Kiwi Will Risk Life in World’s Toughest Horse Race for Mongolian Kids
Written by Kip Brook
Friday, June 19, 2009.
A New Zealander, living in Perth for the last six years says, who claims he is not a good rider, will race 25 different semi wild horses to compete in the world’s longest and toughest horse race, over 1,000km across Mongolia, later this year in the inaugural Mongol Derby.
Dave Murray, formerly of New Zealand, will be one of 25 riders from nine countries to race across the Mongolian plains from August 22 with every rider changing horses every 40km. Murray will be representing Western Australia.
Murray, 29, is hoping to raise AU$100,000 to give to Christina Nobles Children’s Foundation.
“I want to do this because I found out a number of children in Mongolia have to live under ground to survive the desperately cold winter months so the money will be going towards Cristina Nobles Children’s Foundation who do some remarkable work. They have an emergency fund established to provide homes to families who have become homeless. Many children live in underground sewers and huddle beside hot water pipes to stay warm in the bitter winter months, where the temperature plummets.’’
“I have a real dream to help the homeless children of Mongolia. To be without a home in the -30C degrees winter temperatures is unimaginable. I am not a good rider so it’s a mammoth challenge. I have been lucky enough to explore and experience a number of different countries and cultures in my life; August 2009 is going to be the biggest adventure yet - riding 25 horses across the wilderness of Mongolia. I have to lose 12kg to meet the 85kg riding weight.”
“I work in Perth for a leading independent energy company Apache Energy that explores and produces natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids. Murray is a recreational pilot deep sea diver, passionate windsurfer and mountain climber.”
“The Perth polo club in Western Australia and some local farmers are helping me improve my riding skills. But it’s literally a crash course on improving limited cross-country skills. Having my first fall a few weeks
ago made me realize this is a how serious and dangerous challenge. I am in no way an expert horseman and this task I have set myself is an absolute challenge from day one.’’
Murray plans to stay for few weeks after the race to help erect some homes that he will be able to purchase through the charity. The race has been framed around the communications system used by Chinggis Khaan, a kind of pony express using a relay system which was able to get a message from Mongolia to Eastern Europe in just 14 days. The modern-day riders will use 800 horses, each of them finding their own route across Mongolia.
“I try and do something different every year. I knew the chances of getting in with my limited horse experience would be tough so approached one of my best mates Zara Phillips (Princess Anne’s daughter) for her support and help for an important charity cause.
“At the age of 15 organized myself to go to school in Scotland Gordonstoun – having Scottish blood in my veins I felt a strong connection with the country. That’s where I met Zara and we helped build a school in the Indonesian jungle during that time.’’
“Last year I rode a motorbike 5000km around five South American countries. With four friends, we hired bikes in Buenos Aries, drew a rough red line across a number of maps and set off across Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina camping and staying with complete strangers the whole way around. We climbed across the Andes Mountains, where our motorbikes ran out of oxygen and the temperature dropped to -22 degrees. We drove across deserts, through jungles, down mud roads, through rivers, ice and snow and featured on television shows and tasted South America as it should be seen, every element of the journey first hand. I guess the trip opened my eyes and I felt I had to start giving something back. ‘’
Two other New Zealanders, Charlotte Davison and Hannah Ritchie, will also take part in the race with 800 horses, with each rider finding their own route across Mongolia.
International Business Times