The most famous horse race may be the Kentucky Derby. But for the last 8 years, the world’s longest and toughest horse race according to the Guinness Book of Records has been the Mongol Derby.
This year, four women from the Carolinas were accepted into the grueling competition through the Mongolian Countryside.
Two of those riders are from the Upstate, and 7News got a chance to talk to them before they leave on the journey of a lifetime.
A 21 year age difference, makes no difference when you share a passion.
In 2015, it took 59-year-old Claire Summers, with grown kids and grandkids, and 38-year-old Rachel Land, with one of her four kids still in diapers, no time to become fast friends.
“I think we are just great for each other, we get along great we have a lot of the same values, we are both very upbeat,” said Summers.
It was that Pendleton SC rider who had always wanted to compete in the world’s longest most difficult horse race; The Mongol Derby.
The 620 mile endurance ride is the equivalent of crossing the width of South Carolina three times on horse back.
“I called Claire and said, have you heard of this insane race that they do in Mongolia?” said Land, from Easley SC.
“And she’s like oh ya it’s on my bucket list to do before I’m 60. And I laugh at myself because the following week she was turning 59. So the next day she called me and said, okay I did it, I turned in my application. I signed up for the Mongol Derby and it sure would be nice to have somebody go along with me and I said well I don’t know anybody that crazy,” said Land, with a laugh.
It’s not just the outcome of the competition that is unpredictable. The horses are semi-feral. There’s no clear course trail.
But one thing is sure, each year many of the roughly 40 adventurers, chosen from more than 100 applicants around the world, will not finish the 8 day race.
Throughout the journey, the riders are only allowed to carry a sleeping bag (no tent) and bag with a maximum wait of 11 pounds.
Both Upstate women have spent the last year training.
“I don’t feel 59,” said Summers.
“I had just had a baby a year before and I had not lost all the baby weight yet,” said Land.
But the challenges of different stages of life did not hold these adventure seekers from applying.
“I just have to stay on while the wild dogs are chasing us and I’ll be fine,” said Summers.
” I only get one life I want to see this world,” said Land.
Win or lose, the journey is that much more sweet when you’re riding beside a champion, of not just life, but your life.
‘I thought I would be nervous and maybe I’m not because I have such an awesome partner,” said Summers.
“I’m going to enjoy this life with one of my best friends. It’s awesome,” said Land.
They depart Saturday July 29, and the race starts August 6th.
They have a lot of support from their families in Pickens and Anderson Counties, but they are still raising funds.