.... It's amazing what a passion will persuade people to do. I'd been asked to cover the endurance race being held at Sakkara Country Club under the auspices of the Pan Arab games. Teams from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE were to race 120 km in the desert in a series of five loops with vet checks at the club. Unfortunately, the start of the race was scheduled for 5:45 am, necessitating a 5 am wake up. Happily, there was excellent catering at the race and once the teams of riders got underway, we were able to find a good breakfast while waiting for them to finish the first loop. Endurance racing really is not a spectator sport. There isn't much to see of the racing part because the riders are very quickly usually stretched out over miles of trail, each essentially riding alone. Once they get back to the vet check area, the horse is checked to see that its pulse and respiration have dropped to normal, and then there is a half hour hold for the horse and rider to eat and drink something before setting out again. Exciting, right? I overheard one nicely dressed woman remarking to a friend that this was the first endurance race she'd ever seen and probably the last too. She'd never spent so much time in her life "watching horses get bathed." A major part of the preparation for the vet check is to cool the horse from its exertions in the desert to the point where its heart rate is low enough to pass muster.
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