FAMILIAR TRAIL: Placer freshman Claire Ross will take on the 2015 Tevis Cup

By: Ike Dodson of the Auburn Journal
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2015 Tevis Cup timeline

July 29 - 6 p.m.

Tevis Hamburger Barbecue. $7 per meal, Gold Country Fairgrounds, in Auburn. Sponsored by Native Sons

July 31 -10 a.m.

Rider check in begins at Robie Park

11 a.m.

Barbecue lunch

Noon to 6 p.m.

Veterinary check-in, Mansfield Arena

3:30 p.m.

Crew briefing, Barsaleau Pavilion

4:15 p.m.

Junior rider and sponsor meeting

4:45 p.m.

New riders meeting

6 to 7 p.m.

Pre-ride dinner

7 p.m.

Pre-ride briefing and question/answer period

Aug. 1 - Ride-day

4:45 a.m.

Participants assemble for start

5:15 a.m.

2015 Tevis Cup start

5:30 a.m.

Last chance to depart

5:31 a.m.

Sweep riders depart

9 p.m.

McAnn Stadium activities and entertainment.

Aug. 2 - 5:15 a.m.

Ride cut-off time

7 a.m.

Breakfast at the north end of McCann Stadium, prepared by the Native Sons of the Golden West.

10 a.m.

Judging of top-ten finishers for the Haggin Cup Best Condition award at McCann Stadium.

1 p.m.

Awards ceremony banquet at the Upper Pavilion of the Gold Country Fairgrounds.

2 p.m.

Awards presentation


2015 Tevis Cup info

Entries: 202 riders (10 junior) from 12 countries and 22 U.S. states

The trail: The Tevis Cup Ride follows a rugged portion of the Western States Trail, which stretches from Salt Lake City to Sacramento. Beginning at the Robie Equestrian Park (elevation 7,000 feet), south of Truckee, California, the trail descends gradually approximately nine miles to the Truckee River at the Midway Crossing on Highway 89. The trail takes a route through Squaw Valley, the U.S. Olympic training facility and site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, and ascends from the valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass near Watson's Monument (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in 4½ miles. From the pass, following the trail once used by gold and silver miners during the 1850s and rediscovered by Robert Montgomery Watson in 1929, riders will travel west, ascending another 15,540 feet and descending approximately 22,970 feet before reaching the century-old town of Auburn via the traditional route through Robinson Flat, Last Chance, Deadwood, Michigan Bluff, Foresthill, and Francisco's.

Advisory: Much of this territory is accessible only on foot, on horseback, or by helicopter.

Over 200 riders will traverse the Western States Trail from Tahoe to Auburn Aug. 1 for a 100-mile trek that’s considered the oldest endurance trail ride in the world —― the Tevis Cup.

The event, now in its 60th year of exhibition, will provide a particularly historic moment for a Placer County family that sprouted its root on the Western States Trail.

Claire Ross, an incoming freshman at Placer High and 13-year-old junior rider, will follow in the footsteps of her father, James Ross, and mother, Sandra Ross, by embarking on a family journey.

James and Sandra, both finishers of the Western States 100-mile Endurance Run, first met at Michigan Bluff on the Western States Trail. Sandra finished Western States in 2010 with Claire by her side for the final moments.

The family lived in Auburn until three years ago, when they moved to Cool, but Claire continues her education in the Endurance Capital of the World.

Claire, a graduate of Skyridge Elementary and EV Cain Middle School, was the No. 3 junior and 12th fastest rider overall in the 50-mile American River Ride on April 18. She qualified for the Tevis Cup by completing six 50-mile rides since 2013.

Everything she has done has been in preparation for the Tevis Cup, training with longtime Tevis Cup finisher Kathy Sherman of Auburn, also her race sponsor.

“I just can’t wait,” Claire said Thursday. “I have had so many dreams about it.

“It’s been really crazy waiting for it and I can’t believe it’s happening.”

Her parents will represent part of her crew, traveling to different race access points for a chance to offer support. She couldn’t have a better team.

“I think it’s amazing that I am riding the same trail that they ran,” Claire said. “It’s really special, especially when we know that the whole family has done it now.”

Claire will ride atop a mount dubbed “Rushcreek Nerf” (“Nerf” for short), a grey Arab gelding owned by Andrew Larson of North Auburn.

Nerf has already completed the Tevis Cup three times and he instantly bonded with Claire, who said he has a great, goofy personality.

“That horse and I just click,” Claire said. “He’s like my best friend.

“He’s incredible, just a phenomenal horse in general.”

 The partnership has been a rewarding sight for Claire’s parents, now watching their daughter blaze her own Western States Trail.

“I’m overwhelmed in a lot of ways,” Sandra said. “I’m trying to not make it such a big deal, but as an endurance athlete myself, it feels like such a monumental life-achievement-thing to do at 13 years old.

“The Western States Trail is such a common thread in our family life and very much a part of our existence, and now our girl is riding it, so it makes me very emotional.”

Both Sandra and Claire offered a bevy of thanks toward Sherman and Larson, the two people most responsible for realizing Tevis Cup dreams.

Now it’s all up to Claire and Nerf, on a 100-mile trek through rugged California wilderness.

“I think it will not be just physical work, but a lot of mental work as well,” Claire said. “It also takes a great crew ―— which my mom is in charge of ―— to finish this race.

“It’s a lot of work, but I will be so happy when I do it, because it’s been a goal all my life to finish the Tevis Cup.”

Email Ike Dodson at Follow him on Twitter, @Ike_Dodson.