Fun (pronounced: /fən/) noun, adjective: Spending a Saturday watching world-class and Olympic level eventers in gorgeous Temecula, California.
The Galway Downs three-day event was truly amazing. This is the 2nd year Jess and I have made the early morning drive down to volunteer at this event, and I think it may need to become an ongoing annual tradition.
After manning the volunteer check-in for about an hour, we got to hang out at watch the CCI* run before our volunteer duties resumed. This is one of the jumps we had a great view of.
Galway implemented several things to make this event much more spectator friendly than other events:
|Me next to a CCI* jump next to the racetrack.|
Firstly, they created Oasis stations at various points around the pedestrian walking path that served alcohol and had live bands playing music in between the divisions! Yeah, beer and wine. And music. For the win.
Next, they had a tractor-pulled hay ride driving around the racetrack so that people with mobility issues (or, possibly, inebriation issues) could get toted around to watch lots of the eventing action rather than have to walk. Brilliant!
Thirdly, and most importantly, they reversed the starting schedule from normal, starting with the lower levels early in the morning and saving the higher levels for later in the day. They had the 2* starting at 1pm, then a half-hour live music break, then the 3* at 2:45 or so. There were TONS of spectators, so I think this really did work.
So, what was our volunteer job for the day? Jump-judge the CCI** and CCI*** fences #10. Yeah. It was incredible. Here we are standing in between the 3* (left) and 2* (right).
|Photo graciously taken by Amy McCool of McCool Photography.
Note: if you see someone with a huge camera, that is the person to flag down and ask to take a photo of you. She kindly took her time and got several interesting angles. And she’s so nice! Yay!
Okay, on to the action. For both the 2* and 3* courses, jump #10 is just under half-way through each of the courses. Jump #9 was a steeplechase-like jump inside the racetrack, then they come down a good-sized hill to #10. Incredibly, 100% of the riders who made it to jump #10 made it clear – we had not one single refusal, run-out, fall, or anything.
But we did have this (prepare to cringe):
That was Mark Grandia aboard Parker, and they finished XC double clear and ended up 6th overall!
Olympian Gina Miles aboard S.V.R. Ron looking pro (XC double-clear, 4th place):
On to the 3*, the forerunner after dressage, Michael Pollard aboard Shoensgreen Hanni, makes it look effortless:
But speaking of crazy, even though all of these jumps are amazingly high and huge and wide, they do not *look* quite as large to me as they did last year. These people going around and doing this, some at age 55+, are not seeming quite as crazy to me as they have in the past. And that is how I know that I am ever more sinking into eventer-dom. And I came away with the overpowering desire to do this. To compete.
Saturday night, for the first time in several weeks, I didn’t dream about projects at work. I dreamt about eventing. =]