THE COLD COURSE. GOLF AT MINUS 40 IN MONGOLIA

 

Golf_finalGreenGolf has been played for centuries, and is played by 55 million people, in 206 countries worldwide.  A little known fact is that a study from Sweden showed that the average golfer lives 5 years longer than those that don’t play, regardless of age, gender, and earnings.

But while conditions in Scotland were tough for professionals at the Old Course in St Andrew’s leading to the British Open finishing a day late, they were positively clement compared to what awaited us in Mongolia. The Genghis Khan Country Club is elaborately named, and hosts one of 4 golf courses in Mongolia. However it was not golf as we know it, with temperatures dipping to -40, where celcius and farenheight meet and the greens were completely frozen just as we hoped.

Driving Range and clubhouseAfter a few rapid practice swings, with the Terelj Gorge and the Khenti mountains as a backdrop we set off  to play. Standard equipment would not work in these conditions, so we were grateful to Titleist for the bright yellow golf balls, and winter beanies, and to Footjoy for their winter gloves.  These have now been tested in the coldest conditions and helped us enormously.  Nevertheless preferred lies were in operation as the balls frequently lodged in the snow, and the ball travelled a shorter distance possibly due to the extreme sub-zero temperatures.  A new form of golf has emerged called speedgolf- a combination of golf and playing as quickly as possible, which is pretty much what we did to counter the conditions.

Paul_TitleistPaul Dunstan, an associate championship director with the European Tour golf played the best round of the day, including chipping in off a TV camera, taking the crown from David Scott who had come out on top at Wild Golf Namibia, where golf was played in temperatures of +40 degrees, in the world’s largest bunker, the Namib desert. Future events are tentatively planned for the Himalaya, and the Salt flats of Bolivia.

BRITISH ADVENTURERS TO BREAK NEW GROUND IN MONGOLIA

There is starting to be a bit of press interest in the trip to Outer Mongolia. Here is a little info, in case it is helpful.  Currently at the airport, it should be a cracker!

With average temperatures of -40 Celsius, and the lowest density of human habitation on earth, Mongolia in winter is widely considered one of the most beautiful, yet savage places on earth.  Perhaps it is unsurprising that few have attempted any serious endurance challenges there in winter, but January 2016 will see a band of hardy British adventurers attempt the inaugural Genghis Khan Ice Marathon, run not on land, but along the frozen Tuul gol river, an area heavily populated with wolves, with the route patrolled by teams of huskies to ensure their safety.

Genghis Khan Ice Marathon start

These challenges have been set by expedition leader David Scott of Sandbaggers (www.sand-baggers.com) , a veteran of over 20 trips to Mongolia, and Dr Andrew Murray.

Scott, 42, from Glasgow, who is also Mongolian Honorary Consul for Scotland:

“Effort alone will not be enough.  Competitors will need to prepare themselves thoroughly for the frigid conditions, have the necessary quality clothing, and need a fair slice of luck, particularly with the weather. We have several teams of huskies to resupply runners, and ensure interactions with the local wildlife are safe.  And although there is a chance of failure, this is an area of extreme beauty, of vast skies, unique culture, and a rich history. It is also an opportunity for a world first. The runners are no strangers to extreme endurance, and they come from all corners of the globe.

It’s a real privilege to be involved in furthering relations between Mongolia and Scotland.  This is the latest in a series of sporting and cultural events and I’m particularly honoured to be attending the 5th Ulan Bator Burns supper with such illustrious company, in advance of the event itself.’

Murray, 35 from Edinburgh, who works as a Sports and Exercise Doctor with University of Edinburgh and is a Merrell brand ambassador added

Training in Scotland

“It is human nature to test yourself, and try and test your own body’s limits.  I can’t say that my support crew has ever been a pack of huskies before, but I’ll be giving it everything I have to get to the finish and avoid frostbite and hypothermia. Conditions are expected to be -35 to minus 40, but it is likely to feel a little colder with the wind chill. But all those hours training up in the Scottish hills in winter whilst everyone else is enjoying their Christmas festivities will be worth it. Everyone will look to do well, but the principle objective is to finish, and have a full complement of fingers and toes to go home with- Dave Scott is the best in the business and will give us every chance.

Outer Mongolia is beyond spectacular. Where else could you run down an ice river in an area so steeped in history, with the prospect of a Burns supper, complete with a pipe band to look forward to when we arrive in Ulan Bator. In this endeavour, many of us are looking to promote the value of regular exercise for health. Even walking 30 minutes 5 times per week, makes you on average happier, and helps you live 7 years longer than couch potatoes.”

Shona Thomson, who has run marathons on all seven continents and the North Pole, is heading up the fundraising for RDA. Shona, who is sponsored by Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports, said,

Mongolian community on the Tuul river

“It’s incredible to be involved in this expedition and I’m looking forward to meeting old and new friends. I’ve got several objectives for the trip. Primarily, I want to raise a lot of funding for Riding for the Disabled (RDA) and the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). In addition to running the marathon, I’ll also be riding a Mongolian pony to help raise awareness of RDA. I’ve not ridden for years so I’m hoping that at a minimum the pony has been broken in!
I’m also looking forward to experiencing a new culture and visiting a country I might never have otherwise got to see. It’ll be wonderful to see the beautiful landscapes on the marathon course.

The expedition will support Scottish Charities Riding for the Disabled Association and the Scottish Association for Mental Health, whilst legacy work in Mongolia will see the building of gers (homes) for needy families, and the donation of medical equipment to rural communities

Our fundraising link and video can be seen here:

Fundraising link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/GhengisKhanIceMarathon

Fundraising video https://youtu.be/TuO5ZQKXTGc

The event will be supported by expedition organisers Sandbaggers, while Paisley based Digitalpict Photography will provide event & expedition photography, and HUTC will capture documentary and news video footage.

Fundraising link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/GhengisKhanIceMarathon

For further information, please contact

Dave Scott (expedition organiser, logistics/safety/Mongolian liaison) david@sand-baggers.com 07717755166

Andrew Murray (athlete) docandrewmurray@googlemail.com

Shona Thomson (RDA) shonat25@hotmail.com 07967975872