Sunday, September 1, 2013

The World's largest horse race in history- and that's a fact.

If anyone is going to win the Guinness World Record for the most horses to run a race- it's going to be the Mongolians.  And that's exactly what they did on August 10th, 2013 at Khui Doloon Khudag - about a half-hour outside of the capital, Ulaanbaatar.  The race needed to have at least 3,000 racers compete (at once!).  Mongolian families and their horses arrived from all over Mongolia to participate- registering 4,279 racers, far more contestants than the needed to win.  The race was 18 km (11 miles) with many jockeys riding bare-back!

We were very fortunate to learn of the event.  Angelika, also staying at the Golden Gobi hostel knew of the race only because she passed by the parade the day before (also now a Guinness World Record having had 11,125 riders from the ages of 4 to 80).

It was an incredible introduction to Mongolia- especially on our second day after arriving!  Pictures below:

Camel rides for the kids! 

I loved watching the crowds, from all over Mongolia in their traditional clothing.

Even the horses were in their finest. 

I lost Nate for a bit- but found him drinking airag (fermented mare's milk) with a new friend.

And then the race was getting close to starting...

Crowds gathered...

And I got pinched in- but right in front.  Here's a picture that I took of the growing crowd behind me.

Here's the winner- riding bareback!  He's probably not older than 6... I learned that most of the jockeys are between 6 and 8.

There were many horses that came in without a jockey (26 according to the paper).  It was reported that there were no deaths of jockeys but we certainly saw many injuries to jockeys and a horse that died within eyesight of the finish line.

Showing off in front of his friends after the race...

I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  These guys asked me to be their photographer after they saw me taking photos- which allowed the guy with the camera to jump on his horse and join the group.  So far, this is my favorite photo of my Mongolian pictures.

This is Froit van der Harst, owner of Euro Yurts ( who was selling coffee at the event in one of his yurts.  

Again- right place at the right time.  Awesome advertisement for coffee though, right???

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