Cape Town - From October 13-21, 2018, Race the Wild Coast, a new breed of long distance horse racing, will return for a second edition amid the breathtaking scenery of the South African east coast.
Over the course of five days a host of experienced international riders, each with a team of three horses, will compete for victory over 350km of rugged paradise from Port Edward to Kei Mouth.
This complex multi-stage race, in which riders must brave this untamed wilderness and swim rivers while keeping horses fit for vet checks, will challenge the endurance of any rider. Adventure sports enthusiasts will be able to keep close tabs on the race by checking each stage of the competition via live tracking and social media updates.
Race the Wild Coast blends the spirit of the frontiersman and the modern horseback adventurer - a test of endurance, horsemanship, survival and navigational skills across an iconic wilderness that is set to become a South African, if not a global, sporting classic. Due to the terrain - it is not known as the “wild coast" for nothing - Race the Wild Coast is currently the toughest horse race in the world.
This locally conceptualised event is sponsored by international sports apparel manufacturer KTC and has caught the attention of competitors from the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Canada, Mexico and Australia, all of whom will compete for line honours while experiencing the East Coast from a unique vantage point.
According to Race the Wild Coast Co-founder Barry Armitage of Rockethorse Racing, the challenge should not be undertaken lightly.
“Being physically fit is essential. There are some brutal hills on this ride and some of the river crossings are daunting, so being confident in water is a must,” says Armitage.
With around six major rivers that require deep-water swims, and the expectation of rain, conditions will test the riders’ skills each step of the way.
The terrain of the race varies, spanning hard sand on beaches with an outgoing tide, coastal hills cut by ravines that often require leading the horses, tight forested tracks and soft sand, where haste could result in tendon injuries. While thrilling, this arduous enterprise will force riders to keep a steady pace while reading the immediate landscape for the fastest or most efficient route - never knowing what might come next.
Race the Wild Coast 2018 will take place in 12 stages with riders covering over 80km per day. Pacing the horses is essential for their wellbeing and to keep them competitive. Horses are checked by a veterinarian after each stage, and penalties for overworking horses can seriously impact the leaderboard.
Competing horses are required to be brave and independent, with a strong work ethic and good temperament. Sourced from local endurance stud Moolmanshoek, horses include pure bred Arabs, Arabs crossbred with local Boerperde for their hardiness and temperament and pure Boerperde suited to tough conditions of the Wild Coast. Wiesman Nel and his team from Moolmanshoek who have been preparing the horses for months, along with a team of six veterinarians will ensure the well being of the horses.
Endurance horse racing is a growing genre of adventure racing internationally, and South Africans are no strangers to the sport. Armitage himself won the 1000km Mongol Derby in 2017. The first edition of Race the Wild Coast was held in 2016 and was won by South African Monde Kanyana, who beat an international field that comprised mainly Mongol Derby veterans, including the 2014 winner, Australian Sam Jones, who came second in the South African race. Kanyana is also a Mongol Derby 2013 veteran, and finished in sixth place, winning the award for best horsemanship.
“Winning Race the Wild Coast 2018 will require a very balanced strategy to get the most out of the horses and stay in the race. Good navigation skills, bravery when needed, canny pacing of your horses and, of course, a large dose of luck, will all help!” says Armitage.
To participate in the build-up to the race, find out more about this year’s riders and for daily updates during the race days, follow Rockethorse Racing via Facebook (@rockethorseracing), Twitter (@rockethorseZA) or Instagram (@rockethorseracing).