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2006 AERC National Championship Hits the Trail

Ca.—Endurance riders from around the country will face the test of time and terrain when they compete for national titles at the 2006 American Endurance Ride Conference (AERC) National Championship in October. The championship, sponsored by Gulf Coast 4 Star Trailers, will be held October 20-22 in Fort Valley, Virginia, on the trails of the historic Old Dominion Endurance Ride. The Old Dominion, first held in 1973, is considered by many to be the most prestigious endurance competition in the eastern United States.

The 100-mile national championship will take place on October 20 and the 50-mile championship will be held on October 22. Competitors qualify for the championship by completing a minimum of 300 miles in AERC competition with their horse and earning a top-five placing in their weight division or by having 1,000 or more miles together as a team.

Riders will follow a course that is rich in both scenery and history as they climb over the beautiful Blue Ridge and Massanutten Mountains during the height of fall foliage along trails that wind through the Shenandoah National Park.

AERC President Stagg Newman of Candler, North Carolina, considers the trails to be the ultimate challenge for endurance riders.

“The 2006 AERC National Championship will combine the challenge of a tough course with awesome scenery over historic trails,” said Newman, who has won the Old Dominion Endurance Ride three times. “Completing the 100 miles of tough, rocky Old Dominion trail requires the highest degree of horsemanship, which is the essence of what endurance riding is all about. It's not about speed, it's about pace and heads-up riding.”

Newman added, “When fording the Shenandoah River in the light of dawn, it is easy to imagine Stonewall Jackson's cavalry crossing during the Civil War. When climbing the trail Colonel Morgan made at the direction of General Washington as an escape route to Fort Valley for the Colonial Army in case Washington lost at Yorktown, one can imagine wagon trains traversing the rugged terrain.”

The 2006 AERC National Championship will be staged from Fort Valley Stables, just south of the historic Fort Valley area. According to event manager Bob Walsh, competitors can expect a well-marked trail that is both challenging and fair to their horses. “The fastest horses may not win these rides, but the smarter riders could,” said Walsh.

Paul Zeck, president of Gulf Coast 4 Start Trailers of Willis, Texas, said, “Without question, the trail is one of the most scenic places in the country and the organizing committee has always done a super job with the ride. Gulf Coast 4-Star is proud to be a sponsor of this great event.”

Zeck’s wife, Gail, will compete in both the 50-mile and 100-mile championship on two different horses. “Our sponsorship with AERC is a good thing for both our company and AERC. Gail and I enjoy giving back to a sport that has provided us with an outlet for our passions,” said Zeck, whose company also sponsors the AERC National Best Condition Award.

For more information about the 2006 AERC National Championship, visit. http://www.olddominionrides.org or http://www.aerc.org. For images contact jnice@ridemediagroup.com.


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