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In Brief: Barry Armitage (52) from South Africa

Name – Barry Armitage
Age – 52
From – Cape Town, South Africa

Biography of Barry Armitage.

I studied clothing design and worked in the industry before getting into the yachting world. Horses became a part of my life when I returned to South Africa after many years of living in Europe. With riding partner Joe Dawson, I made three television series retracing epic horseback journeys that shaped history. One of those television series was about our ride in the 2011 Mongol Derby and began my obsession with long distance adventure racing. I rode the Derby again in 2012 crossing the line in a first-place dead heat with Irish jump jockey Doni Fahey only to lose due to a vet penalty.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. A nice walk.We were introduced to riding on the Wild Coast while filming our first expedition in 2010, again in 2011 during a 2,200km charity ride across South Africa and have ridden the coast extensively since. The first edition of Race the Wild Coast was held in October 2016 and won by South African Monde Kanyana. The film we shot about the race will be released in October 2017.

Notable achievements / palmares.

My most notable achievement must be winning the Mongol Derby this year. I had a great ride and was fortunate enough to be able to put pressure on the front runners on the last two days with some great horses. We were travelling very quickly, all three of us at the front of the race struggling to pass the vet checks in the heat, and I was fortunate that things went my way this time unlike 2012.

My toughest ride however was from Cape Town to Grahamstown in South Africa; 950km in six days over some pretty tough country. Joe and I were racing against the record of Sir Harry Smith’s 1835 ride which he achieved using the horseback postal system of the time. It was a brutal ride making use of a team of 36 horses. Our longest day was the last; 205km ridden with tired bodies and suffering from a lack of sleep. The tough old Englishman beat us to Grahamstown by four hours and as a result we called the resulting television show Chasing the Ghost of Harry Smith.

When did Barry Armitage start riding?

I always fancied riding horses but only really got going in when I bought my first horse in 2003 at the age of 37. It took a year or two for me to realise long distance riding was what really intrigued me; how to traverse a landscape on horseback as people did before vehicles took over after the turn of the last century.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. Full speed.Does riding run in the family?

Not at all, not one rider in the family!

Why horses?

There is nothing better than going a little too fast on a horse, across an unfamiliar landscape, feeling a little lost and wondering what’s over the next hill. Other than that, I’m not quite sure. I could quote Winston Churchill on this subject but that would be cheating!

Why endurance?

If you can’t do quality then quantity is the next best thing!

Own horses or ride for somebody else?

I currently have three horses that we use in our various expeditions. I am not riding endurance at the moment.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. Nice scenery.Do you train horses?

I haven’t in the past but my post Mongol Derby 2017 project is to bring on a young Arab from scratch; a new challenge for me.

What else do you enjoy?

Drinking red wine is very a close second to riding horses but I also box. It is a fascinating sport and keeps me fit and light.

Barry Armitage is also the organiser of Race the Wild Coast, why you do this?

When I was researching our first television show in 2009 I had the idea for a long-distance adventure race on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. Of course, I searched the internet for anything similar and found the Mongol Derby: the first edition of the race had just finished. I think it is fair to say that this was the start of an obsession for this kind of horse racing for me. It took us a few years to build our network and to figure out how to pull Race the Wild Coast together. October 2016 saw the inaugural race. Why do I do this? I’m really not sure but the vision spread the Rockethorse brand of racing to other continents with events in places of great natural beauty and generating incredible media to drive public interest in the races and of course sponsorship.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. In the sea.What are the challenges to organise this kind of event?

When we started planning the race we thought that finding enough fit capable horses, acclimatised to the conditions of the Wild Coast would be our main issue. While this remains one of the major costs and organisational obstacles it was relatively easy in the end, mainly due to Wiesman Nel from Moolmanshoek Endurance buying into the concept wholeheartedly. The critical issue for us going forward is securing significant sponsorship to make the race financially viable. The rest against the incredibly beauty of the Wild Coast is easy!

What is the difference of preparing for Barry Armitage for an event as athlete or organiser?

I really enjoy the training for a long ride. It is just my mind and my body that need to be bashed into shape; reasonably well-known quantities which just need tweaking to be ready. I do a lot of work in the gym working on core muscle strength and legs, typically 5 days a week. I also do a lot of running and cycling which helps me get as light as possible for riding. I lost 9kgs for this year’s Mongol Derby and from day four onwards fitness really starts to count. Having dislocated my shoulder and fractured my humerus in a fall nine weeks before the race I did very little riding as I struggled to get onto a horse until two weeks before! I rode a paltry 160km in preparation as a result.

