Sarah’s mount for the last leg of the race was Asad. Today of all days, he earned his nickname “Asshat”. Sarah was one of the leaders of the race, along with Sam and Monde. Unfortunately Sam and Monde each lost a front shoe off of their horses at one of the checks, leaving Sarah to continue out on her own. If she had been on any other horse, she could have very well gained a huge lead over them and had gone on to win the race. However, young Asad had a “baby brain” day. He had a tendency to be herd bound so was not too impressed when he had to go out by himself. Add in a ton of spooking and Sarah was having probably one of the worst rides of her life. If she could even get Asad to go forward, he did so with his head up in the air like a giraffe and moved at most 5 miles per hour. This continued for about 15km before Sam and Monde caught up.
Despite the trackers showing them quite far apart, the three rode together for most of the last day. Sarah said she didn’t know what she would have done if she had been out there all by herself. The team approach to the end of the race proved very helpful in getting all three across the finish line as each rider brought something to the table. Monde had a touch screen gps, which proved quite useless when wet, so Sarah was able to help them navigate. Sam provided the encouragement and motivation for them to pick up the pace and keep going. Asad quite liked Monde’s horse and was happy to keep up with the group. At times when the trail looked like it reached a dead end or it seemed like there was no way around, the three minds working together problem solved to get them through.
When they neared the end of the race, all three decided to have a gallop-off for the winner, partly for fun and partly to add a little excitement for the cameras all around. (*Side note* If you weren’t aware already, the organizers of this race were filming every aspect in order to create a documentary when all is said and done. There is going to be some amazing footage and we can’t wait for it to be completed!) Even though Asad was happy to go forward to follow his buddies, he wasn’t quite fast enough to win, coming in third only a few seconds behind Sam in second and Monde in first.
Sarah is feeling pretty good (now that she’s had a bath and is relaxing in a gorgeous guest house with a view of the beach!). We’ll have to wait for her to return to civilization to get her recollection of the events but one thing she mentioned is that for anyone thinking about trying this race next year, go in with no expectations. This is more a horse race than a rider race; your ride is completely dependent on the horses you are given. Part of the reason she was getting frustrated with Asad today was that she had ridden two superb endurance horses before him and had expected more out of Asad, forgetting he was the youngster of her bunch. Had she received three different horses, her ride would have been completely different.
Two of her memorable moments from the race are seeing dolphins playing in the water while she was riding down the beach and riding along the cliffs with Monde with very steep, long drop-offs and the helicopter right beside them filming. She was quite surprised at how close the helicopters got and how quickly the horses adapted to them.
She will be enjoying a party tomorrow, then relaxing on a day off and visiting old friends in South Africa from the last time she was there and then she’ll be on a plane back to Canada.