Northglen News: Humanitarian race to save babies

Paul Erskine and the Mongol Derby in the Northglen Newsby Lauren Anthony
Published in the Northglen News, 03/06/2011

“TWENTY-FIVE semi-wild horses will be ridden over 1 000 kilometres in 11 days over tough Mongolian landscape for one charity.

La Lucia’s Paul Erskine seems to fear nothing and seek the ultimate thrill wherever he can. He describes himself as an entrepreneur, adventurer and humanitarian. He’s semi-retired from the coal mining industry, and when he has any spare time, he attacks his bucket list of things he wants to accomplish before he dies.

To date he has crossed the North Pole on a husky sled, visited five of the seven wonders of the world, travelled to 72 countries, played on 43 of the 100 top golf courses and done the top 20 dives among other things.

I’ve read all the ‘1 001 things to do before you die’ books and very few of the suggestions had that ‘wow’ factor, so I decided to start my own bucket list,” said Paul.

La Lucia's Paul Erskine, entrepreneur, adventurer and humanitarian, is competing in the Mongol Derby to raise funds for Fairhaven's Babies' Home.

La Lucia's Paul Erskine, entrepreneur, adventurer and humanitarian, is competing in the Mongol Derby to raise funds for Fairhaven's Babies' Home.

Paul’s latest adventure is the Mongol Derby, a horse race across Mongolia starting 6 August, raising funds for Indlela’s home for abandoned babies, Fairhaven’s Babies Home.

Abandoned babies are a cause close to my heart. They didn’t have a choice and are born with zero people to call on which is why Fairhaven’s is my chosen charity.

Paul said although he’s a horse rider, he’s never been an endurance rider, so he’s been training at Perseverance stud farm in Graaff-Reinet to get himself ready.

I read about Holly Budge, the first woman to skydive over Mount Everest, in a travel magazine, and her next adventure was the Mongol Derby where she explained how you ride 14 hours a day carrying all your food, tent and supplies, and I knew this is what I wanted to do.

There are 20 riders involved in the Derby, five of whom are South Africans, and the entrance fee, if you’re selected, is a whopping 10 000 dollars.

I was selected on the 14 or 15 December 2010,” recalled Paul. “My weight in January was 92-and-a-half kilogrammes and I had to get it down to 85 to race. I’m now sitting at 78 kilogrammes and am allowed five kg’s of extras such as a tent and food.

Riders travel from 6am to 8pm and can go at their own pace, camping overnight where they see fit.

A tracker is fitted on the helmet with two buttons; one to alert the organisers if the horse has been injured and one to indicate that the rider is in distress.

It will take them about two to four hours to reach a rider who needs help,” explained Paul.

Paul has covered all his own costs and all donations will go directly to Fairhaven’s. Donations and pledges can be given”

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