Friday, November 27, 2015

Riding ‘Mongol Derby,’ The Longest Horse Race On The Planet - Full Article

November 25, 2015
By: Erik Cooper

Horses are the ‘vehicle’ of choice in the wilds of Mongolia, where an adventure event each year draws competitors from around the globe. Our correspondent was there to take part in the action.

Riders from a dozen countries converge upon Mongolia to test their skills and luck in the Guinness Book of World Records’ recognized longest horse race on the planet — The Mongol Derby.

Organized by The Adventurists, riders in the event race atop the semi-wild horses of the steppe for 1,000km through the Mongolian wilderness.

They are only allowed 11lbs of essential survival kit — no changes of clothing and no back-ups in case something breaks. For navigation, riders are armed with a GPS device and crude intuition to guide them.

World’s Longest Horse Race

In its 6th year, the Mongol Derby is a multi-horse race taking influence from Genghis Khan’s legendary postal route. The system relied on a vast network of horse stations manned by the nomadic herding families of the steppe.

Throughout the 10-day race, riders live with these same herding families and race in the hoof prints of those ancient messengers.

The Mongolian families are the heart of the race; they open their homes and condition their horses for the Western riders.

Riders race 13.5 hours a day, and they switch horses in pony-express-fashion, sometimes four times a day. It’s really an ultimate test, both mentally and physically, that pushes riders to the absolute limit!

I was one of these scrappy, questionably-sane competitors in 2012, and this year I was offered the opportunity to return to the steppe and experience the race as a crew member, heading the Bloodwagon — essentially scraping broken riders off the dirt and performing search and rescues...

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