One of the longest endurance horse riding events in Australia will again take place in the Mary Valley over the Easter weekend, with riders taking on the challenging 320km marathon as part of the Far-A-Way Easter Endurance Carnival being held at Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex.
The event will see over 200 competitors put their riding skills to the test across the program of eight rides ranging from the ‘tiny tots’ 5km ride to The Far-A-Way Marathon – a four-day, 320km event.
Far-A-Way Riders Club Secretary Saasha Grogan said riders competing in The Far-A-Way Marathon would cover approximately 80 km per day over four days, with the ride renowned for its technically challenging course in the forestry and hills of the Mary Valley.
“Depending on conditions, marathon front runners usually finish the ride after around 30 hours of riding time, so the level of commitment and endurance from the horse, the rider and their support teams is phenomenal.”
“While the marathon is timed and the leading rider awarded line honours, the focus of endurance riding is very much on the bond between the horse and rider, and both parties finishing in good condition.”
“In a physically and mentally challenging sport like endurance riding, our philosophy centres on the idea that ‘to complete is to win’.”
“It’s a demanding discipline, but nothing quite beats the feeling of successfully completing a ride with your four-legged friend and soaking up the stunning natural landscapes on horseback.”
“I really encourage anyone considering endurance riding to come and have a look as we are also hosting a number of other endurance events over the course of the weekend including a 120km mini marathon, 80km and 40m endurance rides, a 20km introductory ride and the 5km ‘tiny tots’ event for the little ones.”
Mrs Grogan said while the event had been running annually since 1986, this was the first year it would be held at Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex, having been based at Imbil Showgrounds for the last decade.
Matthew Sample, owner of Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex – Australia’s first purpose-built endurance facility – said he was delighted to welcome the Far-A-Way Club event to the complex for the marathon after they successfully hosted their end-of-year Sparkler event at the venue in both 2016 and 2017.
“Interest in the complex has certainly escalated since we were awarded the right to host the prestigious 2019 Tom Quilty Gold Cup event which will bring the nation’s top endurance riders to Imbil,” Mr Sample said.
“It’s great to see the Far-A-Way Club’s popular Easter event added to our events calendar this year.”
“Hosting events of this calibre puts our complex firmly at the forefront of people’s minds and gives us a great opportunity to showcase Imbil, the Mary Valley and the Sunshine Coast region.”
Mark Grogan, President of the Far-A-Way Riders and course designer said riders would have direct access to Imbil State Forest’s scenic forestry from the venue.
“The central location within the Imbil forest allows us to climb the adjoining Kenilworth ranges where the ride first started back in the 1980s, as well as new trails that tour past the Amamoor Creek Muster site.”
Mrs Grogan said former 320km marathon winner Annette Chamberlain would return to Imbil to vie for the top spot once again.
“Seasoned rider Scarlet McQueen will also showcase her skills after winning the title of First Junior in the 2017 ride,” she said.
“We encourage any riders with an interest in endurance events to come along this Easter long weekend and even try their hand at an introductory ride if they are new to the sport.”
The family-friendly event will be held at Stirling’s Crossing Equestrian Complex, Derrier Road, Imbil between 30 March and 2 April.
Registrations are now being accepted and the event is open to horses with current Hendra vaccination status. To nominate, visit www.faraway.asn.au, or contact Saasha Grogan on 0488 710 022 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.