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Images by Merri Melde
Virginia Jenkins story || Alex Lewis story || Siri Olson story

2023 Virginia City 100

2023 Virginia City 100 1st place and Best Condition

Melissa Montgomery and her beautiful AF Bull (Bullet)

Alexandra Lewis photo

2023 Virginia City 100 - Siri Olson

September 19 2023
By 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...

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2023 Virginia City 100 - Alex Lewis

By Alexandra Lewis
September 18 2023

It was a busy day here at VC100! It was SO FUN to see the PNW representing with so many horse and rider teams!!

Marco and I had an amazing first 25 miles with Stevie Delahunt and Carmen Jackson and Mallori Farrell ; horses were feeling fresh and ready to go!! Thanks for the fun this morning ladies!!

Marco had no problem navigating the rock in the dark, something I was worried about but clearly don't need to be! We cruised through the first 16 miles of the ride without a hitch and enjoyed the views and how strong Marco felt!! I was having to do a lot of holding him back, but I knew that was going to be the situation because of how fit he is right now!

As we started walking through someone's property which was where we were routed through, Marco went down in some sand onto both knees, cutting them up, and the right one was pretty bad. I noticed at the vet hold he had lost a glue on boot after I did a boot check at mile 10 or so, which is why I think he went down in the first place.

I doctored him up in under 3 minutes, had the bleeding stopped, liquid bandage on the cuts to keep them from getting dirty, and caught back up to the group. Marco felt strong after, but not 100%, which was concerning this early on in the ride...

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2023 Virginia City 100 - Virginia Jenkins

September 18 2023
By Virginia Jenkins

Virginia City 100... I can definitely say no one was lying about the rocks. Flite and I took on the historical trail and brought home a completion with a 20:05 ride time.

We started out at 5 am in front of the classic Delta Saloon - what a cool start. After the Virginia City sheriff led 60 horses and riders to the wrong start in his own city, we got on the trail. Flite and I cruised along in the dark through the rocks (and more rocks... and MORE rocks) and into the first vet check at 24 miles. Flite vetted in at 40 and 40 minutes later, we were off on the next loop of 15 miles. This loop had some sections with NO ROCK (crazy, I know), but also had Bailey Canyon where I managed to lose two octos. Thank goodness I had my renegades with me. I popped them on and off we went. We came into the Washoe Park check and Flite once again vetted out fabulously.

Next up was a 12 mile loop. But not just any 12 mile loop. Here, we conquered the SOBs (aptly named, imo). I decided to be a hero and hike up the first and second ones. The first one was seriously straight up and I thought I might die. Flite was rolling his eyes at me as he grabbed a snack while I could barely breathe. Next stop was at Basecamp at 51 miles. Flite looked great for the vet in, but didn't eat as well as he usually does. I really think he thought he was done and could take his time eating. Sorry buddy, we were only halfway!...

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VC100 finishers as of 1:15 AM:
1 Melissa Montgomery on Gunz N Roses
2 Mollie Quiroz on Chndakasexpress
3 Becky Spencer on One Sun
4 Christoph Schork on GE Pistol Anne
5 Dante LaPierre on Ammour
6 Justin Loewen on Par
We have 47 riders of our 58 starters on trail (or finished) including all 10 Juniors!!

"Slightly Broken," Nicole Wertz Wins 2021 Virginia City 100

Broken ribs? Banged up knee and ankle? Lost stirrups in the gallop in the dark to the finish line? No problem for veteran rider Nicole Wertz in the Virginia City 100

October 22 2021
By Merri Melde-Endurance.net

Two weeks before Nicole Wertz and All For You were to attempt Nicole’s 23rd Virginia City 100 finish, it looked doubtful that they’d even reach the starting line in front of the Delta Saloon.

Nicole’s 13-year-old mare All For You (“Tinga”) had a metabolic pull in her first 50-mile start in May of 2021.

In her second start two weeks prior to Virginia City, Tinga got hung up in a gate three miles into a 50-miler when Nicole’s stirrup got caught; it ripped Nicole’s leg and she eventually fell off onto a pile of rocks, breaking three ribs, hurting her knee and ankle, while Tinga ran off for two hours.

The obvious solution would have been to call it a day, but once Nicole caught her horse and had the vets thoroughly check her out and give her the all-clear, Nicole climbed back on Tinga for a 38-mile training ride. “She needed a good workout; she was going to VC!” Nicole laughed.

Tinga was the horse Nicole thought she could win VC on. “I won it in 2013, but it was a tie. So my goal was always, if I had the right horse, and the right setup, I would try to win it for real.”

Nicole took a (whole) week off from riding, then took Tinga on a test ride six days before VC. “Just to make sure I could ride balanced enough, and think that I could do a hundred miles. Yeah - that’s right - ride 100 miles slightly broken. But us endurance people are tough.”

Hence she and Tinga made it to the starting line in downtown Virginia City, Nevada, at 5:00 AM on Saturday, October 16th.

Nicole and her good friend Kassandra DiMaggio, aboard One Sun, rode together most of the ride, chasing the leader Melissa Montgomery aboard Guns “N” Roses.

“We were behind her by about 15 minutes most of the day,” Nicole said. “We just never seemed to be able to catch her. She’s a fierce competitor. She’s relentless. She had just done that Moab 240-mile foot race right before she came here. She’s just an amazing, amazing, amazing woman.”

