Two riders, Justin Nelzen a former US Marine…
and Saskia van Heeren of South Africa…
had a thrilling gallop to the finish where Justin just pipped Saskia past the post…
Gracious to the end, Justin said “It was a team effort, two horses travel faster than one. Saskia deserves this victory as much as I do, she’s been with me the whole time. We’ve been riding 8 days and we’ve had a lot of fun. When times were tough we motivated each other- and told each other to ‘suck it up’ a few times! You have to be tough waking up with aches and pains and facing another 12 or 14 hours in the saddle. But it couldn’t have been a better experience.”
The last four riders have now crossed the finish line and this year’s Mongol Derby, on its second run, has been another enormous success.
The Mongol Derby is probably the world’s longest and toughest horse race – the first of its kind and very likely a Guinness World Record (TM). It’s a 1000-kilometre multi horse race across the wild Mongolian Steppe. 25 riders from around the world compete in the race and apart from taking part in the race of a lifetime, they also hopefully raise huge sums of money for charity projects in Mongolia.
Saskia van Heeren couldn’t have praised the Mongolians more highly: “Mongolian people are the nicest on the planet- so friendly and so giving. They made a huge effort for us, and it’s an honour to be with them and stay with them, and a privilege that they lend their magnificent horses for us.”
Yes of course, a race of this kind, and run in Mongolia, can only spring from the hallucinogenic imagination of The Adventurists – inventors of the just completed Mongol Rally and the equally crazy rickshaw runs. Chinggis Khaan helped to add his bit too of course. The race follows his legendary postal system which could relay messages thousands of miles in a matter of days. Like the mighty Khaan’s system the Mongol Derby relies on a network of horse stations (Morin Urtuu in Mongolian) stretching mile after mile across the Mongolian steppe.
This race, although billed the toughest horse race in the world, is not so much a test of the horse’s speed as of the rider’s skill and endurance. Each horse only completes 40 kms and 1000 horses are used in stages throughout the competition – outnumbering people 7 to 1. The Mongol horses are a tough and hardy little beast, spending their entire lives out on the Mongolian steppes. Although smaller than other breeds, Mongolian horses are more than capable of carrying these riders.
If you happen to be an ardent animal lover and your concern immediately concentrates on ‘the horses’, please be assured that animal welfare is of paramount importance. All the Mongol Derby horses are carefully selected and checked by vets before ever taking part. During the event the horses are treated to an extensive vet support system who respond quickly to any problems. Their first concern is the health of the horses.
Is this the sort of race you’d want to do? Me? Oh yes, like a shot. It’s right up my street, but read for yourself some of The Adventurists’ spiel:
We’re not normally a selective bunch. All sorts of snaggle-toothed and navigationally-challenged pretenders line up for our suite of fine Adventurist Adventurings every year. But this is an adventure of a different magnitude, and because the horse power is from real horses, it’s rather more serious. Only a good horseman, in fine fettle, with Herculean reserves of pluck and verve should consider this challenge. If you’re considering applying it’s important that you read and understand this warning.
You need to be able to survive this! These horses are small and semi-wild, and the terrain is massive and fully-wild.
Still want to do it?
One final bit of information. You need to be able to afford this! Like Marco Polo said of Chinggis’ Morin Urtuu system:“The thing is on a scale so wonderful and costly that it is hard to bring oneself to describe it”. Well, describe it we shall, it’s going to cost $9800 to enter. Start saving now!
Need further incentive? Watch this (rupertdaysown)…