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2019 Mongol Derby: the world's toughest race

Idaho’s Bob Long oldest to win Mongol Derby

TSLN.com - Full Article

August 14, 2019
Savanna Simmons

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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Free State man picks up silver medal in 'world's toughest horse race'

2019 Mongol Derby Day 8

2019 Mongol Derby Day 8

TheAdventurists.com - 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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70 Year Old Bob Wins 2019 Mongol Derby!

EverythingHorseUK.co.uk - Full Article

14/08/2019 ehuknews

In an extraordinary, seven-day demonstration of horsemanship, fortitude and navigational skill, the USA’s Robert (Bob) Long, 70, became the oldest winner of the 1,000km Mongol Derby, the world’s longest horse race.

Bob, who has a PhD in Public Health, in 2013 retired from Healthwise, a company he helped build up from the ground.

Commenting on his success Bob joked:

It’s nothing – you just ride 650 miles. There’s nothing to it,”

I’ve only stayed overnight at one horse station; I’ve been staying with local families. They’re spectacular.”

Asked how it felt to be the oldest winner of the Derby, he replied dismissively: Age is just a number.”

In doing so he battled the weather gods, who threw everything they had at the brave crazy riders, from torrential rain to burning sun and then freezing temperatures, and harsh terrain. All on the back of semi-wild, tough-as-teak Mongolian horses, who like to start the day by bucking their riders off just to show who’s boss.

Cowboy Bob, who is from Cheyenne, Wyoming but now lives in Boise, Idaho, completed the 1,000km race by changing horses 28 times...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 7

TheAdventurists.com - Full Article

August 14, 2019 Day 7: All eyes were on the trackers today and everyone was asking the same questions: Will Bob (RL) cross the finish line today? Would he stick it into overdrive and do that final push, or pace himself for a finish bright and early on Day 8? The debate was hot and heavy as pundits far and wide (and we here in HQ) eyeballed the distances between the horse stations and gleaned the airwaves for intel. Our finish camp wizards were ready for the big event with banners waving, welcoming party primping, and beer chilling in the precious little ice to be found in these parts. And while a finish on Day 7 may have been feasible considering the last two legs were faster and the last leg shorter than average, Bob slowed the pace and called it a day shortly out of HS27. Reports in from the crew indicated that he’s still riding like a rock star (and has become something of a local celebrity, with one local soum assembling an official welcoming party as he rode through) but – no surprise – he’s tired. As well he should be; it’s been seven days and several hundred kilometers under the saddle for him, and he has ridden every kilometer to the very best of his ability. He’ll be up and raring to go at 6:30 sharp though, and could well ride to the finish line by mid-morning, just in time for coffee and a bite of breakfast. Maybe then he’ll ride back to UB, just because he can. Who knows...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 7

RoisinScribbles Journal - Full Article

Published on 13th August 2019
Welcome to the update for Day 7!

The big surprise today, for me at least, was the sheer volume of riders getting off their horses and throwing in the metaphorical towel.

Alanna Watt and Holly Rivett join Molly Pearson, Ava Drake and Sam Franklin in the adventure class.

Anne Binnendijk, Abbi Bell, Patti Long and very surprisingly Ahmed Al-Ghurair retired. Harriet Bond, Erin Nagle, Rendel Rieckmann, Ella Mildon, Jacqueline Knopfel, Sally Conway and Naomi Crombeem accepted defeat and gave up on the adventure class. They join Pip Chisholm and Vasin Govender. Why did Ahmed suddenly bin and get in a car for Ulaanbaatar? Nobody seems to know.

Why at this late stage have so many riders stopped racing? I suppose it is easy, watching the race from afar, to feel like it is nearly finished. It is, for Robert. Lots of these riders are still at least two days away from the finish line, which after seven days of spending every daylight hour on a series of naughty little horses, has understandably lost a lot of its allure.

