Cape Town - From October 13-21, 2018,
Race the Wild Coast, a new breed of long distance horse racing, will return for
a second edition amid the breathtaking scenery of the South African east coast.
Over the course of five days a host of experienced international riders, each
with a team of three horses, will compete for victory over 350km of rugged
paradise from Port Edward to Kei Mouth.
This complex multi-stage
race, in which riders must brave this untamed wilderness and swim rivers while
keeping horses fit for vet checks, will challenge the endurance of any rider.
Adventure sports enthusiasts will be able to keep close tabs on the race by
checking each stage of the competition via live tracking and social media
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 that
is set to become a South African, if not a global, sporting classic. Due to the
terrain - it is not known as the “wild coast" for nothing - Race the Wild Coast
is currently the toughest horse race in the world.
This locally conceptualised event is sponsored
by international sports apparel manufacturer KTC and has caught the attention
of competitors from the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the United
States, Canada, Mexico and Australia, all of whom will compete for line honours
while experiencing the East Coast from a unique vantage point.
According to Race the Wild Coast Co-founder
Barry Armitage of Rockethorse Racing, the challenge should not be undertaken
“Being physically fit is essential. There are some brutal hills on
this ride and some of the river crossings are daunting, so being confident in
water is a must,” says Armitage.
With around six major rivers that require
deep-water swims, and the expectation of rain, conditions will test the riders’
skills each step of the way.
The terrain of the race varies, spanning hard
sand on beaches with an outgoing tide, coastal hills cut by ravines that often
require leading the horses, tight forested tracks and soft sand, where haste could
result in tendon injuries. While thrilling, this arduous enterprise will force
riders to keep a steady pace while reading the immediate landscape for the
fastest or most efficient route - never knowing what might come next.
Race the Wild Coast 2018 will take place in 12 stages with riders covering over 80km per day. Pacing the horses is
essential for their wellbeing and to keep them competitive. Horses are checked
by a veterinarian after each stage, and penalties for overworking horses can
seriously impact the leaderboard.
Competing horses are required to be brave and
independent, with a strong work ethic and good temperament. Sourced from local
endurance stud Moolmanshoek, horses include pure bred Arabs, Arabs crossbred
with local Boerperde for their hardiness and temperament and pure Boerperde suited
to tough conditions of the Wild Coast. Wiesman Nel and his team from
Moolmanshoek who have been preparing the horses for months, along with a team
of six veterinarians will ensure the well being of the horses.
Endurance horse racing is a growing genre of
adventure racing internationally, and South Africans are no strangers to the
sport. Armitage himself won the 1000km Mongol Derby in 2017. The first edition
of Race the Wild Coast was held in 2016 and was won by South African Monde
Kanyana, who beat an international field that comprised mainly Mongol Derby
veterans, including the 2014 winner, Australian Sam Jones, who came second in
the South African race. Kanyana is also a Mongol Derby 2013 veteran, and
finished in sixth place, winning the award for best horsemanship.
“Winning Race the Wild Coast 2018 will require a very balanced
strategy to get the most out of the horses and stay in the race. Good
navigation skills, bravery when needed, canny pacing of your horses and, of
course, a large dose of luck, will all help!” says Armitage.
To participate in the
build-up to the race, find out more about this year’s riders and for daily
updates during the race days, follow Rockethorse Racing via Facebook (@rockethorseracing), Twitter (@rockethorseZA) or