Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mongolia: B.C. woman enters world’s toughest horse race

Vancouversun.com - Full Article

By Aleesha Harris, Vancouver Sun
July 16, 2012

An ‘average ranch girl from Canada’ to participate in gruelling 10-day Mongol Derby

Riding 1,000 kilometres through the mountainous terrain of Mongolia in what is considered the longest, toughest horse race in the world may sound like torture to many people, but to Vancouver Island resident Katherine Friedley, it sounds like the adventure of a lifetime.

The 46-year-old horsewoman will represent Canada as one of 35 international competitors in a 10-day race through the Mongolian steppe known as the Mongol Derby, beginning Aug. 10. The race follows Genghis Khan’s pony express postal system route.

“Everyone I’ve talked to about this has been so excited for me. It sometimes blows me away that here I am, just your ordinary Canadian woman, off to Mongolia,” Friedley said.

Friedley now lives near Saanich, but she grew up on her family’s cattle ranch in Alberta, near the eastern slopes of the Rockies. In other words, Friedley – who has chosen the nickname Outlaw Kate for the derby – is no stranger to long days in the saddle.

She credits her father, who continues to run the family’s cattle operation at age 88, with her wealth of horse knowledge and her deep respect for the powerful animals.

But she’s still nervous about what’s in store.

“When I first signed up for the race, I did it on gut instinct alone. I know I can compete and I have the utmost faith in my capabilities not only as a rider, but as a navigator, and as a closet survivalist.

“However, once I began checking out my fellow competitors I began to realize that I am in it with the big boys. There are people who are professional equestrians, experienced endurance riders … I am just an average ranch girl from Canada...”

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