At the 93-mile checkpoint, Nicole and Kassandra caught Melissa (she would cross the finish line, but her horse was pulled, as he had fallen with her on the last loop and ended up lame.)

That left Nicole and Kassandra vying for first place. Kassandra had a minute lead on Nicole out of the last vet check, but Nicole quickly caught her. “I think she thought she had me, and when I caught her she said, ‘Aw shoot, I knew this was going to happen!’”

The two riders knew the VC trail well, and knew that the hardest section was after 50 miles. “There’s an extreme amount of climbing between the 50 and 75 mile mark. It’s like literally non-stop climbing. That’s where you’ve got to conserve. And the last loop, the last 25 miles - if you’ve got horse - it’s mostly pretty flat, so you can really move. And it’s fairly good footing.”

The race was on between the two friends the last seven miles. “We just rode along and rode smart, and right about when it was time to go, we went, and like Kassandra said at our awards ceremony, ‘Nicole is a little more ballsy on the runaway down the hill!’

“And I ended up racing the last probably half mile with no stirrups, because I lost them. My ankle was a wreck. I almost fell off on the turn; Tinga switched leads and her saddle slipped. There was a moment where literally I thought, Ohmigod, I’m going to fall off and lose this race! And I was planning to fall off on the side I was already wrecked on…” Nicole’s ankle had started to bother her at the 65-mile mark, and the knee pain had returned (and she didn’t even mention her mending ribs). And now she was racing in the dark for the finish line with no stirrups.

“But I really didn’t want to fall off, so I grabbed her neck and mane and I just figured, well, I ride a Grand Prix dressage horse, so I was like, I can ride without stirrups racing at a full gallop!

“And I did! And as we went over the finish line, I won by about a horse length. Tinga gave it her all. She didn’t even have to dig into her gas tank. She really had a lot left.”

Eventual third place finisher Jay Mero, riding Ozark Kaolena SWA, left the last vet check about a half hour behind Nicole and Kassandra, but those two sped up so much they put another half hour on Jay.

“We were moving,” Nicole said. “But it was a beautiful night. Our horses know each other well. And Kassandra and I are actually really close friends.”

After that great effort, All For You completed the ride (her second VC finish) with an impressive 48-48 CRI.

The next morning, Kassandra’s Arabian gelding One Sun won the Best Condition award (One Sun is a son of French Open, who won the Tevis Cup with Heather Reynolds in 2014).

“That was icing on the cake. Her horse looked fabulous. It was great that both of us essentially got a win. I think that made it even more fun for friends, especially,” Nicole said.

Nicole has owned All For You for four seasons. She originally bought the mare from Endurance rider Gwen Hall for her husband Josh to ride. “But he’s not a serious rider, so I guess I stole her.”

While you’ve often seen Nicole riding her homebred Friesian crosses, Tinga is a well-bred Arabian (Nivour de Cardonne X Tu For All, by Tron Ku Tu) who is a delight to ride.

“She’s actually the funnest horse I’ve ever ridden, and I’ve ridden a lot of horses over the years. She is super fun. She’s kind of like riding a dirt bike on a trail. She’s very handy. She has a big floaty stride, but she’s very easy to half-halt and get around tight corners. When you watch her, she’s a pretty effortless mover. Her normal going-down-the-road trot is 12 mph. Big trot. That’s just her normal speed. Slow for her is 10. She’s a nice mover.”

But she’s a horse Nicole has had to manage metabolically. “She’s been a challenge in that respect.

“I had encouragement from Heather and Jeremy Reynolds, who really like this mare, and have told me many times, do not give her away!

“I’ve had to figure her out. The Reynolds gave me some professional advice with their electrolyte protocol. And this mare just needs more electrolytes than I’ve ever given. She’s one that needs it every two hours, and I just have to do that. And it seems to work.

“And we figured out that the best thing for her is she needs to do an Endurance ride two weeks before a hundred.” (Or, say, a 38-mile training ride despite the fact you just sustained broken ribs.)

As for Nicole receiving her 23rd Virginia City buckle (second only behind Connie Creech’s 26), that dream started when she was 10 or 11. “I don’t know why, but I had a goal of getting 20 buckles.

“I rode a pony the first time I rode it at age 11. And by the time I was 20, I did have 10 buckles. And I did 12 consecutive years without getting pulled. I begged, borrowed, stole a horse so I could ride.

“Then life, college, whatever, horse, no horse; the years went by. It’s been a while since my Friesian crosses have been going, so I haven’t really had anything recently to ride. So there was kind of a gap.”

Nicole obviously got her riding genes from her mom, 77-year-old Pat Chappell, a legend in her own right who rode this year for her 20th VC buckle. She and Nicole rode together until about mile 38, when her mom started dropping back. Pat ended up pulling at 60 miles. When Nicole isn’t riding Virginia City, she’s there helping crew for her mom or to support someone else.

All For You appears to like doing 100s, and it looks like she’s got a few more Virginia City buckles in her future.

“When I couldn’t start Tevis this year, (we had some issues with shoes falling off at the wrong time) Heather and Jeremy really encouraged me to get Tinga’s feet repaired and ‘Go win VC’.

“At the finish of Tevis [Jeremy won aboard Treasured Moments], Jeremy hugged me and told me I should have been right there with him with my mare.

“Their encouragement and positivity and believing in this horse really helped prepare us for VC this year.

“Despite many challenges we did it, and I am so proud!”