as part of the Virginia City 100-Mile 50th anniversary race on September 16.
Riding an Arabian horse borrowed from a friend, Tracy rode for nearly 20 hours to arrive 31st across the finish line in a starting field of 71 horses.
The race had been on her bucket list since she competed in The Tevis Cup in 2015, another US race regarded as the “granddaddy” of endurance rides.
The 49-year-old, who runs Berwick Endurance Stud with her husband Peter John, said the appeal of endurance riding lay in the partnership between horse and rider.
“I love it because it’s one on one,” she said.
“I love the Arabian breed – I love their speed, their intelligence and the fact they are such beautiful horses to work with.”
Tracy’s steed on the ride was no exception.
The sure-footed Al Marah Land Robin, otherwise known as “Robin”, carried her faithfully across the rugged and stony terrain in 19 hours and 45 minutes.
Riders set out at 5am, expected to complete the race within 24 hours with compulsory vet stops along the way.
“Even the locals complained about how rocky it was this year,” Tracy said.
“The tracks had been washed out from winter rain and it was pretty slow going. You would trot three steps and then have to walk.
“It’s very hilly: you start off at about 6200 feet, work your way down to 5000 feet and then back up to the highest point of 7669 feet.”
That’s when you can “hit the wall”, according to Tracy, who would get off on the downhill slopes and run beside her horse.
“Your horse will go quiet, it might be struggling to climb so you just go at their pace, wait for a checkpoint to have a break and then they just go again.
“They are amazing animals.”
Such is the toll on horse and rider, only 45 combinations actually completed this year’s race.
Tracy’s champing at the bit to have another crack in 2018.
“I want to finish in the top 20,” she said.
“I’ve learned you’ve got to get going earlier and I plan to get as far in front as I can early in the race.”
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