TSLN.com - Full Article
August 14, 2019
Bob Long had to pass a vet check at each horse station, including the very last, in which his horse’s heart rate had to be at or below 56 beats per minute within half an hour of his return in order to not receive a penalty. He received no vet penalties throughout the entire race.
While Robert Long celebrates a victory the 70-year-old has yet to realize the vast audience that closely tracked his progress in the United States. Long is the oldest man to win the Mongol Derby. The Wyomingite, who now resides in Idaho, finished the 1,000 km race, which is a nod to Genghis Khan’s horse messenger system, with the statement “My horse just won the Mongol Derby. It’s nothing, you just ride 650 miles on a death march. There’s nothing to it.”
The semi-feral Mongolian steppe horses are swapped out every 35 to 40 km and are vetted at each horse station. Long began a slow race, so much so that his partner Stephanie Nelson said they hadn’t really taken any photos of him (other than one of his involuntary dismount day one), so when he made his move and neared the front of the pack, the race organizers were scrambling for photos.
“They loved his demographic,” she said. “They thought he would ride two legs and fall off.”
The second-place rider South African Weisman Nel encountered a vet delay early in the race but managed to sneak up from behind to finish two hours after Long. Some of the 42 other riders are still making the trek to the finish line.
“Bob isn’t just the oldest, he has ridden better and stronger, camping out more than anyone else,” said Tom Morgan, founder of The Adventurists, the race organizers. “We opened up the course this year to make navigation a key skill again, and Bob absolutely nailed it. The man is tougher than a box of concrete...”
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