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Pan American Endurance Championship Opens

Trout Lake, WA – Riders and their horses from nine countries paraded before an enthusiastic group of fans and spectators Thursday as the Pan American Endurance Championship officially opened. The 91 riders and their support crews have been arriving since last week, preparing for Saturday’s 100-mile race on trails winding through the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest.

Many of the world’s top international endurance officials are overseeing the race, which occurs every two years at different locations. The head of international endurance at the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), Ian Williams, noted endurance riding is one of the fastest growing international equestrian disciplines. He said he was very impressed with the site, the surroundings and the trail. "I think the whole of the organization and setup is conducive to what I believe will be an extremely good competition," he observed. He said that the recent cooler weather in the area could be conducive to a 60% completion rate.

In her welcoming remarks PAC organizer Stephanie Irving commended the forestry personnel and private landowners in the area who made it possible to mark out trails that will challenge some of the sport’s top endurance riders and their horses. She also observed that the international event had doubled the population of the little community of Trout Lake, which has enthusiastically volunteered its assistance to ensure a successful event.

Over the past few days the 14 teams have been familiarizing themselves with the trails that feature a variety of mountainous terrain with footing ranging from volcanic rock to soft, established trails. They have also been planning their strategy at the five mandatory vet checks that will determine the physical well being of the horses to complete the race. The general consensus appears to be that a good portion of the trails will require a technical ride, though some fast completion times are also anticipated.

Visit the PAC 2003 website at for updated information. On race day, follow the progress of the riders and get complete results at