Friday, July 24, 2009

Mongolia: Controversy continues over Mongolian race - Full Article

July 24, 2009

Both sides have invoked the memory of Genghis Khan, and both seem as intractable as the mighty Mongol warrior, as the war of words continues over the merits of a 1000km horse race across the Mongolian steppes.

CuChullaine O'Reilly, founder of the Long Riders' Guild, has attacked the race, voicing fears for the wellbeing and safety of the horses and riders.

O'Reilly has raised concerns around the experience of some riders, the ability of the small local horses to carry larger-framed foreigners between race stations, and the dangerous and difficult nature of the terrain.

However, The Adventurists, the firm organising the event, says veterinarian support will be in place for the relay race and riders will carry tracking devices for their safety.

Discussion forums and bloggers have weighed into the debate over the race, which will involve up to 800 horses, with some questioning whether the event is in the best interests of the Mongol herdsmen who eke out a living in the remote terrain.

On its website, The Adventurists played up the danger and adventure in the race, which will involved 25 riders racing native horses for 40km legs between horse stations manned by local herdsman.

"Having thundered out over the start line," the Adventurists website exhorted, "a crotch-pounding 1000km will stand between you and glorious victory.

"You will have to navigate your way from one station to the next single-handedly; there's no marked course and there will be huge stretches with no paths or tracks at all.

"In fact even when there are tracks there is little chance they will be going in the right direction. You will be facing the wilderness, alone ...

"Bleeding kidneys, broken limbs, open sores, sun stroke, moon stroke and a list of dangers longer than your arm stand between the you and victory."


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