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Well, that happened.

1000 kilometers on 30 different horses in 8 days. 12 hours in the saddle every day at a trot or a gallop, filming most of the time. 5 hours of usable footage, 4 kilos of lost body weight, and 1 very happy (and very exhausted) camper. Ivo did collapse after crossing the finish line though and didn't surface for about 18 hours. He stayed with his subject Monde Kanyana most of the time, until he fell seriously ill and had to take an afternoon off.

PictureA local herder and son
Ivo had to ride hell for leather for two days on his own to catch up withMonde  again. Those two days, staying with nomad families, helping to herd their horses and livestock and live with them, he won't ever forget. On his blog over at 3rd-i.com he said, "it always goes to show, life is at its most memorable when you're way out of your comfort zone. And the hospitality of the people is simply breathtaking. I was still on antibiotics due to what we dubbed Mongol Belly so I felt 'safe' eating unidentifiable lumps of something or other handed to me in the dimly flickering light of the dung burner, washed down with Chenggis vodka and airag (fermented mare's milk – the national drink of Mongolia)". 

PictureAnother group shot with Monde
The race went down without any serious incident for Monde and Ivo — unlike some of the other competitors, who suffered serious injuries, illnesses, lost horses, and early retirenment. Monde and Ivo were careful at chosing horses and managed to stay on even through bucking and bolting, and never lost a horse. They rode through deserts, swamps, mountains, wolf and bear country. They saw foals that had been attacked the night before. The nomads they encountered had never seen a black person before, let alone someone who could ride with the best of them – so they quickly became a travelling attraction, resulting in a lot of group photos. Mongolians are world-reknowned for their horsemanship and  judge visitors by the way they can deal with the wild Mongolian steeds. Suffice to say, they were very impressed with Monde, the horse whisperer from rural South Africa.

PictureMonde and the gelding
As his reputation started to precede them, Monde was often asked to look at a particularly unridable horse as the two pulled into a horse station. This was as much a way of testing him as it was out of curiosity to see how the Black Man would do it. At the penultimate station he was asked to see what he could do with a 2-year–old gelding that had never been ridden before, and that wouldn't let anyone ride it. Obviously he took the challenge and half an hour later he sat on the previously bucking and rearing beauty, now though tame as a lamb. This did mean that the two of them dropped two places in the race standing as other competitors passed them during that time. 

PictureMonde at the last horse station
When the zulu warrior at last barrelled down the final furlong I had a hard time keeping the camera steady, moved to tears and elation as I was. This race takes it out on you to be sure, and a lot of elemental emotions come boiling up and often catch you off-guard. Monde didn't win the race, but he did win the prize for best horsemanship, an accolade that was created especially for him.



So now it's back to the edit, to weave together all the storylines for our epic adventure film. Sit tight.