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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

August 19, 2014

The Old Dominion (or ...on a fact finding mission)

It is my belief that The Old Dominion is one of the most most under-publicized phenomena in the eastern United States.  So my goal today was to go on a little fact finding mission (source document) to see what I can learn about my long-term goal.   So I thought I'd share a bit as I go along.

The story goes a bit like this...a transplanted Californian and a former office holder for WSTR (Tevis) conceive the idea of an east coast ride on the order (and model of) Tevis but organized under the tenants of a Cavalry ride, to be staged in the mountains of Virginia.  The first Old Dominion ride being held in 1974 lots of trail rerouting over the years due to encroaching development led to the current staging area in Orkney, Virginia.   If you get the chance to check out the link, do it... there was a regular political coup "The dissident members, finding a loophole in the bylaws which allowed instant voting rights for new members, staged a coup at the January 1981 meeting by busing in and signing up enough family and friends to transfer a majority rule to their side."  DRAMA!

But forty years down the pike The Old Dominion is alive and well.

Historically the ride has been held the second weekend of June which is known to be hot and humid, as well as prone to soaking thunderstorms .  The terrain is steep, and rocky.  So from a point of the level of difficulty, it possesses a challenge not seen in the western states trail ride.   I won't offer any kind of an argument for it being better, harder, or anything else as I have no background to offer an opinion on either.   But I do feel it is perfectly acceptable to say that it is surely different and may well deserve the nickname The Beast of the East it makes claim to be.   Heat and humidity make it hard to walk from your porch to the mailbox...let alone traverse an upward slanted trail on a trotting horse across boulder strewn pathways.  The finish rates  and pulls for lameness attest to that. As do overtimes.  Looking at numbers for 2013 55% of the 100 mile riders completed, while 86% completed the 50.  There were only 18 starters in the 100 that year.   This past OD the weather was unseasonably cool which helped boost the 100 mile completion rate to 71% with 23 of the total 32 entered making it across the finish line in the 100.

The AERC site starts recording data on the Old Dominion about 1985, with 1992 showing the biggest turnout for the 100 mile event at 99 starters. What is rather disappointing to see  is the downward trend of entries in the 100 mile event after the other distances were added around 1993.  However that is countered with "more overall" entries with the addition of the 50 mile and LD distances. One could surmise that these entries are the glue holding the ride together from a financial standpoint.  But it is sad in a way that the ride lost its place as a stand alone 100 mile event.

Looking at the old data you see some recurring names in the top ten and winners circle of the hundreds.  Stagg Newman comes to mind as well as John Crandell, III. 

 Winning ride times on the hundred from fast 12:15 to a leisurely... 17:06

By all accounts I have my work cut out for me on a huge scale, and figure my chances of finishing ( if I even make it there ) somewhere in the 47-48% range ☺

I'd like to throw out a challenge----if you have not ever ridden the OD, come in 2016.  Let's have a party and get er done. 

And if you'd like a feel good older but not over the hill blog story click right here. This woman attempted the Beast her third time this year (with a slight modification).

And another great blog of the Epic Adventure here.  

Oh and here and here!

I'm gonna need to find myself a 2016 ride buddy or two ☺  The Spotted Wonder is going to have to get busy...

1 comment:

  1. Doing the OD100 is definitely on my bucket list, but would have to borrow someone's east coast horse...way too long of a drive from AZ, for one, and too difficult for a dry desert-kept horse to acclimate to that kind of humidity (east can come west and do Tevis more successfully, I feel, than west could go east and cope with with OD humidity).