Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mongol Derby: Justin pips Saskia in a thrilling final dash for the line!

Eight days into the majestic Mongol Derby, US rider Justin Nelzen has crossed the finish line to claim victory from Saskia van Heeren of South Africa. After 1,000kms riding together the margin was narrow, just a few lengths, and both were jubilant after a final sprint for the line on a fine pair of horses.

Justin was hardly out of breath. Having initially made an assault on the finish line last night and been forced to turn back in a downpour of biblical proportions, they had a great run in for the final leg this morning. Said Justin, "We were out in front last night, decided to take it easy this morning, no need to push the horses, we could afford to just look after them. About 300m out, Saskia gave me the nod and we 'turned the horses loose' to see what they had, and raced to the end. The horses were great, they look great, Saskia and I feel great, the Mongolian people have been great!”

He was full of praise for his team-mate, a Derby veteran from the inaugural race in 2009. "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."

Justin found much to admire on his journey; "The scenery is absolutely beautiful. And the people- they take such good care of you. To get to know them- such gracious people, such wonderful horses- was the highlight."

When asked what his immediate plans were, he didn't hesitate; "I'll be taking a hot shower if I can find one!" more

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