Bird Haven

Saturday, June 13, 2015

3:45am: I have to pee. Really we could sleep until 4. Our shift starts at Bird Haven at 6:30am, and we want to see the start of the 100 at 5:15. But we don’t have to be up this early for that. Doesn’t matter – people are moving around and I hardly slept anyway- now I have to pee so that settles it. I’m up.

IMG_9787It’s a perfect temperature outside with a light breeze but it’s not really cool for this early in the morning. Yes. It’s going to be a hot day.

5:10 am: “Five minutes to ride start”

Sun is just coming up over camp. We are on the ‘viewing deck’ waiting to see the start of the 100 before heading off to vet check 1.

6:17am: ready at vet check 1- bird haven! First riders should start coming through in the next 45 minutes.


7:02am: still waiting for our first rider. Some years they start arriving around 6:30… Everyone must be riding conservatively concerned about the heat to come.


8:18 am: most of the 100 milers have come through. We’ve pulled about 3 horses due to lameness issues- the volunteer farriers are busy with lost shoes and some of the booted folks have already put on their spares. It’s rough terrain. One horse had a rider option pull when his urine came out dark coffee colored.

Madison is working with the head vet Julia and she doesn’t do a lot of scribing but she gets to go on the interesting or questionable cases.

The 50s are up next and we have a little lull. Sitting down feels good as it’s still very early. Gotta conserve.

8:21am: first 50 miler comes in.

No- actually this 50 miler is checking in to check out, she’s convinced her horse is ‘not right’ and took a short cut in to have a vet look her over then do a rider option pull. So…

8:35 am: and now we have the first 50.

10:04 am: we’ve seen all the 100s and most of the 50s. Some of the vet teams pack up now and disperse into the other vet check stations. Madison left with Julia a while back – I’m sure she’s having a great day.


So far a cloudcover has kept the temps down and there’s a slight breeze. It’s still early though.

11:43am: is it not even noon yet? We’ve seen most of the horses once and are now waiting for the 50s to come back through on the way in. We’ve had around 10 horses pulled and lots more shoe trouble as the trail is rough but the clouds have held the temps down and the horses and riders are doing better than expected. Here are the last two 25 milers- gotta go…..

12:53pm: we’ve made it past noon and there’s a long lull waiting for the 50s to come back through.


2:23pm: first 50 milers makes it back to camp. Her horse looks great and she’s doing well- slightly stiff in its rear and slightly dehydrated but it’s gotten hot and is to be expected… She only has 6 miles to go and the next horse appears to be pretty far back. She made it so quickly from the previous check there were some raised eyebrows as to how exactly she moved that fast and looks so good.

4:14pm: seen the bulk of the 50s and the heat has really set in. The horses are looking hot and tired but we haven’t had to pull any yet. Just heard one of the 25s didn’t complete due to tying up and needed fluid treatment.


I’m learning a lot about what horses look like- what is ok and what is troubling… Especially from seeing them come through early then on their way in to finish. From our vet check they have only 6 miles to finish. I look forward to seeing the 100s and what these horses look like.


6:24 pm: all the 50s are through and the heat did wreak havoc in the afternoon. I have been collecting the pull sheets and we have 10 from the afternoon which my vet says is the most pulls he’s seen at this point of the race. It’s really useful to see what they horses look like when they aren’t ‘fit to continue’. Some really minor and some more serious.


8:05pm: had a little dinner break where Sarah and I went back to the bunkhouse bathroom and washed faces and brushed teeth to freshen up and then a little quick BBQ at base camp. It’s dusky and there’s thunder in the distance. The 100 milers are not into Laurel Run yet so they have another solid 90 minutes before even the fastest ones will make it back to us in Bird Haven. It’s a light sprinkle right now and we’ve lost our pop-up tent as the vet check station is only expecting 20 riders or less (those left of the original 28) and they try to break down as much as possible till the end of the night.


9:05pm: Madison and Julie (the head vet) return and we talk about how the day has gone. More pulls than normal today through the afternoon as horses and riders suffered from the heat and humidity.

You guys were MEAN she exclaims when she sees all the pulled rider cards.

But on a more serious note there were more than a few instances of teams where the horses were seriously struggling to recover. There was also a seasoned rider-vet whose horse got a cut at the digital artery on a rough patch of trail and the horse was loosing dangerous amounts of blood through the vet wrap pad bandage and was ambulanced to Leesburg where the positive outcome seemed questionable.

Madison is having a blast and Julie asked if she can take her home so that seems to be a great team. When I told her she can’t steal away my crew before I’ve even participated Julia assured me that Madison would make a fantastic crew member and thought it was brilliant!

9:27pm: first of the 100 milers made it to the final away vet check here at bird haven. They look fantastic – both the riders and the horses. They are in good spirits and their horses look better than many of the 50mile horses we saw earlier. Lots of excitement as we help the front runners through the vetting and a short 20 minute hold and cheer them on to their final 6 miles to finish.


11:47pm: almost midnight. two more horses arrive at bird haven as we are leaving for the finish line for final vet checks.

That’s the end of my cell phone service and I’m signing off for the day. I’ve been up for over 20 hours now and feel remarkably good… Lots of activity helps. Off to see them come in at the finish-

I’ll check in with a recap tomorrow!


Published by JaimeHope

Violin teacher and endurance rider living in a rural mountain county - one of the least population dense and without a single stoplight.

%d bloggers like this: