by marlys good
Thirty-two riders from South Dakota, Nevada, Idaho, North Dakota, Colorado, Oklahoma, Georgia, Washington and New Mexico joined fellow riders from Wyoming at the Mel Picht Ranch in the wee hours Saturday and at 4 a.m. began the arduous 100-mile trail up, over and back down the Big Horn Mountains in the 47th annual Big Horn 100.
Over 13 hours later Hannah Pruss from South Dakota and Suzanne Ford Huff of Nevada finished the race with identical times of 13:35 to tie for top honors.
Twenty-six completed the ride; two from New Mexico had the misfortune to get off the trail in the dark and ended up in Boulder Basin where they spent the night. Big Horn County Search & Rescue found them Sunday morning and they were cold but otherwise fine.
Cindy Collins of Cody finished the ride, giving her 1,000 completion miles in the Big Horn.
Tom Knoll from Idaho was honored as the first recipient of the Marirose Six award as a “positive supporter of the Big Horn 100.” Spokesman Jeanette Tolman said Six died of cancer earlier this year. “She was a completely positive person and uplifted everyone around her.” She competed in the Big Horn in 2014 (she won the ride in 2007, and her mule Lucky Six Nellie received the Best Condition award). “She knew it would be her last ride, but she never let on she was sick. She was a true inspiration to everyone on the ride.”
Tolman said Knoll has “been a staunch supporter of the Big Horn 100 for years. This was his seventh completion. He was a huge inspiration to all the riders there.”
There were five starters and all of them completed the 75-mile ride. Cndy Barbo from Duluth, Minn., completed the ride in 12:38, with Jodi Johannosson, also of Duluth, just a minute off the pace at 12:39.
Sierra Kahl of Gillette won the 50-mile ride with a time of 7:05, and Sue Lyke, of Powell, on “Sunny,” finished just off the mark but Sunny received the coveted Best Condition award.”
Of the 17 starters, 15 finished the course.
There were 40 horse trailers parked at the Picht Ranch in Shell. The pre-ride banquet at the ranch Friday evening featured barbecued ribs and all the trimmings prepared by Cat Marcus with Martha Stricker and other donors helping it all come together.
There was a pre-ride meeting that introduced all the riders, covered the trail, the stops and conveyed general information.
Veterinarians Lyle Bischoff of Powell (15 years as head vet), Allen Goffredson of Greybull and Bryon Neves of Burlington performed the pre-ride checks and were also at the trail stops Saturday.
Tolman said everyone connected with the Big Horn 100 noted the absence of Tom Van Gelder, a mainstay of the ride since it began in 1971. He moved to Iowa after the 2014 ride and celebrated his 90th birthday on July 1 with his family. He was missed, said Tolman.
Ride organizers also recognized the radio crew headed by Ernie Smith for keeping contact at all times on the trail, the Forest Service and BLM for permitting the annual rides, and “all the volunteers who make the ride possible.”