PERFEKT EARTH® SPONSORS HORSE RIDER HEATHER RUSSELL IN WORLD’S TOUGHEST CROSS COUNTRY HORSE RACE.
Every year Riders from all over the globe gather in Mongolia to compete in the World’s Toughest Cross Country Horse race. The athlete’s use skill, experience, and horse savvy to stay atop of half-wild Mongol horses for over 600 miles (1,000 kilometers). The 2014 race began in the wee hours of the morning on August 6. 47 riders from around the globe had saddled the half-wild horses and set out on what the “Guinness Book of World Records” has called the longest equestrian race on Earth.
The goal, to ride a 621 mile circuit of Mongolian country side in less than ten days, without injury or incident to the horse or rider. Fewer than half the riders ever make it to the finish line, and fewer yet place in the top 10. The rest will have to leave the race due to severe injury or will simply quit and every rider can count on being thrown from their horse multiple times, says Katy Willings, the race chief and former Mongol Derby competitor.
The race route is modeled on the horse relay postal system created under Genghis Khan in 1224, which was instrumental in the expansion of the Mongolian Empire. The competitors are completely exposed to the elements for the duration of the Derby, and during the 10 day race will likely face extremes in temperatures, storms, high winds, and blistering sun. The Mongol herders have introduced each horse to the feel of a bridle and saddle prior to the race, but the animals are far from broken and are quick to buck and bolt. When not racing, the horses are cared for by local herding families. This year more than 1000 horses were needed for the 47 participants who competed. Riders are required to stop at each check point station and switch horses to prevent injury or exhaustion of their mounts. Since the rider is never on any horse long enough to gain familiarity with it, the race proves to be a mental challenge as much as a physical one. To add to the challenge, the Mongolian landscape is difficult to prepare for and anticipate due to the high passes, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands and flood plains, sandy semiarid dunes, rolling hills, dry riverbeds, and their famously wide open grasslands. And keep in mind, all of this terrain is navigated while adjusting to the erratic temperaments of a new semi-wild horse every 25 miles.
This year would prove to be a little different than in years past, this year the Mongol Derby would be introduced to a peppy, bright, high spirited athlete and horse rider, Heather Russell of Alwin Texas. Heather contacted Andy Johnson, CEO of Perfekt Earth L.L.C. and asked for their sponsorship. She shared that each rider was asked to raise a minimum of £1000 for charity, of which at least £500 is officially given to an organization called “Cool Earth”. Andy was impressed with Heather’s passion and pleased to hear that among the charity’s many priorities, Cool Earth is an active advocate for the protection of our world’s diminishing rain forests. “Since Perfekt Earth L.L.C. also believes in the protecting of our natural resources and the healthy remedies we can find in nature, it made perfekt™ since to help Heather with her goal,” says Andy.
Perfekt Earth was excited to hear that Heather wowed the folks of Mongolia as much as she impressed the leadership of Perfekt Earth L.L.C. Heather not only was among those who finished the race, but she placed in the top 10. It is traditional that the first place winner receive Mongo Derby’s honorable “Blue Robe” award, however; this year this prestigious award was also given to Heather Russell for her esteemed athletic ability, her overall team player spirit, her witnessed excellence with horses, and her kind and considerate respect for the native people as a whole. “I was so shocked to get presented with the Honorable Blue Robe award” said Heather, “I instantly burst into tears.” Later Heather was awarded a special gift (a hand carved Mongolian Horse) presented from the Head Herdsman. Attached to it was a note that translated simply, “Fearless Horsewoman, your spirit will reside with us always.” She was noted to have cried again upon hearing the English translation. She later noted that the horse she actually ran over the finish line with had only been ridden 3 times before. Heather’s experience is one she will take with her for a lifetime, and her impact will hopefully reach our world’s rain forests as well. Well done Heather, we at Perfekt Earth L.L.C. are so very proud to have sponsored your adventure.