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2023 Virginia City 100 - Siri Olson

By Siri Olson
September 19 2023

Each year I try to pick one goal ride. This season VC 100 was on the list. We trained hard, consistently, and did all the things to prepare, beginning in February. The thing about endurance is that it is not an over night process. It is very much a long term commitment.

The ride finally rolled around and plans had been in the making for quite sometime.

We found ourselves rolling into ride camp Thursday before the ride. Its a long drive!! We had some down time and relaxed. The horses settled in great! Friday night was definitely a sleepless night. So sleepless I literally started counting sheep to shut my brain off. My alarm went off and I told my husband that I wasn't sure Troop and I could do this. I was so scared! What was I thinking? Like really, the VC 100?? The toughest ride we have ever attempted and undoubtedly one of the toughest rides in the US. Is Troop ready? Is he really a 100 mile horse? Look at the 100 mile field of riders!! How could we possibly compete here, of all places?? Kevin is always supportive and told me get up and get it done.

I was blessed, honored, and humbled to ride with one of my heroes Max Merlich on his bitch face mare, Layla, on his 70th birthday. Happy Birthday Max!! Congrats on your 100 mile completion.

I was also very honored to ride with badass Tani Bates! She is iconic and tough! Congratulations on Jericho's 1st 100 mile completion! Way to go to the toughest ride ever and knock it out of the park!

Then there's Troop. Yep, we had some A$$ Monkey moments. I mean really, it's not Troop without some antics and attitude. He Trooped through the day as steady as he could be. We both hit a low on those damn SOB's!! Hot, tired, not feeling the greatest. Lack of sleep? Over emotional? Dumb female hormones?? Here's the thing about endurance, the challenge is not always the literal trail. Sometimes it's that connection with your horse and/or with yourself, or just pacing 3 very different horses with different abilities and strengths. Flexibility. Adaptability. I always have a plan A, knowing adjustments will probably be made. For some reason I just couldn't find our steady rhythm. My biggest challenge was quite honestly with myself. I suck at speaking up because I want everyone to be happy and have fun. I don't want to be the spoiler or weak link, especially with my very non-typical endurance horse. I always put those I care about first and foremost, no matter what, even if it means making those adjustments. The first 51 miles was hard!!

We finally made it to the 51 mile vet check and I was not in the best head space. I had been riding with one contact (the other one was tore before I could even get it in that morning), had run out of water, and there was this pain in my shins I had never felt before. I needed hydration, FOOD, and time for my brain to process WTF was going on! I literally felt like I was falling apart and failing, miserably! My amazing husband fed us! Food tasted so good!! I got rid of that damn one contact and opted for glasses. Changed my clothes, panties and all. Grabbed a couple of tylenol. Took some time to just have my own pitty party and shed a few tears, okay, so ALOT!! Pulled up my big girl panties, sucked it up, and changed my plan, perspective, and goals for the ride. It wasn't just about finishing, it was so much more.

We marched out of that vet check like the bad asses we are! We were ready to kick this VC 100's tail! I opted to get off and lead Troop down the big hills in the daylight. He's not a downhill horse, especially those super steep downhills!! We could actually keep up with our Team on the downhills this way. And it helped get my shins feeling better. We knew this loop was going to get dark on us since it was so long. Our crew was so amazing to meet us at the road crossing before camp. Site for sore eyes for sure!!

We were almost back to ride camp when we had an incident on the trail. Could've been so much worse! So thankful it wasn't! We all pulled together made adjustments and got into camp for the 76 mile vet check. All the horses vetted through sound. One more loop, just one more loop.

For whatever reason I somehow thought the last loop was short. When we found out it was closer to 20, it was a bit demoralizing! Especially with all the other challenges throughtout the day (shoes, boots, more boots, ROCKS and more ROCKS, ect). It was time to go and get it done!!

We thought we could make up some time on the last loop. Nope! True to form, there was LOTS of walking!! Rocks, wash outs, boulders, trees, ect...And still the horses were feeling good. Troop pulled on me that entire last loop!! He was ready to go! But the trail kept us in low gear.

We trudged on with one goal in mind and that was to cross the finish line by 4:59 am. As we were creeping closer Max's head lamp died. Then Tani's. Max had a flashlight, but he needed 2 hands on his mare. Mine was still working. I gave Tani my extra headlamp. Mine finally died about 1/2 mile from the finish. As we climbed the last hill we could here our crew woopin'!! I smiled, my heart was full. Max literally stopped a foot before the finish line!! I had stopped behind him and literally pushed Layla across it! We finished at 4:30 am. Now we just needed to vet through. We walked ALOT on that last loop and it got chilly!! Troop is a big muscled boy!! If his muscles cool down, I worry about him stiffening up. It's happened! It was a 2 mile walk back to vetting from the finish line. I prayed silently that I did everything right all day for my big boy. He felt beyond great!! This is that scared thing. Scared of what?? Failure!!! Just need to pass one more test!!

That final trot out was the BEST!! Troop was STRONG and solid. Me, I was tired, mentally and emotionally exhausted!! We finished 44th and took the coveted Turtle award.

Our amazing crew is the absolute best!! Could not have done this ride without them! Thank you Darlene Merlich , Valerie Sharpe Vollbrecht and her Kevin, and my wonderful husband. They kept us going all day!! And documented our day with amazing videos and pictures. I am forever grateful!

Thank you to my most amazing ride partners with badass horses! Congrats on your well earned finish! We all got buckles baby!! Woop! Woop!

Thank you to #NASTR ride management and volunteers! The hospitality was amazing! BTW, I thought I held the record for losing 3 shoes in one ride. Not any more! Max wins with losing all 4 shoes in one ride!! And who knows how many boots!