Inside the Longest, Toughest Horse Race on Earth
From: ABC News
By: Gloria Riviera, Alex Waterfield and Jackie Jesko
Think you have what it takes to finish the longest, toughest, most outrageous horse race on earth? The Mongol Derby is a bone-crushing sprint through more than 600 miles of rugged Mongolian Steppe. Thirty competitors from all around the world raced through hailstorms, downpours and oppressive heat in August all on the backs of 800 wild Mongol horses. Only 18 made it to the finish line.
This year was the race’s fifth installment and for the first time, two young women were locked in battle for first place — an unlikely rivalry that ended with a shocking twist.
“Nightline” traveled to the derby’s starting line in Mongolia’s vast wilderness, where it is believed man rode a horse for the first time 4,000 years ago, and followed this group of extreme adventurers, who paid up to $10,000 for the privilege to push their physical and mental limits.
Among this year’s competitors were three Americans: Devan Horn, a 20-year-old hotshot from Houston, Lynne Gilbert, a lifelong equestrian — and at 55, one of the oldest participants — and Tom Burk, a 23-year-old Texan college grad, who somewhat ironically recently entered landed a job as a risk management analyst.
“I think if there’s one thing I’ve learned about working in risk… it’s that you got to take it when you can,” Burk said.
The night before the race, derby organizer Katy Willings raised a glass of the Mongolian national cocktail airag, fermented mare’s milk, for a toast. After the toast, Burk accepted a challenge from a native Mongolian — a wrestling match. Unfortunately, Burk injured his shoulder and had to see the medic.