Mongolia,raw wilderness and natural beauty as far as the eye can see in the vast openness of the grassland, stupas, ger villages and Buddhist Monasteries. The Gobi March (Mongolia) 2018 takes places in the culturally rich and visually stunning area of Karakorum.
Competitors will have the opportunity to experience a diverse and varied course, with highlights including Karakorum, the 13th and 14th century capital of Genghis Khan’s Empire, the vast steppe, the Orkhon Valley Cultural Landscape, which is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Centre, as well as ancient ruins, temples and stupas. The terrain will include sand dunes, great rock valleys and old forests, while competitors will at times sleep in traditional Mongolian yurts. Competitors will also experience a traditional Naadam Festival, featuring Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery – known as the “three games of men.”
The host town for the race is the capital city of Ulaanbaatar - which translates to “Red Hero”. This bustling city known for its stark contrasts, is where you will be able to experience the local culture of Mongolia, while also seeing the busy life of modern day Mongolia. You will have the opportunity to visit, Gandantegchenling, which translates roughly as ‘the great place of complete joy’ - Ulaanbaatar’s oldest, and most iconic temple.
With a population of appropriately 1.3 million people, half of Mongolia’s population lives in Ulaabaatar. This means you will find an interesting mix of Mongolia’s twenty-nine ethnic groups. Their colourful culture, unique way of life and lack of visitors from outside of Mongolia make Ulaanbaatar a unique place in Central Asia.
The climate that the area experiences varies greatly depending on the specific location due to the topography, which varies from plain, desert and mountain climates. The area annually experiences temperatures of up to 50°C / 122°F in the summer and has been known to drop to -40°C / -40°F in the winter.
The Gobi March is held in the summertime but with the variety in terrain and location the temperature changes over the course of the race. There is a possibility of rainfall during the race.
The race starts at approximately 1,000 m / 3,300 feet and climbs up to an elevation of approximately 1,500 m / 5000 feet and remains at this level for most of the race. During The Long March, competitors will reach the Orkhon Valley.
The Gobi March was founded in honor of three missionaries: Mildred Cable and sisters Francesca and Eva French. Mildred, Eva and Francesca were Christian missionaries who began their work in China around the turn of the century. After more than 20 years of doing routine missionary work in China, the trio headed northwest - to the Gobi Desert and beyond.
The women traveling for months by ox cart along the vast trade routes of the Gobi Desert in Gansu and Xinjiang Provinces. They made a point of visiting the poor, feeding orphans, healing the sick and educating girls. More than once they were assailed by bandits, and were caught up in local wars and even the occasional blinding blizzard.
Identifying the similarity with these pioneers and their maverick determination, RacingThePlanet held its first 4 Deserts race, the Gobi March (China) 2003. Like Cable, who had "become part of its life" after crossing the length of the desert more than five times, so does each participant of the Gobi March (China) become a part of the history and legacy of this majestic land.
A special award, the Cable-French Trophy is presented to a competitor who best exemplifies the characteristics of Mildred Cable and Eva and Francesca French.
Competitors will obtain a rich cultural experience as the course passes through numerous villages and homesteads of the local community. There are twenty-nine ethnic groups in Mongolia. Brief descriptions of two cultures are provided below, as well as the Khalkas who make up the majority of the Mongolian population.
The Durbet are a Western Mongol tribe. They are primarily located in the western part of Mongolia, near the border of Russia. In the early 1600s, most of their ancestors left their homeland, Dzhungaria, which is now part of the Xinjiang region of China.
In addition to raising horses, most of the Durbet also raise cattle and sheep. Many of the Durbet live as nomads, and their lifestyle is one of seasonal migrations. Their dwellings are portable tents called gers or yurts, made of felt on lattice frames. Their diet includes millet, milk tea, dairy products, mutton, and kumiss, or fermented mare's milk.
There are about 100,000 Kazakhs in Mongolia. The Kazakhs make up about 5% percent of the population of Mongolia.
They are excellent horsemen and have generally kept their nomadic ways of life. Many Kazakhs in Mongolia maintain traditional semi-nomadic herding by moving with their animals several times a year, and living in a Kazakh style ger (larger and taller than a Mongolian ger) during the summer.
The Kazakh diet is primarily mutton, naan-bread, and tea mixed with sheep or horse milk. Mutton is often eaten in big chunks by hand and nan-bread is dipped into tea with goat's milk.
The most visible expression of tradition one will notice is the world famous art work of these nomadic people of the steppe. Kazakhs are famous around the world for their intricately embroidered wall hangings (tuskies) used on ger (yurt) walls. A typical ger may have 5 to 7 wall hangings that can take 200 hours to hand stitch each. The curving designs of the wall hangings are patterned after goat horns which symbolize the primary source of wealth of the nomadic herder.
The Khalkhas are the largest group of Mongols in Mongolia. They consider themselves the direct descendants of Genghis Khan and therefore, the true preservers of Mongol culture. The Khalkha people represent over 80% of the population.
Traditionally, most Khalkha lived in mobile herding camps that were moved four or five times a year from one pasturage to another. The traditional Khalkha dwelling was the circular felt tent erected on a collapsible lattice frame. This structure—called a ger or (in Turkic languages) a yurt, or yurta—is readily disassembled and transported. In the late 20th century it was still a common form of housing in Ulaanbaatar, where population growth outpaced the construction of apartment buildings.
The Khalka diet consists almost entirely of meat, milk, and other animal products. The most popular drink is fermented mare’s milk, or airag.
Naadam Festival is considered expression of nomadic culture and a celebration of a national independence through traditional sports and art featuring Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery – known as the “three games of men.”
The origin of Naadam festival is directly linked to the history of Mongolian military practice during the time of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan whose selection of his key soldiers was based on series of physical tests. The leader of military groups chose their warriors based on their strength, movement and flexibility revealed in their wrestling skills, their eye-sight and hand-orientation shown in their spear-throw and archery skills, their patience and bravery exposed in their horse training and horse racing skills during public competitions. Before and after major battles, the three sports - wrestling, horseracing and archery - were exercised as an organized event, which later adopted its present name - Naadam.
Mongolia sprawls across an area almost three times the size of France and twice the size of Texas, and at the same time, it has the world’s lowest population density. Doubled with the nomadic nature of its people (which therefore means there are few cities or infrastructure) and their Shamanic beliefs that prohibit interference with the environment, Mongolia’s nature and wildlife remain well preserved and relatively undisturbed.
Mongolia, historically Outer Mongolia, country located in north-central Asia. It is roughly oval in shape, measuring 1,486 miles (2,392 km) from west to east and, at its maximum, 782 miles (1,259 km) from north to south.
About 85% of the population are ethnic Mongols; they are primarily Khalkha, which account for about 90% of all Mongols. The remainder include Durbet Mongols of the north and Dariganga Mongols in the east. Turkic speakers (including Kazakhs, Turvins, and Khotans) account for about 7% of the population. Other groups include those of Chinese and Russian origin.
Did you know?
There is a theory that Mongolian horseman may have invented ice cream, when they took cream in containers made from animal intestines as provisions on long journeys across the Gobi desert in winter. As they galloped, the cream was vigorously shaken, while the sub-zero temperature caused it to freeze. The expansion of the Mongol Empire spread ice cream through China, from where Marco Polo reputedly brought the idea to Italy when he returned from his travels in 1295.