originally posted by Katherine at 23rd August 2012 at 19:21
Race Day 8:
I set out with Lucy, Jess and Eveline for what was to be our second last day of riding. Even though we had expected 10 days to finish the race, with the majority of the field nearing the finish line, 9 days was it. Not in a position to argue, we carried on – what else was there to do? It turns out quite a lot, as we later caught up to Erik who said he had spent more than a day at one horse station where he assisted with the milking and the cleaning of pens. What a man! It seems if anyone got his money’s worth out of this whole shebang, it was Erik. We may not have been the fastest group going, but I suspect that our collective experiences were by far the most colourful, eventful, memorable and tragic, all rolled into one.
The star of the movie "Mongol" - no, not me - the horse!
And the movie star's owners - the good people who served us beer for breakfast
But back to the riding – we four ladies made excellent time on what finally seemed like consistently matched horses. We roared into HS21 with plenty of time, and made it to HS22 in record time considering our horses would not move faster than a slow trot. “We got the the pack horses this time” Eveline said. Checking my official horse description sheet it said “Good condition, racey type, quite a young 4, not an idiot’s ride” and I wondered, not for the first time, who had switched my horse’s number with one you had to put up stakes in order to judge its movement? I could have easily run 45km faster on foot myself, I kid you not.
Anyways, we made it to 22 and set out for part way between 22 & 23, knowing we could easily do the balance of the course the following day. We were as good as done! We had horses that were willing to move (a few of them had a tendency to bolt as a matter of fact) and had paid a couple of Mongolian men 40,000 tugriks to guide us to a ger before it got dark.
Out came the famous blue sleeping bag once again, and as a bedtime story, I counted up the odometer readings on my GPS for the other ladies: I had recorded 915km more or less, with two legs unaccounted for, so was easily looking at 995km so far. It really became apparent that this is not really a 1000km race – you can easily add at least 20% on depending on how you detoured around lakes, rivers or mountains (or vicious dogs, or whether or not you went into soums for a Coca-Cola fix). Those who rode each and every leg had ridden quite a distance indeed, and I was slightly in awe of that fact.
We all heaved a weary yet happy sigh – again, even though disqualified, nobody could say we didn’t ride quite a distance. All that was left was to make it to finish camp in one piece. As if our day hadn’t been good enough already, as a final gesture of goodwill, one of the boys in the ger (seeing I was going to cover myself with my crinkly silver survival sheet as an extra layer) came over and tenderly covered me with his deel. I fell asleep almost instantly and dreamed for the first time since beginning the race.
Lucy goes for a whirl in a real Mongol saddle