Endurance Rider & Former Airline Pilot
Sally is not your typical endurance athlete. As one of Britain's best known endurance riders Sally competes in long distance equestrian events during which she might ride over 100 miles in a day. Cycling and running form part of Sally's training regime between events.
This year Sally is riding in the worlds toughest equestrian endurance race, the Mongol Derby. The race extends 1,000 km through the Mongolian Steppe and recreates the horse messenger system developed by Ghengis Khan in 1224. In the 2017 race, there will be 12 men and 24 women playing the role of the messengers, and representing 9 countries.
The terrain will invariably include mountain passes, green open valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetland and floodplains, sandy semi-arid dunes, rolling hills, dry riverbeds and of course open steppe. Each rider has access to 25 semi feral horses for 40 km each. The ride starts at 7.00 am each day with a curfew after 8:30 pm. There are penalties if your tracker moves too far at night!!
The horses themselves are semi-wild, and may not cooperate with the rider, adding one more level of difficulty to the race. Riders will spend thirteen to fourteen hours a day in the saddle, with the leaders coming home in 7 days and the rest up to 10 days.
"For me this is a huge unknown and I have no idea whatever where I will be in the field! There are a lot of curved balls in 1.000km. I think that is the mystery and fascination!!"
To complete the race is an accomplishment in and of itself, as only half the racers usually finish the race in any given year. Come the 19th of August Sally intends to be one of them!
Elivar fuels the journey.
Occupation: Retired Airline Pilot.
Sport: Equestrian Endurance Events, cycling and running.
Pre-race Ritual: Normally a banana and check I have all I need on me before I get on an excited horse as I will need to initially concentrate on them to settle them... also to thank the starters and organisers.
Favourite Cheat Food: Hula hoops. Big packs, little packs, any flavour... hula hoops, yum!
Favourite Form of Cross Training: Step machine at the gym as this does simulate trotting quite well!! My other is yoga which is great for my head and I can kid myself I have done some stretching!!
It's difficult to pick a particular "highlight" as I love my sport, be it shorter or longer rides. There is always something to learn and something to walk away with even if it is pouring with rain! If I had to pick...
- Starting nine 100 mile Tevis Cup rides in California and finishing five of them
- English Home International Team 6 times and have just been short listed again for our 3rd go at the 100 mile race!
- My current top endurance horse has started six 100 mile rides and finished five of them which is pretty cool...