Local adventurer, entrepreneur, and humanitarian, Paul Erskine, is currently in training to ride 1,000 km across Mongolia on horseback for 11 days in August.
The Mongol Derby is the longest horse race in the world, consisting of riding semi-wild Mongolian horses through the remote wilderness of Asia, and Paul’s doing it to raise money for the orphaned and abandoned children of Indlela’s Fairhavens Babies Home in KwaZulu-Natal.
Paul has always had a passion for extreme adventure. To date he has crossed the North Pole on a sled pulled by huskies, visited five of the seven wonders of the world, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, travelled to 72 countries, and dived all over the world. And he still has a lot to tick off on his Bucket List.
This particular adventure though is fuelled by another passion close to his heart – his desire to make a difference in the lives of abandoned babies and toddlers.
Appalled at the high rate of abandonment, Paul has been inspired to raise money to benefit the children from Fairhavens Babies Home. Every rand donated will go towards nurturing and uplifting the lives of abandoned babies and orphaned children in South Africa.
The hostile Mongolian landscape will be Paul’s hardest challenge to date though – 20 riders testing their physical and mental mettle against the hardiest opponent – nature itself.
Paul’s on a rigorous training programme in preparation for the Mongol Derby – riding and gym every day, burning a minimum of 1,000 calories. Paul weighed 92.5 kg in January and has to get his weight down to 85 kg to race. He’s now sitting at 78 kg and is only allowed 5 kg’s of extras such as a tent and food.
The history of the Mongol Derby is closely tied to Genghis Khan‘s rule over 800 years ago. Khan created a postal system, in which horsemen travelled thousands of miles across Asia, stopping briefly at nomadic homesteads to replenish themselves and select a fresh steed before taking off again. Mongolia’s postal system boasted more than 300,000 horses – a display of ingenuity and wealth that helped form the greatest connected empire in history.
From the 6th of August, Paul will race semi-wild horses borne of the same bloodline as these ancient steeds, while self-navigating his way across 1,000 km of Mongolia’s steppe, only stopping to change horses every 40km.
By the end of the Mongol Derby, Paul will be one of a small handful of people in the world who can say they have ridden in the footsteps of Genghis Khan.