Day 7

A HUGE, HUGE thank you to the Michalakis family, Markella, Dimitra and Gabriella for no less than 70 rhino bracelets that was handed to me today at the SA Lipizzaner performance in Kyalami. They will travel with me to Mongolia, and remind the people that wear them, and the people they come in contact with, about our truly South African Rhino Orphanage and the amazing work they do to protect our next generation of rhino’s. You make us all so very proud!
And there is NOTHING like a pre-derby massage!! 2013-07-21 12.40.35

2013-07-21 13.07.49

Day 8

Weight. Always an issue. Always a struggle for both the overwight and the too thin. Always a topic, and always seeking a new diet. And now a pivot point in the Mongol Derby.
Ready to ride weight – no problem. 5kg only for everything you want to take with you for 8 days – different story! Beats dieting hands down.
I have been putting off this day for the past month. Today was crunch time – and yes, despite my careful planning I had to ditch some. All of a sudden days on the steppe are looking a bit different. No more fancy inflatable mattress, even LESS clothing (about down to a spare pair of knickers!). Drugs no compromise. They are going with!!
So weight – you can tell me nothing about it….

Day 9

Down to single digit, and somehow it reminds me of passing my university exams – expecting great euphoria, it turns out to be a normal working day. Biorhythm not great as it now will be Air-Link seeing me off at the airport. Coping mechanism won’t be waiting for the steppe…..

Day by day schedule for Pre Race Training Mongol Derby 2013
Thursday August 1st ­ PRT Day 1
10am meet for Pre Race Training Day 1. 5th Floor Business Centre, Ramada Hotel,
Ulaanbaatar. Until 4.30pm
All riders, all international crew. These will be lecture­ format briefings, spiced up by regular changes of presenter, some exciting and expensive learning aids, and the fact that you are only THREE DAYS AWAY from starting the Derby
Please bring your riding kit­ we will weigh out the riders at 85kgs dressed to ride in UB, where we have some hope of a flat surface. This prevents the embarrassing outcome that we have no idea how much the riders weigh when they set off, as the scales are on grass and can’t give an accurate reading….
Please also bring your horse and equipment deposits: £400 in cash, in an envelope, with your name on.
10am welcome and intro ­ Katy. Schedule for the week
All morning, Tom takes riders’ GPS units and uploads course ­ continuous 10.15 ­ Overview of the rules and protocols ­ Katy, Maggie
Sessions on outside assistance, penalty system
Distribute On the Steppe Packs and Vet cards.
11.00 ­ Course briefing, Katy
Distribute maps
11.45 ­ Navigation, GPS tips ­ Katy and Tom
Distribute SPOT trackers
12.30 ­ Safety, emergency response ­ SPOT tracking, camping out protocols All ­ SPOT test.
13.00 ­ Riders to weigh out ­ 85kgs in kit
14.00 resume
14.00 ­ Harry Vet briefing
14.30 ­ Dr Chris Abbott Medic briefing
15.30 ­ Katy ­ media on the steppe ­ a quick how­to, registering of phones and practice SMS updates. Updating of Media Hit List for submission to Press Office in the UK and Shot List for Richard Dunwoody
Any other business; last updates to rider’s emergency contact details, rider websites.
4pm ­ CLOSE
7pm Hazara restaurant ­ feasting and merriment ­ all riders and international crew. This is optional, it should cost around MNT15,000 a head, or around £7, so won’t break the bank.

Friday 2nd August ­ PRT Day 2
9am: Meet at Adventurists HQ, next to State Department Store, for transfer to start line. Don’t be late
Please leave all excess luggage at your hotel and bring ONE HAND LUGGAGE SIZED BAG for us to transfer from the start to the finish on your behalf. Everything else must get from start to finish on you and your horses, or stay in UB.
12.30 arrival at start camp. Lunch
Afternoon­ 1st test­ride.
Saddle and tack distributed to riders. Rigging of tack
1.30pm ­ Riders to go down to horse line ger by ger (so groups of 5) at 15 min intervals. This means each rider gets 1­1 attention while tacking up and handling the horses.
Headshot and portrait shots with Malou, en route to horse line. 3 mins with each rider. Richard Dunwoody out and about photographing riding, tacking up, intros to the horses
Tea and coffee in the dining tent for riders waiting to go down to horse line. Medical training and practical sessions with Dr Chris Abbott in the dining tent.
All riders out for 1­2 hours, just getting comfortable with the horses, kit optional. 2 vets plus Maggie on the horse line taking heart rates for the riders and discussing recovery etc.
6.30pm ­ Group photography shots, as directed by Richard Dunwoody. All riders, riders by nation, all riders plus crew, vets, medics, etc etc.
7.30 pm: Dinner. Fire and sing­song/poker tournament/whatever people fancy

