Thursday, August 01, 2013

Extreme Ride: The Mongol Derby - Full Article

Jul 24, 2013
By: Michaela McGuire

“Only you know exactly how far you can push yourself,” says Erik Cooper, a 29-year-old New York–based bartender and furniture designer. He’s talking specifically about the Mongol Derby, the longest, most extreme horse race in the world, where last year he spent nine days racing semi-wild horses across the desert. Cooper was one of 30 or so riders from every corner of the globe that gather each August in rural Mongolia to compete in the derby, raising money for charity.

The Mongol Derby was initiated in 2009, organized by a company called The Adventurists, which offers extreme adventure experiences for the jaded, the driven and the curious. The riders who assemble at the derby’s starting line each year have one thing in common: Until that moment, they have harboured a dormant desire to prove themselves in a battle not only against each other and against nature, but against themselves. Riders have to be physically fit before embarking on the ride, but mental strength is equally paramount. “The ride does seem endless,” says Richard Allen, a writer, musician and horse trainer from Hertfordshire, England, who at 51 was one of the older competitors in the 2011 race. “You get up at dawn and get on a horse that could kill you, and you carry on doing that until it gets dark. Then you get up the next day and do it again...”

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