The story goes this way: In the summer of 1848, a French Canadian named Francis X. Aubry won a $1,000 bet by quickly traveling on foot and horseback 800 miles, from Santa Fe, N.M. to Independence, Mo., in 5 days and 16 hours. At that time, his was the fastest trip ever made between the two cities.
Aubry may have won, but some of his horses lost. According to the Kaw Mission State Historic Site in Kansas, six horses died along the way.
Dubbed the Great Santa Fe Trail Race because it winds across the national historic Santa Fe Trail, the inaugural event takes place from Sept. 3 – 15. But unlike Aubry’s ride, there are plenty of stops along the way.
“There are 10 separate 50-mile races,” explains Rob Phillips, Great Santa Fe Trail Race organizer and founder. “Each day there will be a pre-race vet check, two vet checks during each race, and a post-race vet check. We don’t want to lose any horses.”
According to Phillips, the Great Santa Fe Trail Race is sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference.
The riders will complete the specified distance for the day then stop and spend the night at a predetermined “race village.” Race villages, which are hosted by cities throughout the entire course of the race, serve as resting points, but are also helping to boost local economies.
“Race villages will feature vendors, food and live entertainment,” Phillips says. “Jo Dee Messina will be performing at one stop, Michael Martin Murphey at another.”
Race winners are determined by tallying race times. Each rider’s time will be recorded, and accumulated for end of the race. The rider with the shortest time overall will be declared the winner. In addition to an individual winner, team competition will exist.