Monday 13th August – Day 5
As we woke to pack our sleeping gear and saddle our horses, we looked out to the pony lines to see that there is not a single horse. We had chosen our horses the evening before, and were assured the horses would be there in the morning after being watered, fed and tied up.
we had offered as the herders lived some distance from where we were, but they insisted.
Concerned, we loaded our gear into cars and set out across the plains to try and find the herders that were looking after our horses, hopeful we were heading in the right direction.
3km from the camp we met the herders who were bring them towards us. By now it was already 6.25am so we quickly saddled them in the middle of the steppe, got on our horses and took off for the day. No time lost in the end so all very relieved.
We flew to the first station, and after Christopher Columbus resurfacing again briefly, we arrived at station 16 to find no vet at the station to check us in or out.
After waiting 45 minutes for the vet, 43 of which were spent arguing amongst the 6 of us, deciding if we should continue or stay and wait for the vet to arrive. With no communication, we had no idea how long this wait could be.
As we were neared a decision, Bruce, our last vet, drove over the hill on his way to another station and did the vet check for us on his way.
We found out down the line that the sheer spread of the race by this point had caused a scarcity of resources, and a simple miscommunication had resulted in no vet being stationed at 16.
Ed had started to feel unwell, and the group took great amusement in the continual bathroom stops along the way, Henry and Rob noticeably happy that it wasn’t them.
We moved along towards station 17 before Bots had a buster and broke his girth after the horse fell down a Marmot hole. A local Mongolian man drove past, stopped, and had a cigarette while watching us try and repair the girth. Unimpressed, the local man interjected and completely took over and with zip ties got the girth back on and us back on the road.
We moved through stations 17 and 18, past some salt lake obviously not suitable to water the horses, over relatively flat country. As we made our way to 19, we came across some high flowing and deep water which the day before the competitors had to swim their horses across.
Luckily the water had subsided a little, so the horses could walk but the river crossing still made us all very wet with the water up to knee deep.
It was another hot day, and by the time we had cleared vet at station 19 we had only 15 minutes to ride so it was decided that we would stay for the evening. The 6 of us had now been together for a few days, so we took advantage of the early finish, enjoyed the sunset, convinced ourselves that with a bit of luck we would be winning, and for the first time in the race felt like we had 5 minutes to sit still. The herders looked after our horses and we enjoyed some snacks and a meal with some of the Adventurist staff that were also stationed at checkpoint 19.
Day 5 Stations Travelled: 4
Day 5 Km travelled: 139