Thursday, July 3, 2008

Countdown to Gubbio

Thursday July 3 2008

I've been known to exaggerate the heat, but the thermometer says it has been in the mid-30's in Gubbio, with significant humidity. Not like Malaysia humidity, but enough to make my clothes stick to my skin and to make my hair frizz. However, Fausto said, that should not matter. "You should ride your horse according to the conditions - the weather, the track. Last year we had 51% completion rate and it was 35*, and no major treatment of horses."

The sky is clear in the mornings, but by 1 PM, thunderclouds start building somewhere in the sky. By late afternoon, there is a rainshower and thunderstorm within sound range (if you can hear thunder) or sight. Yesterday evening it suddenly got dark when the layers of clouds clashed directly overhead, whipping a cool wind through the narrow, labyrinthine streets, sending restaurant owners chasing after their blowing-away signs, and short-sleeved Gubbians running for their doorways. The lights flickered a few times, and a small half-hearted rain shower got one side of the street wet. The weather should be the same for Saturday's races.

Today by afternoon, over a dozen horses, and some extra riders, had arrived at the stables.

Team Argentina - Mercedes Tapia, Clara Taddeo, and Facundo Larrere arrived at the Gubbio train station; they called Fausto, who said he'd find a driver and call them back. He found the driver, but when he tried to call Mercedes back, the number had disappeared from his phone. One more headache... but, "what can I do?" Just keep working on something else - like drive to one place that is making the banners and check on their progress: they weren't quite ready yesterday as planned.

The three Argentinians arrived later and were strolling about the grounds, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jean Phillipe Frances with the horses he is bringing for them to ride.

Lanal and Leonie Van Nieuwenhuizen from South Africa arrived yesterday evening, after spending a few days touring Milan, Venice and Rome; Leonie
will be riding a horse of Italian veterinarian Dr Marcello on the 120 km Roman Theatre race. He is returning the favor as they supplied a horse for him to ride in South Africa.

By this evening, the endurance village was almost completed: vet lanes and finish lane lined out; white picket fences up; sponsor banners lining the fences; bar/cafe prepared and chairs and tables set up; electrical power installed; sound system working.

Just a few more finishing touches tomorrow morning, and we're ready to roll, with registration beginning at 10 AM, and vet inspections beginning at 3 PM.

In the evening, the Park Hotel ai Cappuccini is hosing the Opening Ceremony and ride briefing, followed by a Welcome Dinner.

Welcome to the 2008 Gubbio Nations Cup!

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