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The Mongol Derby 2018

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Deal Core Property Group’s Samantha Anderson in Training for World’s Longest and Toughest Horse Race – The Mongol Derby 2018

Samantha Anderson (“Sam”), specialises in Port related warehousing and works with multi nationals all over Southern Africa. When she is not putting together complex deals to suit her client’s logistics needs, she’s training for an adventure of a life time.

Sam has swopped her 1909 Humber pedal cycle for ponies. The reason? “Motorbikes can’t love you back” jokes Sam. She has competed five times on the Durban to Johannesburg Run (“DJ”) which is 650kms over two days on the Humber that has no clutch or gears and finished three times out of five attempts.

In 2016 the bike caught fire whilst she was riding and burned out just outside of Newcastle on the second day. After a year’s worth of meticulous restoration by her late father, Stuart Anderson, she attempted the DJ again in 2017 and the magneto packed up in Heidelberg. “I didn’t compete this year as my father was tragically killed on his DJ bike, a 1918 Harley Davidson, a week before the start”.

Sam decided to try and enter the 2018 Mongol Derby in October last year and low and behold was accepted. It was a wake up call as she has never ridden endurance on a horse and “I was faced with the exciting and stupidly daunting challenge of riding 1000kms in 10 days on semi wild Mongolian ponies with no comforts or support” she says with a smile. So what to do when you have to go from zero to hero? Enlist some help from as many family members and friends as you can find.

Firstly, Kevin Tebbutt, is Sam’s partner and is three times South African off road champion. He has 15 Roof of Africa’s under his belt not to mention every other off road and endurance race during his 15 year career. Who better to have on your team? “He has been extremely supportive and wakes up at 4am to make me a cup of tea before I head off to ride horses, when it was still light, and now go running” says Sam.

“I owe a life time debt of gratitude to a number of people who have been amazingly generous to me” says Sam. Dube Pricemoor, Craig Gillespie, Craig Egbrink, Pete Dommit, Mark and Elsa Fraser and Wiesman Nel have all helped. But special thanks to three people who have really shaped Sam’s abilities.

“The first is Glynn Redgrave, an extremely talented horse whisperer who had the terrible job of trying to teach me to ride unbacked race horses at Summerveld in the hopes that I would learn to handle semi wild Mongolian ponies”. After breaking three ribs in her first couple of weeks of training with Glynn on a colt called Nomu, Sam was undeterred and still trains with Glynn every Friday. Shame you have to feel so sorry for him.

The second person is Megan Frost. “This amazing woman who I had never met, agreed to loan me two unbacked ponies, Skyla and Gabriel to train on”. Sam initially had some training and invaluable advice from a professional endurance rider and horse dentist, Karel Vosloo. He suggested replicating the size and temperament of the ponies Sam would be riding day after day across the Mongolian Steppe.

“I found Megan through a friend and went to her farm to meet her and began riding Skyla and Gabriel. Gabriel bolted properly the second time I rode her and I fell off on my butt and she has got the nick name Faulty Bolty ever since” says Sam. She rides both ponies after work and on weekends for as much time as work responsibilities, family commitments and day light hour’s permit.

When it got too dark to ride horses at 4.30am, Sam began running with 19 times Comrades finisher Dave Findlay. “Dave had to put up with me swearing my way to the top of all the 1000 hills in Drummond at 5am because I couldn’t run to save my life” laughs Sam.  Things have improved over the last 3 months and “Dave is ever hopeful that I will run his 20th Comrades with him next year…. yeah right!”

Sam will be heading to Beijing on the 24th of July to apply for a visa for Mongolia as there is no Mongolian Consulate in South Africa. This is a risky way to start her journey. She intends to rest and take in the sites of the Chinese capital before, hopefully, landing in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital 3 days before the pre-race training begins. Ulaanbaatar is affectionately known as the “World’s Coldest Capital” and temperatures can go as low as -50° Celsius in winter.

Sam will face conditions from extreme heat during the day and cold temperatures at night. August sees the most rainfall in Mongolia and the odd hail storm is not uncommon. Sam cannot carry more than 5kgs of “luggage” for 10 days on the ponies which she will change every 40kms over the 1000km race. Riders self-navigate the course with GPS’s and sleep at night with local nomadic Mongolians. They must eat what is on the table if they want a warm meal and can enjoy fermented mares milk which is a local favourite drink.

“If I get all the way to Mongolia and get on my first pony and hit the deck, I will have had the most fun in my life getting there. I would love to finish, but if I don’t, the journey will have changed my life for ever.”

When asked what you will carry in your 5kgs, Sam replied “pain killers, anti inflammatories, a space blanket, rehydrate, duct tape, zip ties, baby bum cream and a zip lock bag to keep my sense of humour dry when the pooh hits”.

I would just like to say “Thank you to everyone who has supported and helped me. Thank you Deal Core Property Group for giving me a month off to ride the Mongol Derby!”

Author: Samantha Anderson

Submitted 27 Jun 18 / Views 389