Riding Along – What Vermont 100 Means to Me
Nancy Zukewich and her daughter rode the 2019 Vermont 100 on horseback, and we’re thrilled she decided to share what this experience, and all those that preceded it, meant to her. What a fantastic story, and we can’t wait to have these folks back to the 2020 Vermont 100 Endurance Ride!
Riding Along – What the Vermont 100 Means to Me
I fell in love with Vermont from the minute I met her. As my rig slowly made its way up Silver Hill Road, I marveled at her beauty. We were driving in a fairy forest, through a tunnel of trees, green leaves speckled with sunlight. Wow, we get to ride in this magical place!
This was in 2011 and coming from flat land in Ontario, Canada, we entered the Moonlight 50. Though we didn’t start until 2:30 in the afternoon, we soaked up the magic of all the runners and horses leaving in the dark, wee hours of the morning.
It was hard to keep our horses under wraps early in the ride. Lucky for me, Dr. Art King introduced me to a Canadian turned Vermonter – Cathy Turcotte. Our paths crossed mid-ride on a big climb. My mare wanted to power trot up the long hill, but Cathy cautioned us to conserve energy, because there were more hills to come. More than I could have possibly imagined!
Finishing the ride in the dark, along with other 50, 75 and 100-mile horses and ultrarunners was a big thrill. Vermont had me under her spell.
From Humble Roots to the Hundred Mile Finish
The first 100-mile completion for me and my mare, Luba, came in Vermont in 2014. We knew what we were getting into and paced well all day. And at the first vet check, a lady handed me my ride card with a Canadian flag drawn on it. It was Cathy! It felt like coming home. I will never forget how wonderful it was to arrive at the finish, the trail lined on either side by crowds of cheering people. This was our third attempt at a 100-mile ride. Third time’s a charm!
Cheering people are one of the best things about the Vermont ride. There is such an amazing atmosphere with so many horse and human athletes in top form and ready to toe the line for the ultimate adventure – miles and miles on the green roads and trails of beautiful Vermont. You almost always have company on trail, be it horse or human. Luba loved the company of runners as much as more as that of other horses. This is a great event to try longer distances – 75 or 100 miles – as you and your horse are buoyed by the energy of all the other runners, riders, aide stations, and cheering people lining the roads.
And not only do people in Vermont cheer for you, they are of gracious and generous of spirit. Krista and Guy Alderdice let us stay at their farm before and after the ride. And when my truck with the slide-in camper died at the last vet check, Liz and Bernadette Brown offered to crew me through the rest of the ride. One of the emergency trailer volunteers left her horse trailer at my campsite so we had somewhere to sleep. And Cathy let us borrow her truck and actually figured out what was wrong with mine! I felt like I was at home with kindred spirits.
A Very Special 2019 – Riding with My Daughter
Fast forward a few years, and Luba and I are back in Vermont in 2019, this time with my teenaged daughter, Charlotte and her gelding, Sabr. Charlotte also experienced Vermont love at first sight at the GMHA Spring Endurance ride. And she got to ride with Melody Blittersdorf and Laura Farrell!
We came back in July to ride the VT100. It is every endurance-riding mother’s dream to share trail with your daughter, especially on a 100-mile ride. It was hot and humid and we chased cut-offs all day long. Although Sabr was pulled at mile 88 for lameness, Vermont taught Charlotte perspective. When they saw the treatment vet back at camp in the middle of the night, the vet said how sorry she was that they did not complete. Charlotte replied that this was a personal best for both her and Sabr. They had never gone 88 miles before!
Luba and I went on to finish the 100 and earned a heritage buckle donated by Steve Rojeck. One of my friends commented that the buckle artwork looked like a mother and daughter riding together.
Vermont Feels Like Family
Charlotte and I will be back this summer to share trail with so many amazing and inspiring humans and horses, hoping for another personal best!
A bit more about Nancy Zukewich
Nancy lives in Ottawa, Ontario. She and Luba earned their AERC Decade Team Award in 2018. She also practices and teaches yoga. You can follow her journey at Gray Horse Yoga.
Want to learn more about riding the Vermont 100?
Visit the Vermont 100 Endurance Ride website.
Want to learn more about the Vermont 100 ride’s history?
Visit our Vermont 100 History page, complete with timeline and information about our race leadership.
Feature Image Credit: Ben Kimball Race Photography
In-Post Image Credits: Deanna Ramsay