Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Swag of memories from Mongolia ride

Farrier James Mitchell returned from a once-in-a-lifetime ride across Mongolia in the Mongol Derby, a 48-man race on untamed Mongolian horses.

Raising money for the Stroke Foundation, James set out to take on untouched terrain in rural Mongolia with the likes of Swiss lingerie designers and English lawyers. "It was a mixed bag of (participants)," he said.

"But they all had one thing in common - they were all mad and I suppose you had to be to take part in something like that."

Calling it the best experience of his life, James said he took a swag of memories home with him, and made strong friendships.

He finished 18th in the race and said he was lucky to have got to the end. "I galloped across the line in 42 degree heat with a lawyer from London who I met while we were lost during the race," he said

"Only 36 people go across the finish line … some people were badly injured so I think luck played a part in finishing."

James said most of his memories came from situations where he or his horse were lost but said the Mongolians' hospitality helped see him through the race to the end.

James rode to reach a target of $20,000 for stroke research, a cause close to his heart - his mother is a stroke survivor.

"I'm not at my target yet, but I'll keep fundraising," he said.

National Stroke Week runs from September 8 to 14, and aims to raise awareness and encourage Australians to take preventative action.

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