Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Mongol Derby: Galloping to Glory

Khaleejtimes.com - Full Article

Moni Mathews / 14 October 2012

Dubai-based Austrian veterinary surgeon, endurance rider, charity worker and adventure specialist Michaela Gradinger finished third in her very first attempt at the Mongol Derby, the world’s toughest endurance race on horse-back.
In many ways, the event, which was into its fourth chapter this year, is a multi-faceted adventure and not just an endurance race.

The lady (Michaela) who is restless when there is no challenge in life, took it upon herself to go through the tough screening process as laid down by the organisers of the 1,000km ride across the Mongolian steppes on semi wild and partially trained horses from the region outside Ulan Bator, the Mongolian capital.

Over 800 such horses are taken in by the organisers every year.

About Michaela’s performance and participation, organisers Adventurists, had words of praise about her outlook and personality that makes participating in the Mongol Derby a memorable experience for anyone passing the initial screening and acclimatisation process days before the 10-event begins.

“Michaela was a joy to have on the event and should be very, very proud of herself,” Katy of the organisers said when permission was sought to publish information from their website.

“It’s a life time experience and one for those who want an extra kick out of life. It’s all out there for one to see, feel and learn in total wilderness in a land so alien yet friendly with the people so embracing when it comes to hospitality,” Michaela, who once undertook a ride through all the emirates on a horse to raise awareness for breast cancer, told Khaleej Times.

“The additional feature of the Mongol Derby is not just the detailed screening process, but also the fact that having participated in it, one is part of a process in raising funds for the charity work aimed at improving the living conditions of the people in the Mongolian regions where the Derby takes place. It also makes it eligible for riders to go on a charity project of their choice,” Michaela had said in an interview with another publication during her pre-event months in Dubai.

Prior to the event, familiarisation with the GPS is part of the conditioning period and once the hand picked candidates set foot to the ‘kick-off’ camp in Mongolia, the organisers keep reminding the riders continuously about the life saving electronic device.

Survival equipment of any kind are welcome, such as a sleeping bag, torch and spare clothes, not to forget “the tooth brush and paste,” as Michaela said light heartedly...

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