ABOVE: Hannah McQueen and Debra McQueen at this year’s event. LEFT: An injured Jessica Langridge waits patiently while her horse is checked by a vet. BELOW: Stan Taylor leads his horse.
ABOVE: Hannah McQueen and Debra McQueen at this year’s event. LEFT: An injured Jessica Langridge waits patiently while her horse is checked by a vet. BELOW: Stan Taylor leads his horse. James Loose

Marathon effort at Far-A-Way Easter Endurance Festival

DESPITE wet weather threatening a wash out, the Far-A-Way Easter Endurance Carnival went ahead, ending with the marathon yesterday at Imbil Showgrounds.

After heavy rain on Thursday evening, Friday's 80km, 40km and Mini Marathon were cancelled.

Organiser Ken Moir said they were looking at a washout but the sun came out on Saturday to bring home remaining competitors.

The weather did dampen the event though, as of an expected 390 riders, only 150 competed.

James Loose

The 320km marathon is a huge test for riders and horses and a field of 20 riders at the start was whittled down to 12 by the final leg.

The eight riders who dropped out either chose to or were forced to retire.

Moir said most of those eight horses passed their veterinarian checks and could have continued, however it was the riders who were not willing to go on.

"It (the event) was closely monitored," he said. "Just to complete it is to win."

What made the sport unique was that it was not only about coming first but also about having a horse finish in good condition.

A coverted award is for the horse that comes back in the best condition. It is a nervous time for those who have crossed the finish line, waiting to find who will win that final challenge.

Bendigo Community Bank representative Adam Perrier said the resilience of the marathon community was astounding, especially in the conditions they faced.

"The safety of riders and horses is paramount in an event like this," he said.

"There is a horse float on call at all times and both drinking and checkpoints throughout the trail."

Horses which show signs they are struggling are checked by one of five veterinarians on the course. Horses declared unfit to keep going are "vetted out".

Results: Heavyweight: Mathew Gadsby 1; Paul Lengronne 2; Kathryn Priol 3.

Middleweight: Merion Lengronne 1; Debra McQueen 2.

Lightweight: Annette Chamberlain 1; Susan Sutclisse 2.

Fastest time: 34hrs 64mins and 16 sec, made by both Annette Chamberlain and Merion Lengronne.

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