Just Chaps sponsored rider, Iain Paterson shares some pre-race insight into this gruelling test of horse, rider and kit.
So where to start, I guess the best place would be a bit of background on what this short blog post is all about. I am delighted that Just Chaps have provided me with Cool Chaps for the upcoming Race the Wild Coast, a 350km, 4-day race down the west coast of South Africa. The premise behind the race is to challenge the rider more than the horse, over the 350km course we are provided with three horses with compulsory horse changes at prescribed points: 123km and 209 km into the race. Horse welfare is a top priority, so each stage ends with a compulsory vet check which the horse must pass for the rider to continue in the race. Navigation is done with a GPS, loaded with a recommended track with riders deciding the best way to get from point to point, the terrain is seriously tough, steep slopes and rocky descents are broken up with stretches of beach and rivers, 32 of them in total which riders and horses have to swim across. The ride will require careful horse management and tactical riding throughout, a tough ask after 3-4 days sleeping in the bush!
My preparation for this race has been a summer long endeavour, I am an experienced endurance rider myself, riding my own horses over distances of up to 200 miles in a day in Scotland and competing at national and international level. The problem with super fit horses of my own is that they don’t need much riding, so in order to get myself riding fit I got my self a job in a racing yard riding out 5 horses a day, that ought to do it! This coupled with big endurance competitions on my own horse means I am hopefully fit enough, I’m sure the south African terrain will tell me soon enough whether I actually am!
The next big challenge was kit, we are only allowed to carry 5kg of kit for the whole 4/5 days including our sleeping bag. Lots of research later (admittedly mostly by my mother who found some incredible stuff) and my kit was ready, including my favourite chaps, Just Chaps Cool chaps.
I hope this gives everyone a wee insight into the upcoming challenge, more information on the race can be found at http://rockethorseracing.co.za/race-the-wild-coast/ as well as on Facebook and Instagram. I will write another blog post for you all after the race to tell you how it goes, until then, huge thanks to Just Chaps, for their generous sponsorship and for asking me to do this blog. Wish me luck!