Friday, August 13, 2010

Mongol Derby: Justin Nelzen and Saskia van Heeren neck and neck with just 25km to go...

This year's 1000km Mongol Derby horse race across Mongolia has been tight throughout, but today two riders have broken clear of the chasing pack and are closing in on the finish line.

Justin Nelzen, a former US marine, and South African Saskia van Heeren who also raced in the 2009 Mongol Derby, are camped right now at the penultimate Urtuu (horse station) just 25km from the finish line.

Agonisingly close to the finish line, they actually set out from Urtuu 24 to try and cross the finish line today but a torrential downpour forced them back to the horse station where they're currently camped.

Racing rules only permit riding during daylight hours so as soon as dawn breaks the two riders will set out to complete their epic race, but nobody knows who will cross the finish line first.

The pair are expected to approach the finish line at 7am local Mongolian time and as the sun is about to rise in Mongolia they are most likely just about to set off.

Each Urtuu (horse station) is approximately 40km apart and most of the riders are camping at one of these stations.

Just one Urtuu behind the leading pair at horse station 23 is Madonna Harris, camping up without any other riders and currently in a strong third but probably not able to challenge for a win.

Halfway between horse stations 22 and 23 and just behind Madonna and sleeping out on the steppe are Sophie del Selliers and Richard Dyer.

And at Urtuu 22 the following riders make up the chasing pack: Camilla Speck, Anya Campbell, Hilary Ponti, Camilla Swift and Rhiannon Thomas.

Kat Swigart who bravely rode on after a fall is at Urtuu 20 along with Ann Bradbury, Elsa Post and Susi Saddler.

The riders can all be tracked online via their GPS Spot trackers, visit the Tracking Page to see who is winning.

Each Rider is raising at least £1000 for the official charities, Mercy Corps and AVSF so that the Mongol Derby makes a genuinely positive impact over and above the benefits of the race itself.

The Mongol Derby is organised by The Adventurists in partnership with Tengri Group in Mongolia.

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