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There is never any dispute that the Western States Trail Ride, commonly known as the Tevis Cup, is the granddaddy of all endurance rides. We are the top-ranking US 100-mile event in nearly everything: Total years running, number of entrants, number of finishers, and… cost to start. With an annual entry fee of $450 – many riders may wonder, where do my entry fee dollars go?
People may be surprised to learn that the ride isn’t structured to make very much income for the Western States Trail Foundation, the organizing charitable body behind the event. Our fee structure is based around a break-even point of the recent average number of riders. In fact, the $450 fee that most riders pay, barely covers their cost to participate. Which is why we are thankful for our Sponsors, Donors, and Signature Riders, who help to ensure the ride does not run at an annual loss.
Why are things so expensive? Because of all the agencies, landowners and challenging logistics to run such an event. By far our largest expense category, at nearly $35,000 annually, is our fees, licenses, insurance and permits. WSTF has contractual obligations and fees due which include the American Endurance Ride Conference, Auburn State Recreation Area, United States Forest Service, California Department of Food & Agriculture, Foresthill Mill Site, Robie Park Equestrian Campground, Gold Country Auburn Fairgrounds, traffic control at Highway 49, bus service for Robinson Flat, mandatory ambulance coverage for Foresthill, CA State equine drug testing and more.
Our next largest expense is the cost to operate 19 different ride checkpoints (12 vet checks). With 100-miles of unique trail, the logistics of moving our veterinary staff, farriers and volunteers from check to check and keeping the flow of the ride uninterrupted is not a small task. Tevis employs 15 different veterinarians and multiple ride farriers. I think everyone can agree we are getting a true bargain to have such incredible staff, and pay for their accommodations, at a cost of about $18,000. Other checkpoint expenses include a donation to our sweep riders, communications team, gas for volunteers using their personal vehicles to haul out pulled horses, volunteer shirts and various other checkpoint supplies including rider and horse amenities. These average around $14,000.
Utilities such as porta-potties, water trucks, electricity, internet connections and the webcast hosting fees are the next key expense. These run about $13,500. Then there are many other items which your entry fee supports, such as the rider’s ticket to the Sunday awards banquet, cost of trail marking materials, including the glowbars used for the overnight portion, various ride research projects the WSTF supports funding for, and many other miscellaneous expenses.
The larger expense categories stated above do NOT include items and functions which should pay for themselves, such as the Tevis Forum publication, the Wednesday and Friday night meals, completion buckles and stall rental fees.
Taking all these items into consideration, and using the last 5-year’s statistics, we generally start about 160 riders (average over the past 5 years) at a cost of around $445/rider – which, until this year, was MORE than the actual entry fee. Again, this is why the Signature Rider Program, Sponsors, Vendors, and other donations are so critical.
Now, if you’ve been a good student and following along on your spreadsheet, you may be wondering – but what about the LARGEST expense of all? The one you haven’t even mentioned? What about the year-round cost of maintaining, clearing and improving over 100-miles of trail and staging areas? How is that funded? Well, by YOU! Any profit the ride makes, any donations, and our other year-round fundraising efforts are directed to achieving our overall goal: to preserve the historic significance of this route and majestic riding trail penetrating the wild beauty of mountain peaks and valleys crossed by explorers, settlers and gold-seekers. So to all who contribute, whether by riding, volunteering, sponsoring, donating, or even just helping to spread the word, this event is a success due to you and we thank you for your support.
Treasurer, WSTF Board of Governors