originally posted by Katherine at 23rd August 2012 at 18:21
Race Day 1:
The night before had been an eventful one in terms of pre-race celebrations – much vodka and beer and airag had been drunk, toasts toasted, goats roasted, feats boasted. Being a lady of a certain age (I left my wild ways a few years back) I was in bed nice and early; had to use my “Mom voice” at one point to send a few young ones either to bed or out of the ger for those of us trying to sleep (“If you’re not going to sleep, then GET OUT!” I think I said, ha ha), so was feeling pretty good on the first day of the race, sore ribs and road-rash-face notwithstanding.
We had pimped our saddlebags, tested out our GPS units, had a final weigh-in of our bags and it was off to the start line. I chose a nice little bay, not too big, not too small, and noticed that he had a swastika brand on his left hip – good thing I was aware that this symbol had the more positive meaning of “well-being” in the Buddhist sense (the prevalent religious belief of the Mongolian people) than the one we associate with the Nazi interpretation. So it was me and little “Well Being” on our way to the start line, where everyone was lining up for the official countdown and start to the Derby. I had already decided to pull back and away from the mad rush of the charging start line, as I had learned the hard way what it feels like to be on a bolting horse. Poor little “Well Being”! I think he actually found a way to canter sideways and then almost backwards as I pulled him to the side to escape the madness – if left up to him I would have no doubt been in Horse Station 1 within the next two hours. My strategy was (and would remain until day 9) to pace myself, survive and arrive unscathed at the end of 1000km. None of this mad racing stuff for me! The adventure was first and foremost!
Heading up the trail with my first horse "Well Being"
I rode alone for most of the way, crossing paths with the South Africans Simon and Craig, then seeing Alya briefly before we chose different paths across the hills. I remember riding through three different wild herds of horses, seeing incredible mountainous landscapes and arriving at HS1 around the same time as Eveline. “Well Being” came in with an excellent heart rate, I grabbed a quick bite and another horse, and was off to HS2.
Somewhere along the way I met up with Ronald, Anne and Eveline again, and we arrived in HS2 with a bit of daylight to spare, finding the South Africans, Erik (who had galloped the entire way and greeted us wearing his sleeping bag), George, Jess, Alya and a couple of the UK girls, making for a full ger our first night out.