Saturday, September 19, 2015

Meet the Torontonian who spent 9 days on horseback riding across Mongolia - Full Article

34-year-old Liz Brown took part in the annual Mongol Derby, involving 36 riders and 1,220 horses. She reflects on ‘the experience of a lifetime.’

By: Liz Brown Special to the Star, Published on Fri Sep 18 2015

I thought I was hallucinating when I rode past the rotting horse carcass sprawled on a dusty trail somewhere in the middle-of-nowhere-Mongolia. But the swearing behind me confirmed my fellow rider Thomas Ellingsén had seen it too. We halted our horses and stared at the cracked, drying hide receding from the animal’s skull, wondering if it was disease, predators or starvation that had ended its time on Earth. Buzzing flies provided the only white noise in the stillness as Ellingsén brought out his camera to snap a picture, a permanent reminder of the fragility of life in the wild.

It was mid-afternoon of the fourth day of the Mongol Derby and the sun was frying our helmet-clad heads. The next horse station, where we could get more water and new mounts, was more than 25 kilometres away across a wide-open plain and over a small cluster of mountains. Only 10 minutes before, Ellingsén, 38, a rider from Sweden not used to such extreme temperatures, had vomited from heat exhaustion. My other riding companion, Paddy Woods, a 52-year-old Irish jockey, was flushed and gasping as we pressed on. This was the third day of 40 C heat and my mouth felt like it was stuffed with wadded cotton balls, my vision was blurry and my balance was starting to go. As I calculated our speed and distance on my GPS, I let out a sob. It was going to take us at least two hours to reach our next destination.

As my horse plodded on, I closed my eyes, imagining a tall glass of ice water, then licked my cracked, sunburned lips and started laughing that I’d willingly signed up for this torture. This was the adventure I’d spent 12 months preparing for and in the moment, it didn’t seem I would finish...

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