Thursday, August 15, 2019

2019 Mongol Derby Day 8 - Full Article

August 14, 2019
It was a beautiful sunrise on the steppe this morning, and the crew at finish camp was up at the crack of ridiculous, getting ready for the flourish of riders set to cross the line today. As trackers sprung to life across the board, eyes turned to the horizon hoping to catch that first glimpse of Mongol Derby’s 2019 champion. At the close of business last night, it was Bob (RL) parked just beyond HS27, a mere fifty-ish kilometers from the finish line, and Wiesman (WN) thirty-some kilometers behind him. The odds were in Bob’s favour, what with his stellar, consistent riding from Day 1; but who could forget Wiesman’s come from behind? He started the race on the back foot, picking up a vet penalty on Day 1 which placed him somewhere in the middle of the pack; yet he rode his way quickly back into the ranks past the front of the chasing pack to give Bob something to think about (if he was thinking about that at all; by all reports he is a single-minded machine when he’s on a roll.) More than one Derby has been won and lost on the basis of heart rate penalties, and since Bob had a 25-minute technical penalty looming, anything could happen. Similarly, Wiesman was skating on thin ice penalty-wise with two heart rate penalties, and a third could cost him not only the race, but a place in the top five. Head vet Jeremy offered some insight into the respective strategies of Bob and Wiesman: Wiesman, an experienced endurance racer, monitors his horse’s heart rate methodically, while Bob plays to his navigation strengths by riding the straight line as much as possible. Two excellent horsemen, two serious contenders, which one would take the top honours?...

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