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The Racing Championship Series
In this week's Spotlight, read up on the history of one of Sonoma's premier player-run events: The Horse Racing Championship Series.

"Once, during what some would call the 'Golden Age of Britannia,' there was a man by the name of ibn al'Asifa. Ibn was one of the leaders of a proud tribe of people from the icy north of the Lost Lands, and he came to Britannia in search of the fastest riders he could find, for a very important quest.

"To select the speediest in the lands, ibn had a very special race track created in the fertile farming fields of Sonoma, west of Britain. There, horse races were held each week for many months. Ibn found his champions and the quest was a success, but the races had also been so successful that he held a new season even after the quest had been completed. Sadly, the time came when ibn had to leave Britannia and, indeed, even Sosaria behind, and I stepped in to continue hosting what had always been a popular event, lest the racing season be interrupted in its prime.

"To this day, the horse races are a popular attraction on the Sonoma shard, but for a time, they spawned an interesting related sport: The Gauntlet. Now in those days, one could cast field and area effect spells in the guard zones. Even though the race track was protected by Lord British's guards, spells such as 'Wall of Stone' and 'Energy Field' could be used to impede the progress of a racer. After some outside interference with the main racing event, an idea came to me, and thus The Gauntlet was created.

"The Gauntlet was an event composed of two teams of 3 to 6 members each: the Mages and the Racers. The objective of The Gauntlet was fairly simple: The Mage team's goal was to prevent any member of the Racer team from completing four laps of the race track in less than one minute. The Racers, of course, would win the event if any single member of their team completed those four laps in less than a minute without using magic or leaving the confines of the track. Each team would don colorful uniforms, and the Mages would take to the infield of the track. The Racers would line up at the starting line, and the Mages would be allowed to prepare--but not cast--their first spells before the start of the race.

"Once the word 'go' had been given, the Mages would attempt to work together to completely block off the course from any or all of the Racers, and keep them in check until the 60 second timer had expired. The Racers each struggled to find their way through the maze of stone walls and energy fields in order to break free and complete the four laps. A great deal of strategy was involved on the part of the Mages, especially; while for the Racers, it was all about speed and skill in handling their steeds. Creativity blossomed, as well, as sometimes a member of the Mage team would sacrifice their life to the guards in order to throw a paralysis on one or more members of the Racers... a gamble, but a perfectly legal maneuver.

"The rules took some ironing out at first, but generally a good time was had by all in attendance. Usually, The Gauntlet event was held following the main weekly horse races, and prizes were awarded to the winning team. Sometimes three or four rounds of The Gauntlet would take place before everyone was too tired to stay on their feet and their mounts.

"The Gauntlet was a popular event for most of the second season of racing under my guidance as Commissioner. Eventually, though, the popularity of the event dwindled, even though it was not uncommon for either side to win the event. And since a minimum of six participants were required to even HOLD the event, it became harder to find enough people after the main races were over, and The Gauntlet gradually faded into Sonoma history. Even in Britannia, all good things must come to an end.

"The Horse Racing Championship Series still continues to this day, however, and remains a popular event. These days, of course, there are many more types of mounts involved in the races than ibn could probably ever have imagined. In a race where stamina is not a factor due to the length of the track, all mounts are equal, and races have been won on the backs of horses, unicorns, ki-rin, nightmares, war horses, llamas, ostards, ethereals, ridgebacks, and yes, even swamp dragons.

"Contributors have continued to come forth, offering a dazzling variety of prizes that range from cold hard cash, to a skeleton statue, to various magical weapons and armor, and other rares. The fourth season, since the departure of ibn al'Asifa, was completed recently with the winner claiming a prize of 250,000 gold pieces, a full set of platemail of invulnerability, and a complete set of snowy scenes of the cities of the old lands.

"More information about Sonoma's legendary Racing Championship Series can be found at http://www.sonomaquests.com/races.html."

- Drizzt of Sonoma
Dust off the ol' ridgeback and join in on the fun on the Sonoma shard, and check back next week when we'll spotlight another fantastic player-created event! As always, keep an eye on FYI for future spotlight announcements!

Published: July 2002
Please Note: Some dates are estimates as exact dates were unavailable.
Ultima Online ESRB Rating
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