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Beyond the Bale : December 2018
The Mongolian Derby is known as the longest and toughest horse race on earth – navigating a course that recreates the horse messenger system developed by Ghengis Khan in 1224. Riders square up to 1000km of Mongolian wilderness on semi-wild horses, changing steed every 40km. The terrain includes high passes, huge valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetland, dunes and of course open steppe. Riders navigate and survive on their own wits and skill, living among the herders. There’s no marked course, no packed lunches, no beds to sleep in. This is no pony trek or guided tour – only half the competitors entering the race complete it. This might seem daunting to the average person. But for four cousins, hailing from Breadalbane and Gundy in NSW, it was a challenge that paled in comparison to the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) that afflicts their father and uncle Rob Bell every day. Henry Bell (Rob’s son) and his three cousins Rob, Ed and Jack Archibald decided to dedicate their Mongolian Derby challenge to Rob, and raise funds for Kiss Goodbye to MS, the MS Research Australia’s fundraising initiative. The initial goal for their ‘Ride for a Cure’ campaign was $100,000. MERINO A MUST As it came closer to the start date, the team realised they were going to need gear that could keep them cool as they rode all day, warm at night and water and wind resistant if they were going to get through the volatile Mongolian storms. Merino wool was the only thing that would be able to get them through the varying climate, keeping in mind, no showers or baths would greet them at the end of the day. AWI facilitated a partnership for the team with performance wear brand Helly Hansen who kitted out the team with base-layer performance Merino sportswear. “We could only pack a couple of items to keep under the weight limit, so we took a Merino base-layer long-sleeved shirt, short-sleeved shirt and full-length tights. We rode in the short sleeve shirt every single day and slept in the long-sleeved shirt and tights each night,” explained Ed. “We found that wearing wool kept our body temperatures balanced throughout the day whilst at night when the mercury dropped we were grateful for the long-sleeved Merino shirt; it was like a second skin.” GREAT SUPPORT Being impressed by the performance of the Merino wool gear was not the only welcome surprise that met the team. The donations, large and small from across the country went above and beyond their imagination. Four cousins from country NSW took part in this year’s Mongolian Derby – racing on horseback for eight days across a thousand kilometers of the Mongolian steppe – all while wearing Merino wool base-layers. ACROSS MONGOLIA WITH MERINO One sheep producer donated the profit raised from selling 100 lambs. Elders, the producer’s broker, matched this and donated its share in these proceeds whilst the transport company Goulburn Livestock donated the cost of freight of getting the lambs to market. Another woolgrower from NSW, Richard Walker, donated the proceeds of two of their best superfine wool bales to the cause, and hundreds of family, friends and complete strangers generously donated to the Ride for a Cure cause. Henry said that the team had been truly humbled by the overwhelming support they had received. “To date, we have raised more than $189,000 for MS Research Australia. Thank you to everyone who donated, supported us in the lead up to the race and cheered us on as we rode across the steppe. The support we have received is a testament to the generosity of the community around us.” MORE INFORMATION Read more about the team’s race, and to donate, visit www.arideforacure.com And they’re off! Competitors on their 1,000km race across the Mongolian steppe. During their whole journey they didn’t pass through any gate and they saw less that 5km of fencing. Henry, Jack, Ed and Rob wearing their Helly Hansen Merino wool base-layers, with two local herders during a break in the race. OFF FARM 11
In the Shops - March 2019