Known as the longest and toughest horse race in the world, the 1000km Mongol derby recreates Genghis Khan’s legendary empire-busting postal system, with riders changing horse every 40km, and living with herders or camping under the stars.
Sam, who works as a process operator for local mining company Tronox, was well ahead of the pack for most of the race, and rode mostly alone, even camping out in the wild one night to secure her position. When she crossed the finish line on the eighth day she became the first Australian, and the
second woman to win this amazing physical challenge in it’s six year history.
When interviewed after the race by past competitor, Kirstin Melis, who inspired the Aussie riders to compete, she said, “ I loved every minute of
it. If it was easy it wouldn’t have been as good. There were definitely some tough times but I found it… invigorating is probably the word.”
She summed up the race by saying, “I compare it to the equine equivalent of climbing Everest. It’s a challenge, it’s an adventure, it’s an international
race and it’s all based around horses and I live horses. I intend to come back and run the derby every 10 years until I can’t any longer.”
Also finishing on the eighth day was Brent Albuino – a race-horse trainer and ex-jockey from Gingin. Brent, the second of only 3 Australians in the Derby, finished with 6 other competitors who crossed the line as a group hours after Sam. Brent commented that he “had a hard time chasing Sam” but was
thrilled to finish the race so well. Only 37 competitors of the original 48 completed the race in the 10 day maximum, with many forced to retire due to injure and fatigue.
Brent has no plans attempt the Mongol Derby again, but cited Mongolia as “a pretty amazing place”. “Just being there and meeting people from all over the world was a life changing experience” he said. Brent raised nearly $4000 for his chosen charity Animal Aid Abroad which works to improve conditions for
animals working around the world.