LONG RIDERS: Craig Springate, left, Sam Wyborn from New Zealand and Simon Pearse at the Mongol Derby.

Durban - After nine days of riding semi-wild horses across the harsh terrain of the Mongolian steppe, a Durban duo have returned to donate the funds they raised towards restoring disadvantaged people’s sight.

Simon Pearse, an income specialist and company CEO from the Midlands, and Craig Springate, a medical doctor from Durban North, recently completed the Mongol Derby – known as the world’s toughest horse race.

On August 10, nearly 50 people embarked on the 1 000km race, riding Mongolian horses which they changed every 40km.

The derby holds the world record for being the longest and most gruelling horse race on the planet. After 10 days, only 18 people crossed the finish line.

Based on Genghis Khan’s messenger system – which operated for centuries through the Mongolian Empire – the race followed no route, and supplied no food, showering or stabling.

Pearse remained positive, despite returning with several fractured ribs. He said undertaking an endeavour like the derby moved him out of his comfort zone, particularly when faced with unpredictable variables all the time.

“There’s such an arbitrary nature to the outcome of choices having to be made all the time, like the horse you choose or the route you take, or whether to move on or stop for the night.

“The result was living every moment in the present – a truly amazing experience.”

Pearse and Springate had to get used to the food – mainly goat, mutton and mare’s milk – but were welcomed by the nomadic people along the way.

“They took us in and offered us their hospitality. It was a bit like being transported back into an era of 1 000 years ago,” said Pearse.

Springate said although he had completed the Dusi Marathon several times, he had never done anything this extreme.

“I enjoy adventure and horse riding, so I decided to go for it.”

The pair raised money through sponsors before the race. They will donate their funds to the Right to Sight Organisation, which provides cataract surgery to disadvantaged communities around Africa. - Daily News