Auburn, Calif. – After a hard day of work on an uber-hot Western States Trail in Northern California, Quake received the ultimate reward: a fistful of carrots.
And after galloping for 100 miles from Squaw Valley, Calif., to Auburn Saturday in just under 17 hours, the 8-year-old chestnut gelding devoured his victory treats in a matter of seconds.
Rusty Toth of Durango, the man aboard Quake, was quick to deflect credit for winning this year’s Tevis Cup in a time of 16 hours, 57 minutes.
“It’s all about the horse,” Toth said of his steed, also known as Take A Break. “He did it – not me.”
Toth and Quake never held the lead throughout the ride that started at 5:15 a.m. until it mattered most.
With five miles to go until the official finish line at the Auburn Overlook, the winning duo took advantage of their window of opportunity.
Another Durangoan, Kevin Myers, riding Auli Farwa (Far), finished fifth, 46 minutes behind Toth.
Toth, who last year won the Haggin Cup – for the horse rated in the most superior physical condition after the ride – after a fourth-place finish, described the win as amazing.
“Last year, I won Haggin, so this is the icing on the cake, I guess,” he said. “It’s a pretty amazing feeling to come here and win this. I never ever, ever dreamed I’d win this ride.”
Toth, a “barefoot trimmer” (trimming a horse’s hooves as they normally would if it lived in the wild) and a yoga instructor at Yoga Durango, said he isn’t used to temperatures that exceed 90 degrees. While riding up the El Dorado Canyon, he pointed out that it was 108 degrees at the bottom.
“It slowed me down quite a bit,” he said of the sweltering weather.
The same went for the rest of the field.
At 6:18 p.m., the Tevis Cup’s official Twitter account tweeted, “Due to the extreme heat, all cutoff times except for the finish line at 5:15 (a.m.) have been extended by 15 minutes.”
Jennifer Waitte of Yountville, who held the lead for a majority of the afternoon, finished second at 10:29 p.m. along with third-place finisher Jenni Smith of Moraga, Calif. Both reached the finish 17 minutes after Toth. Christoph Schork of Moab, Utah, was fourth, 34 minutes behind Toth and 12 minutes ahead of Myer.
Starting at Robie Park near Squaw Valley, 160 riders took off with the goal of trying to reach Auburn within 24 hours. Late Saturday night, 68 riders already had been pulled from the ride.