70-Year-Old Wins Grueling 'Death March'

Bob Long beats the odds by winning a long, Mongolian horse race
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 21, 2019 4:20 PM CDT

Bob Long is 70—and just won a punishing 10-day horse race across the Mongolian steppes. That makes him the oldest rider to even finish the race, the New York Times reports. "It's nothing," says the Idaho native. "You just ride 650 miles on a death march." That meant riding about 100 hours on 28 horses and outpacing 43 other competitors across rivers, dunes, wetland, valleys, and forested hills, often alone. It also meant training for months with previous race winners and preparing thoughtful touches, like taking blue ribbons to honor his horses, and baggies with two cigarettes and a pocketknife for herdsmen. "Preparation trumps youth," says Long.

But he was determined after seeing a documentary about the race, All the Wild Horses. "It took me about 15 minutes to decide that I could do that," he says. An accomplished amateur rider, he endured a scary horse fall into a muddy trench and stayed sane on long stretches partly by singing "There's a Coach Comin' In" from the movie Paint Your Wagon (1969), he tells Forbes. He also enjoyed staying with locals at night in their tent-like homes, called gers. While others endured injuries including a punctured lung and a broken collarbone, Long kept on riding. "This has been a spiritual thing for me," he says. "I have a strong belief in a higher power and I believe that my God was with me and helped me with a lot of things when I was really, really hurting or needed direction." (More uplifting news stories.)

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