While on top of her horse, Ekstreme (nicknamed Buddy), Wyatt overcame many odds to complete 94 miles of the 100-mile journey, while pricking her finger every hour and trying to keep pace with the other riders.
“It’s just another thing to deal with out on the trail,” Wyatt acknowledged. “You definitely have to keep your eye open to it because if I don’t test my blood sugar on the trail or give shots out on the trail, it could turn really bad.”
Her downtime at each stage of the race included multiple nutrition checks and much-needed rest. While trying to maintain a steady blood sugar level through snacks and hydration, Wyatt posted a strong time on her horse, Buddy. She finished 36 miles of the ride to Robinson Flat in under six hours while keeping a 9.4 miles per minute (mpm) pace.
“I was a little nervous in the morning, but I ended up having a really good start on this horse,” Wyatt acknowledged. “I’m riding Mike Picket’s horse, Buddy because my horse came up lame the week before Tevis.”
Even though X-Rays revealed no ligament or bone damage to her horse, Wyatt was forced to switch to Buddy — a 13-year-old Arab horse — just a few days before the race. In limited time, Wyatt was able to get three rides in with Buddy before the race began at 5:15 a.m. Saturday morning.
“He’s a good horse, so that helps a lot,” Wyatt said. “The learning curve was accelerated.”
Wyatt — who grew up in Granite Bay — trains in Loomis with Mark Schuerman, who began training sport horses back in the 1970’s. He’s also competed in, and finished 11th in the 2012 Tevis Cup.
“In the endurance world, there’s not a lot of people my age racing,” Wyatt admitted. “And Mark helped bridge the gap for me. It’s a lot of fun.”
But Wyatt made a few rookie mistakes.
“I did not prep at all,” she confessed. “I showed up with a dressage (show) saddle and dressage boots. So I was in for a long day. But I switched to tennis shoes at Robinson Flat and it made a huge difference.”
Wyatt, who joined fellow Auburn natives Janet Worts, Koylynn Webdell, Ann Hall, Shauna Glorioso, Cristine Daniel and Nicole Chappell in the race, nearly completed the 100-mile trek. But Buddy came up lame at the Lower Quarry — just six miles from the finish line.
“It would have meant the world to me to finish,” Wyatt said, “because it’s been my dream ever since I started endurance racing four years ago to finish this race. But maybe next year.”
Wyatt joined six other riders who had to withdraw from the race at Lower Quarry due to injury or illness as they came up just six miles short.
In all, Wyatt was one of 78 riders who couldn’t complete the challenges of Placer County’s unnerving endurance trail. But of those 87 riders who made it to the Gold Country Fairgrounds and crossed the finish line, only one could claim the James Ben Ali Haggin Cup, which is awarded to the best conditioned horse.
That honor went to Lisa Ford, who finished second overall with a time of 16:53 behind Karen Donley (16:33), and her horse GE Cyclone (Cyclone). Lisa and her husband, Garrett Ford, set the trail on fire through 85 miles. They closed an early 14-minute gap to three minutes by Francisco’s, but they couldn’t close the gap and catch the Donley’s in the final 14 miles.
Other top-ten finishers included Jeremy Reynolds (4th; 17:35), Lindsay Fisher (5th; 18:06), 75-year-old Redding native Jesse Caswell (6th; 18:07), Gabriela Blakeley (7th; 18:27), Julie A. White (8th; 18:38), Tony Benedetti (9th; 18:45) and Suzanne Hayes (10th; 18:45).
To see the original photos and article and photos in the Auburn Journal newspaper, CLICK HERE.