Sympathy to those who have Just Had Enough - sometimes accepting defeat is harder than carrying on. Well done for making a tough decision. Props to those who are hanging on in there, also - many riders who don't get an official finish for whatever reason reappear on the start line at a later date. It's hard leaving something so enormous unfinished.

What about the front of the race?

Today, like yesterday, belongs to Robert Long who continued to pull away in spite of the heat, the fierce competitors behind him and the distance he has ridden. How has he done it?...

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2019 Mongol Derby - Bob Vs. Statistics

The Adventurists.com - Full Story

August 12, 2019 It’s day six of the mighty 2019 Derby and all eyes are glued to screens as 71 year old Bob Long (RL), currently in first place, continues to eat up the miles enroute to the finish line. He could even cross the line tomorrow night (August 13) after seven days of brilliant riding.

Every Derby is significant in its own right, but this year’s edition is especially captivating because at age 71, Bob could be the oldest competitor to actually finish the race let alone the oldest to win it all. This brings to mind a number of ponderings: What’s the average age of competitors in the Derby? Who was the oldest winner to date? The youngest? What age group is more likely on average to produce a winner or a finisher?...

Read more here: https://www.theadventurists.com/adventures/mongol-derby/updates/#1

2019 Mongol Derby Day 6

The Adventurists.com - Full Story

August 12, 2019

Day 6:

Jump in, let’s go
Lay back, enjoy the show
Everybody gets high, everybody gets low
These are the days when anything goes

Every day is a winding road…

– Sheryl Crow

There’s only one thing certain about this race: no two Derby days are ever the same, but that just makes it more fascinating. When we closed up action on Day 5, we had the front runners gunning for HS20, a few of them camping out and expecting to rocket into the station, do a quick changeover and be well on to their way to HS21 before the rest of us had time to wipe our bleary eyes and brew a coffee. Two medical evacuations late yesterday threw a wrench into that plan, however, and HQ called a race hold for the morning of Day 6 until medical teams could get back in place. Most riders no doubt enjoyed the extra bit of R & R, especially since the weather once again did a complete 180 sometime in the night and began bucketing down...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 5

The Adventurists.com - Full Story

August 11, 2019

Day Five – We’ve reached “hump day” here at the Derby and like it or not, we have only five more days of racing excitement left. Judging by where the riders were situated at the close of racing this evening, we still expect to see a winner (or two) (or three) (I think our record so far is three) on day seven – a mere two days from now – barring extraordinary circumstances. When you consider what these riders have endured thus far, the circumstance would have to be extraordinary indeed to put a stick in their spokes at this point.

Let’s have a look at where things stand:

At the front of the pack, Bob (RL) is within yodelling distance of HS20 tonight, his navigation prowess and sheer unmitigated grit blowing him past HS19, where he did a respectable 19-minute changeover. “Holy cow!” we exclaimed at HQ. “He’s gunning for HS20! Does this guy ever stop?” No, apparently he does not. His erstwhile riding companion Ahmed (AA), having sat out a two-hour heart rate penalty at HS17, parked it at HS18 tonight...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 5

RoisinScribbles Blog - Full Story

Published on 11th August 2019
by Roisin Magee

Welcome to Day 5 of racing!

You have to take your hat off to these riders. Although day 5 is when the reality of the distance starts to bite, it has taken this long for one of the front runners to succumb.

Sally Conway started the day at the front of the race, but she finished it in the blood wagon. What on earth happened? Radio silence from the organisers. She's in UB presumably being checked out by doctors, so possibly an involuntary dismount - rotten, rotten luck and wishing her the speediest possibly recovery. The race won't be the same without this gritty cowgirl from Taroom, Queensland (Australia) raising money for mental health awareness and support in rural communities. A fantastic cause as this is a serious issue for country people living in isolation - you can donate online here.

Naomi Crombeem joined her; less of a surprise only because Rachel Roman had been forced to leave her behind at HS12 earlier in the day. She's sick. No further details here, either, but every year as exhaustion kicks in riders' bodies start to fail in a variety of weird and wonderful ways. This can be chafing, injuries, heatstroke, hypothermia or just a plain old spot of puking and … I won't go into details. Alanna Watt's mum reads this with her cup of tea in the morning.