Saturday 3rd August ­ PRT Day 3
8.30 am: Breakfast ­ eat well, this will be a long day
9.30 am ­ 11.30am­ 2nd test ride, with full kit, including navigation. Riders will depart in small groups, ger by ger at 15 min intervals, navigating to a point they have loaded onto their GPS c.6kms away. Should take an hour there and back.
As riders return they must untack their horses and tie them on the line. Optional hobbling masterclass and camping out advice from Unenburen.
12.30pm onwards ­ Pack lunches in the dining tent ­ pick up and grab whenever you are free
Afternoon­ As much faffing with your kit and equipment as you need ­ go down to the horse line and borrow a horse to test out different rigging arrangements, and get help from Maggie and Charles with this.
The Launch Party Begins…
3:30pm ­ mini Naadam courtesy of Unenburen. Watch local 6 year olds outride you on their
finest and fastest horses, toast them with airag and marvel at the skill and spirit of Mongolian horseracing.
7pm Dinner ­ a Mongolian Banquet
8pm ­ Traditional Mongolian concert of music and dance
9pm ­ the After party. More Mutton. More Music. More Airag. More Fire. More Fun
Some media to be invited to attend the launch ceremonies. Expect some interviews. No formal press conference, it will be informal and low­key.

Sunday 4th August ­ LAUNCH DAY
7.30 am: Breakfast
8.00am : Rider 5kgs kit allowance weigh out, with Maggie and Charles
All other kit to be packed and left neatly inside your ger doors for collection by the Event Crew and transfer from Start Line back to UB, and later to the Finish Line. Please pack up everything you are not carrying on the horse.
9.00am: to the horse line to tack up, mount up and warm up. Final interviews and media access. 9.30am: to the start line, warm horses up properly for a racing start. Lamas to bless the riders, and be addressed by the Organisers.
10:00am ­ Start gun fires.

Day 11

Friends and colleagues are now constantly asking “when are you leaving?”.  Or I should rather say friends are asking that, and colleagues are asking “are you still here next week?”. Thank you very much for your concern, I’m only going to have my butt plastered to a pony for a 1 000 km!!  The reality is that it is quite a shock to hear “in 11 days” come out my mouth, full knowing in 2 days time I will be down to single digits!!

And THE LIST……  All I can say is that I am slogging at it, and thank goodness a tick or two for ‘have done that’ does appear every day. Riding had to take a back seat again for 3 days, but as from tomorrow – To Infinity And Beyond!

Day 15

I have always wanted more time in a day, more days in a week and more weeks in a month.  Last week this time I was mentally prepared to leave in two weeks time, and “squirreling” about all that still needed to be done.  VAT submitted – will be done by Monday.  Enough horse and dog food – check. Wages sorted for the end of the month – check.  Enough money in the right accounts – check.  Emergancy number listed – check.  Angela and Judy on standby in case of emergancy while husband is working – check.  Relevant accounts paid – check.  Relevant shopping done – not yet.  Medication picked up – not yet.  List of to do written down – NOT YET!

And then I realized I have an exstra week before I leave!  Bargain!! No need to squirrel!!

The morel of the story……….

Extra time all of a sudden does not mean one necessarily gets things done in less of a rush or more easily.  Where am I a week later?  No further than the week before, so I’m squirreling again!!

BUT – I did get lots of riding in, and have so far spent a much needed, awesome weekend with our two kids, caught up on some sleep and took my feet of the rushing train of life for a moment.  By Monday I will have the strength and motivation to pack lots into a day again.  I am a person who performs better under pressure.

So I don’t really need more time in a day, more days in week or more weeks in a month.  I just need to buckle down.

Day 22

I have picked up my tail and went riding today.  The cold morning nearly convinced me that sitting in front of the fireplace watching tennis would be a much better idea, but I also knew that  by the evening I would feel so guilty that I would be cross with myself.  And as always the most difficult part of the entire exercise was getting out of bed.

Now I realize getting out of my sleeping bag somewhere on the Mongolian steppe will NOT be the only difficult part, and will be accompanied by real tiredness, being stiff and sore, dirty and with the probable/definite fact that I would hit the deck at some point (again).  Ah, what we would do to ride a Mongolian pony…….

Day 24

Despite the fact that it was not in the cards for me to finish Fauresmith on horseback, I enthusiastically finished with every rider from the first to the last.  It was typical Fauresmith freezing weather, I was wrapped up warm as toast on my chair, and have to confess with some Orange River Muscadel in hand from early morning.  The picture tells the story……

This was not only a week of solidifying frienships, but making new friends, sharing the dissapointments and glories, but one that stilled my concern that I might not be quite fit enough.  Watch out wild ponies!!!!! image

Day 25/Fauresmith day 2

I now have unfinished business at Fauresmith.  It is with great disappointment and sadness that  I was pulled from the field after the second leg on the second day due to lameness of my horse.  But in this sport it is about the animal and not the person.  Thank you tremendously to my unbeleivable grooming team, husband Kurt, Johan and Henta Greef and Connie, to Lucia Jacobs for her horse Mahlik, and Ami de Wet Snr for letting me ride with him today.  Without all of you I would not have come this far!

Licking yhe wounds with a glass of good red wine….image