With reins tightly held in one hand and a sweat-streaked white mailbag clutched in the other, the rider atop the galloping horse swiftly rounded the curve, and left a haze of dust.
As one horseman would almost fade out of sight in the distance, the dust settled and another rider would appear, clutching a mailbag. As the others before him, he didn't glance back for a second to see his pursuers.Each rider was crouched, urging his horse to move faster to beat the other Pony Express racers - figures usually equated with the Old West, when mail was delivered on horseback in white bags between St. Joseph, Mo., and Sacramento, Calif. in eight or nine days.
Initially, riders hired were in their teens, 15 to 19, of whip-thin strength and no more than 125 pounds. They carried no weapons, relying on the speed of their fresh relay horses to carry them, and the mail, to safety from Indian attacks and bandits.
One community in northwestern Cache Valley remembers the Pony Express riders, and every summer, as part of the town celebration, riders from across Cache Valley compete in the annual Clarkston Pony Express Race.
The seventh annual race at Clarkston's Pony Express Days drew four relay teams of 10 riders and 40 horses. Riders re-created the past but also enjoyed with their families and friends other activities, including a parade, rodeo and western dance.
But the highlight of the celebration is the Pony Express Race. It is a 28-mile relay, which starts in Weston Canyon, Idaho, and continue along rocky, dirt and paved roads and through mountains into Utah to arrive at the Clarkston Town Square.
"There are 10 riders on a team, and each rider will ride about three miles and relay the mailbag to other members," said Don Godfrey, winning rider and an annual participant.
The riders are staggered five minutes apart at the beginning of the race to ensure safety of the riders and the horses. Each team has an equal chance to bring the mailbag home to Clarkston.
First to ride this year into town square with a mailbag was a member of the Godfrey brothers' team of Clarkston. It's time was 1:15:08.
The winning family team comprised three sons, four grandsons, a grandfather and two friends. Members were 15 to 63 years old.