Race The Wild Coast officially kicks off tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9am South Africa time or 3am EST. We get that you’re probably not that hard-core about getting up at 3am to watch Sarah’s tracker on the live stream (http://rockethorse.sportraxs.com/) but keep an eye on our website and our Facebook page for updates at the end of each day as Sarah will be calling/texting me to regale the day’s adventures.
The two days prior to the start of the race is race training. Here, competitors will get to meet their randomly selected teams of horses, go over the rules of the race, attend a detailed course briefing, test out their kit and tack, and get a chance to test out their horses and practice their swimming skills.
Horses are randomly assigned in groups of three. Each team is pretty evenly matched with each horse having its own strengths and weaknesses. Sarah’s team consists of Gerber (far left), a strong, steady-eddy, who may not be the fastest, but he’ll get you there safely; Ramkat (middle), Sarah’s favourite, who is fast, agile, and will just keep going; and lastly, Asad (far right), the stereotypical young Arab, who can be quite spooky, but is on his game when he’s having a good day.
Kit and Tack
Sarah found out that the accommodations at each check point were going to be more substantial than previously thought so she was able to lighten the load of the maximum 5kg she was allowed to carry with her. She didn’t mention having any issues with tack, however, those participants with a touchscreen gps were finding it very difficult as the water was wreaking havoc with the functionality of the machines (luckily, Sarah’s is not touchscreen!)
At the Mongol Derby, the satellite trackers they were given worked on a point to point basis. She was able to set it and go, free to choose her own path to get to the points. This time around, the trackers are continual and she will have to stay on a fairly set path. This means not only will she have to pack extra batteries since having the tracker on all the time will drain it faster, she will also have to ride with it in her hand more often rather than putting it in her pack until she gets to the points. Couple that with some hot horses and tough terrain, it looks like Sarah will have to get used to riding one handed pretty quickly. The riders each have a satellite tracker, as well as each of the horses. If we see Sarah’s tracker separate from her horse’s tracker, I’ll most likely be getting a phone call from her asking where on the map her horse is headed!
Over the two days, participants will have the opportunity to give their team a test ride. Not far from base camp was a spot to practice wading into the water. At these spots, the horses aren’t fully swimming but the water was up to rider knees. Then riders rode through some fields, up and down hills, and through a bit of forest to get to a lagoon where they could practice their swimming (out to the sand bar and back).
Sarah didn’t mention having much difficulty with Gerber, which makes sense by the way she described him. Asad gave her a bit of trouble when it came to the swimming part. Long story short: he’s a bad swimmer. He kept launching himself while trying to swim instead of gracefully paddling along. The tricky part here is going to be staying on as riders were told they needed to drop their stirrups for the swimming portions. He seemed to get the hint (sort of) with a few more attempts, so here’s hoping he has a good day when it’s Sarah’s turn to ride him.
On day one of training, Sarah was already trying to figure out if/how she could get Ramkat back to Canada. “This is a Tevis horse”, she kept saying to me, while telling me how brilliant of a swimmer he was and how he scaled a rock face straight up with no hesitation. After Day 2’s ride, she might have changed her mind. They are filming this race for a documentary so there are cameras and drones all over. With a chopper flying overhead, Ramkat did a nasty spook, buck and spin and unseated Sarah. She landed in some soft sand and the only thing hurt was her pride. Ramkat took off back to ride camp (not far away), leaving Sarah to do the walk of shame back to camp (with footage of this being caught by a drone flying above).
She isn’t connected to wifi and won’t be until the end of the race but expect some amazing helmet cam footage as I’m told the views are just incredible. A storm rolled in Thursday night (with some of the loudest thunder Sarah’s ever heard) but prior to it hitting, Sarah captured a moment of swimming with one of her horses and the lightning striking over in the distance.
Best of luck Sarah! We’re rooting for you!!