Gaucho Derby Training Day 1


Gaucho Derby Training Day 1

~ Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is just show up ~ 

After months of preparation and thousands of hours and countless miles of training, 23 riders gathered in the Kosten Aike Hotel training room in beautiful downtown El Calafate for their first taste of Gaucho Derby training. Today was about the basics: where exactly is this race? What will the next three training days be like? Where is the start line and how do we get there? A fair question, as start camp, situated some 500+ kilometres north of El Calafate, is so remote that only the locals really know where they are going. Erik, our intrepid event manager extraordinaire, ventured out to start camp a few days ago on a short recce only to have his driver’s vehicle sidelined by two flat tires some 100km from nowhere. Did we mention that this is one of the world’s toughest horse races? It’s also one of the world’s most remote. And getting to start camp is a journey peppered with some of the world’s most brutal, tire-trashing roads. Ah, but the scenery makes it all worthwhile…

But before the riders could venture out on these infamous roads, however, they had to take care of a little pre-Derby business back in El Calafate, specifically the equally infamous pre-Derby weigh-in. Each rider is allowed a maximum bodyweight of 85 kg dressed to ride. The weigh-in is quite easily the most talked-about topic pre-Derby, as keeping the weight under 85kg can be a bit of a challenge depending on what you want to wear for riding gear and how much extra gadgetry you want to pack. Our trusty HQ weigh-in maven Candice, armed with the “weigh scale of destiny”, ensured that each rider was no more than 85kg. Well done, Pioneers! Treat yourselves to an extra dessert tonight – you’ve earned it.

Weigh-in successfully completed, the riders filed onto the Magic Derby bus for their peaceful, short nine-hour journey to the back of beyond, where the Gaucho Derby crew has been working diligently to get start camp up and running. The horses for the first stage of the Gaucho Derby arrived at Estancia Perserverancia this evening in fine shape, ready for the riders to take out for a spin in the next couple of days during training. 

Tomorrow will see the riders getting their first taste of riding Patagonia-style when they saddle up for a test ride. Rumour has it that one of the gauchos at start camp can wield a guitar with as much finesse as he can sling a bolas, so there should be some rousing musicality to accompany the Malbec around the campfire tonight. Until tomorrow…