A 70-year-old cowboy described as “tougher than a box of concrete” has become the oldest winner of the world’s “longest horse race”.
American cowboy Bob Long, from Idaho, was the winner of the 2019 Mongol Derby, in which riders navigate across 1,000km of the Mongolian steppe.
Bob crossed the line at 11.03am Mongolian time on Wednesday 14 August following his seven-day “demonstration of horsemanship, fortitude and navigational skill”.
A spokesman for the race said Bob changed horses 28 times throughout the race. At each vet check Bob’s horses “vetted cleanly”, meaning he received no veterinary time-penalties.
“Plenty of the 2019 riders received medical treatment for ‘minor’ injuries, such as a broken nose, concussion and dehydration – but not Bob, whose solo adventure across the steppe has been one of the most impressive performances seen in the history of the Derby,” said the spokesman.
“Bob’s life has been built around horses. He trained and sold broncs to fund his university education, rode and trained mules for packing and hunting, and worked with young appaloosas and quarter horses. He is a master at the competitive sport of extreme mountain trail riding, and has many awards in that discipline, the ideal preparation for the most extreme race of them all, the Mongol Derby.”
Bob, who retired from a career in public health and holds a PhD, joked that there was “nothing to the race” and said “age is just a number”.
“I am riding to accept the challenge of selecting and managing a good horse across a historical, storied and difficult landscape. To interact with the legendary and best horsemen of all time. To test my skill, my nerve and my mental fortitude,” said Bob, on the final day of the race.”
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The best pictures from this year's Mongol Derby, regarded as the longest, toughest horse race in the world
The pair crossed 1,000km of Mongolian steppe in just over six days, facing monsoon rain, fog, heat and floods along
Tom Morgan, of race organisers The Adventurists, said: “Bob isn’t just the oldest, he has ridden better and stronger, camping out more, than anyone else.
“We opened up the course this year to make navigation a key skill again, and Bob absolutely nailed it. The man is tougher than a box of concrete.”
Wiseman Nel of South Africa finished second, and a group consisting of Dutch rider Margreet Voermans, and Australians Jesse Byrne, Justine Hales and Sarah Brown took joint-third.
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