What riders who are not experienced in ultra-endurance events (that's everyone other than Sampie as far as I'm away) may not realise is that you don't always get fair warning. Everything is manageable until it suddenly isn't and tired riders do not have razor sharp reflexes...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 4

TheAdventurists.com - Full Article

August 10, 2019

Day Four – what a day this has been for one and all. We’ve had riders stretched between horse stations 11 and 16 with the lead swapping around like a game of three card monte, keeping HQ on their collective toes and our field crews on the move. The weather on the steppe did a complete flip-flop from wet, cold, and dreary to hot, dry, and bleary, putting the riders’ nerves, reserves, water supply, and limits to the test. Mother Nature Mongolia Style – she’s not for the faint of heart. The change in temperatures also brought a new wrinkle with respect to racing strategy: the cold damp weather may have made for a miserable ride, but it may have also helped keep those horses’ heart rates down. Holy heart rate penalties, Batman! After a veritable scarcity of penalties in the first three days of racing, the vets were busy today handing out heart rate penalties, marking up those pristine vet record cards that the riders guard with their lives.

This is not to say that the riders are riding irresponsibly – quite the contrary...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 3

TheAdventurists.com - Full Story

August 9, 2019

Derby Day Three and it’s been three days of ride-rinse-repeat here (emphasis on the “rinse” – the rain has been relentless) on the steppe, and we are starting to see a more definitive split between the front runners and the back-packers. At the front end, the rat pack of 21 riders pushed on through five-horse stations to bring race action to horse station 12 – a mere 350+ ish km from the start line. Only 650+ more kilometres to go, guys – a piece of cake!

The lead has toggled back and forth between the front runners numerous times during the day, and our eyeballs have been crossed trying to keep tabs on who was doing what, where and why. The superb navigation skills of Ahmed (AA) Bob (RL) kept us all engrossed as their course zigged where other riders chose to zag, but ultimately cost them some precious time in the form of technical penalties for missing some mandatory course markers...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 2

August 8, 2019

Rounding up on a very wet day two probably most demonstrated by the overcrowding at horse station seven where the leading 20 (yes 20) riders are drying out – at least they will warm up in the cosy, if somewhat smelly environment of drying clothes, socks and bodies in warm sleeping bags (whoops who forgot the dry bags eek) …. Having eaten a hearty meal of noodles around a GER fir – 5*s at least!

Meanwhile behind them at Horse Station six and Horse Station five…

Camping in a Ger about 10 km past Horse Station six is RRO … She has messaged in safe and sound. But Event Manager Louise Crosbie (LC) is still heading out to double-check.

Navigational errors including Alana Watts (AW) & Holly Rivett (HR) heading were seen heading off to Russia before corrective measures lead them back to a Derby Horse Station and Katie Hasse (KH) and Kelsey Eliot (KE) parting ways in an apparent disagreement of route...

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2019 Mongol Derby Day 1

August 7, 2019

Holy thundering hooves of wonder that was one hell of a start to the race. Currently your correspondent is exhausted after getting no sleep for a week in the run up to the launch so I apologise in advance for the brevity of this update.

After being baked in the sun for the training sessions, the riders had their first slap about the face by the weather of Mongolia. The skies opened just as the riders started to tack up. What began as a slow drizzle evolved into a pre-longed soaking that made sure it was hanging around most of the day. Our concerns for the riders turned from heat stroke to hypothermia.

They lined up and ripped out into the wilderness at about 10:30am Mongolia time.

Bob Long (RL) and Frank Winters (FW) (Both hailing from the USA) pushed into the front pack showing all these young whippersnappers how it’s done. Frank somehow managed sneak out of HS2 forgetting to go through the vet check and came right back to loose his place in the front herd and leaving Bob to continue to show some most marvellous horsemanship…

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