The speed and drama of the first loop made
the trail difficult to see, but on the second loop the mud was
clearly visible. There were two long sections of mud on all the
trails: one midway through the loops, and one coming into camp.
I picked through the mud a little more carefully on the second
loop, and kept Izahr in his 20 km (13 mph) canter, his preferred
gait. At the crew point, Izahr sucked down water from every bucket,
and was quite tolerant with the water bullets my crew was throwing
at us. Our pace for this loop was about 17.35 kilometers/hour,
though I had no idea where I was in relation to the pack.
I pulled my speed back a bit on the third loop - not by slowing
down on the trail, but simply letting him drink as much as he
wanted. He even grabbed a few mouthfuls of grass, that horse
was one great eater and drinker. He knows how to take care of
himself during a ride, sure made my job a lot less stressful!
There was a mandatory recheck after this loop, and Izahr again
passed with flying colors. Our speed for the third loop was about
15 km/hour, though everyone was going a bit faster than what
they printed because it was slightly longer than 35 km, more
like 37.2 or so.
With only 15 miles to go, I decided to
let the last loop rip - they did the count down for my fourth
loop, and we went out like a racehorse. I figured while we were
at the World Championships, we might as well put on a show; Izahr
enthusiastically agreed with my line of thinking. My GPS had
us going 23-24 km/hour (about 15 miles per hour) for that entire
last loop, and with the four water stops, the final pace for
this loop was about 18.4 km/hour.
I was extremely careful about our finish line check, letting
Izahr walk and drink more than normal. My crew told me there
had been several pulls at the finish line, so I made sure that
Izahrs pulse was well under criteria and that everything
was looking good. Of course, just like all of the other vet checks,
Izahr passed easily and all of team USA, and various other teams
and spectators, cheered wildly and snapped photographs.
Our average speed for the whole 75 race
was about 17 kilometers an hour, which is about 10.6 miles an
hour. We placed 54th out of 95 pre-race entries, of course well
ahead of the American speed record so we achieved our
goal; we improved upon Americas last performance. And I
sincerely hope that my new speed record gets broken by a team
of American Young Riders four years from now at the next YR World