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Cape Town – Young UK-based rider Rosie Riall triumphed in the second-ever Race
the Wild Coast endurance horse race, crossing the finish line at the Kei Mouth ahead
of 13 other international competitors.

RESULTS: 2018 Race the Wild Coast

Race the Wild Coast, which
is sponsored by international apparel brand KTC and supported by Striped Horse
craft beer, is a new breed of long-distance horse racing set along the aptly
named Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The race was organised by
South African company Rockethorse Racing, which launched its first event in
2016. This complex, multi-stage race covers 350km of untamed wilderness and
includes river and estuary crossings, narrow cliff-top tracks, rocky paths,
beach runs, and often adverse weather conditions – earning it the moniker of
“the wildest horse race in the world”. From a technical perspective, it is
certainly one of the most challenging endurance races in existence.

Says race organiser and
co-founder Barry Armitage of Rockethorse Racing: “This year’s race was
certainly tough and it’s an achievement just to finish. We congratulate all our
riders who traversed the rugged paradise that is South Africa’s Wild Coast. And
we take our racing cap off to the winner. It was a tight finish, but Rosie
pipped her mate Anna Boden to the line due to strategy, determination, sheer
grit and excellent horsemanship!”

For the first time in the
race’s history, other intrepid adventure sports enthusiasts from different
disciplines were welcomed onto the field. Legendary endurance trail runner
Steve Black and adventure canoeist Clyde Barendse pitted their skills against
those of the riders and raced the horses to the finish line, with Black running
the trail and Barendse paddling across rivers and breakers. Future editions of
the event will see other forms of endurance sport such as Mountain Biking also
included in Race the Wild Coast.

Taking part in the 2018
edition were 14 riders in total: Anna
Boden (UK), Daisy Soames (UK), Jamey Altman (USA), Katy Willings (UK), Iain
Paterson (UK), Francisco Schnaas (MX), Courtney Kizer (USA), Catriona Paterson
(CAN), Melissa Montgomery (USA), Chetta Crowley (AUS), Rosie Riall (UK), Hanna
Bartnick (USA), Julie Eldridge (USA), and Mohammed Nasser (UAE).

No South Africans took
part in this edition, but the 2016 race was won by South Africa’s own Monde Khanyana
who beat an international field that comprised a high number of Mongol Derby
veterans, including the 2014 Mongol Derby winner, Australian Sam Jones, who
came second in the 2016 South African race.

During Race the Wild Coast
2018, the constantly changing conditions due to rain and wind on the first two
days resulted in frequent alterations to the leader positions. Horse and rider had
to work together to overcome obstacles.

At times riders grouped
together as teams, with the trailing pack working together to catch up to the leaders.
Melissa Montgomery (USA) impressed fans on Day 2 by catching up with the
leading pack after a tough river crossing despite a fractured left wrist. Other
riders were not so fortunate, with Hanna Bartnick withdrawing on Day 3 after an
injured ankle affected her ability to ride. Mohammed Nasser withdrew on Day 4
due to an injured knee. Julie Eldridge was unfortunate to have her third horse
(the riders change mounts at various stages) vetted out at the Bulungula vet
check but continued the race as a non-competitor after mounting a spare horse.

Covering 80km per day, the
race took place over 12 stages. At the end of each stage, horses were thoroughly
checked by Rockethorse Racing’s own head vet as well as SPCA vets to ensure
that the animals remained in top condition. The horses’s health is paramount
and time penalties are incurred for overworking the horses, which can seriously
impact the leaderboard.

The horses were sourced
from local endurance stud Moolmanshoek run by Wiesman Nel. The mounts included three
types: pure bred Arabian horses for speed, Arabians crossbred with local
Boerperde for their hardiness and temperament, and pure Boerperde suited to the
tough conditions of the Wild Coast.

The terrain of the race
varies. It spans hard sand on beaches with outgoing tides; coastal hills cut by
ravines that often require leading the horses; tight forested tracks; and soft
sand where haste could result in tendon injuries. Not to mention several river
swims…

While thrilling, this
arduous enterprise forces riders to keep a steady pace while reading the
immediate landscape for the fastest or most efficient route – never knowing
what might come next. It is not known as the “wild” coast for nothing…

Endurance horse racing is
a growing genre of adventure racing internationally, and South Africans are no
strangers to the sport. Armitage himself won the Mongol Derby in 2017. Race the
Wild Coast blends the spirit of the frontiersman and the modern horseback
adventurer – a test of endurance, horsemanship, survival and navigational
skills across an iconic wilderness – and is making its mark as a global
sporting classic.

To find out more or enter the
next race, visit http://rockethorseracing.co.za/

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