CASPER, Wyo. — A 70 year old man who is known by the nickname “Cowboy Bob” has become the oldest winner in the history of the world’s longest horse race, the 1,000 kilometer 2019 “Mongol Derby.”
Robert Long is from Cheyenne but now resides in Boise, Idaho.
He traveled to Mongolia for the 11th Mongol Derby, coming to a location renowned for horsemanship. The derby lasted seven days, with Long demonstrating considerable skill and fortitude.
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“In doing so he battled the weather gods, who threw everything they had at our brave crazy riders, from torrential rain to burning sun and then freezing temperatures, and harsh terrain,” said the event’s organizers, United Kingdom based “The Adventurists.”
“All on the back of semi-wild, tough-as-teak Mongolian horses, who like to start the day by bucking their riders off just to show who’s boss.”
The derby began on August 7 with riders expected to complete the race by August 16.
Long finished the race on August 14, two days ahead of the expected finish. He changed horses 28 times throughout the derby.
“At each horse station the small, tough, semi-wild Mongolian horses are carefully checked over by vets, and all Bob’s horses vetted cleanly throughout the race, meaning he received no veterinary time-penalties,” the announcement states.
“Plenty of the 2019 riders received medical treatment for ‘minor’ injuries, such as a broken nose, concussion and dehydration, but not Bob, whose solo adventure across the steppe has been one of the most impressive performances seen in the history of the Derby.”
Long trained broncs and sold them to fund his university education, the release states. He also rode and trained pack mules for things like hunting.
“He is a master at the competitive sport of Extreme Mountain Trail, and has many awards in that discipline; the ideal preparation for the most extreme race of them all, the Mongol Derby,” The Adventurists added.
“He also pursues Ranch Horse Versatility – Ranch Cow Cutting, Ranch Reining, Ranch Riding, Ranch Trail and Ranch Working Cow. Multiple disciplines that require a multitude of skill sets to be successful.”
As to the roughly 650 mile race, Long says it was no sweat.
“’It’s nothing – you just ride 650 miles. There’s nothing to it,’ joked Bob. ‘I’ve only stayed overnight at one horse station; I’ve been staying with local families. They’re spectacular.’”
The event organizers were impressed by his performance.
“Mr. Tom, head honcho of race organisers The Adventurists, said: ‘Bob isn’t just the oldest, he has ridden better and stronger, camping out more, than anyone else. We opened up the course this year to make navigation a key skill again, and Bob absolutely nailed it. The man is tougher than a box of concrete.’”
Long said that his age was not significant.
“’Age is just a number,’” he said.
Long finished ahead of 45 other competitors, including second place Wiesman Nel of South Africa and a group of third place finishers which included The Netherlands’ Margreet Voermans and Australia’s Jesse Byrne, Justine Hales and Sarah Brown.
“Local herders came from miles around to greet Bob; the horse is an integral part of Mongolian culture, and they recognised another truly instinctive horseman in Bob,” the announcment adds. “He rode carrying a picture of himself as a child on a horse that was taken by his mother, who died recently.”