Preparing for Race the Wild Coast is far more stressful. It is a huge logistical undertaking in a very remote part of the world with so much dependant on other people and entities, and far too much time spent in front of a computer. While there is a huge sense achievement in the project my one regret is that I will probably never get to ride it!

Photo credit: Julian Herbert and Go Yonder.

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In Brief: Barry Armitage (52) from South Africa

Name – Barry Armitage
Age – 52
From – Cape Town, South Africa

Biography of Barry Armitage.

I studied clothing design and worked in the industry before getting into the yachting world. Horses became a part of my life when I returned to South Africa after many years of living in Europe. With riding partner Joe Dawson, I made three television series retracing epic horseback journeys that shaped history. One of those television series was about our ride in the 2011 Mongol Derby and began my obsession with long distance adventure racing. I rode the Derby again in 2012 crossing the line in a first-place dead heat with Irish jump jockey Doni Fahey only to lose due to a vet penalty.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. A nice walk.We were introduced to riding on the Wild Coast while filming our first expedition in 2010, again in 2011 during a 2,200km charity ride across South Africa and have ridden the coast extensively since. The first edition of Race the Wild Coast was held in October 2016 and won by South African Monde Kanyana. The film we shot about the race will be released in October 2017.

Notable achievements / palmares.

My most notable achievement must be winning the Mongol Derby this year. I had a great ride and was fortunate enough to be able to put pressure on the front runners on the last two days with some great horses. We were travelling very quickly, all three of us at the front of the race struggling to pass the vet checks in the heat, and I was fortunate that things went my way this time unlike 2012.

My toughest ride however was from Cape Town to Grahamstown in South Africa; 950km in six days over some pretty tough country. Joe and I were racing against the record of Sir Harry Smith’s 1835 ride which he achieved using the horseback postal system of the time. It was a brutal ride making use of a team of 36 horses. Our longest day was the last; 205km ridden with tired bodies and suffering from a lack of sleep. The tough old Englishman beat us to Grahamstown by four hours and as a result we called the resulting television show Chasing the Ghost of Harry Smith.

When did Barry Armitage start riding?

I always fancied riding horses but only really got going in when I bought my first horse in 2003 at the age of 37. It took a year or two for me to realise long distance riding was what really intrigued me; how to traverse a landscape on horseback as people did before vehicles took over after the turn of the last century.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. Full speed.Does riding run in the family?

Not at all, not one rider in the family!

Why horses?

There is nothing better than going a little too fast on a horse, across an unfamiliar landscape, feeling a little lost and wondering what’s over the next hill. Other than that, I’m not quite sure. I could quote Winston Churchill on this subject but that would be cheating!

Why endurance?

If you can’t do quality then quantity is the next best thing!

Own horses or ride for somebody else?

I currently have three horses that we use in our various expeditions. I am not riding endurance at the moment.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. Nice scenery.Do you train horses?

I haven’t in the past but my post Mongol Derby 2017 project is to bring on a young Arab from scratch; a new challenge for me.

What else do you enjoy?

Drinking red wine is very a close second to riding horses but I also box. It is a fascinating sport and keeps me fit and light.

Barry Armitage is also the organiser of Race the Wild Coast, why you do this?

When I was researching our first television show in 2009 I had the idea for a long-distance adventure race on the eastern seaboard of South Africa. Of course, I searched the internet for anything similar and found the Mongol Derby: the first edition of the race had just finished. I think it is fair to say that this was the start of an obsession for this kind of horse racing for me. It took us a few years to build our network and to figure out how to pull Race the Wild Coast together. October 2016 saw the inaugural race. Why do I do this? I’m really not sure but the vision spread the Rockethorse brand of racing to other continents with events in places of great natural beauty and generating incredible media to drive public interest in the races and of course sponsorship.

Endurance World Barry Armitage. In the sea.What are the challenges to organise this kind of event?

When we started planning the race we thought that finding enough fit capable horses, acclimatised to the conditions of the Wild Coast would be our main issue. While this remains one of the major costs and organisational obstacles it was relatively easy in the end, mainly due to Wiesman Nel from Moolmanshoek Endurance buying into the concept wholeheartedly. The critical issue for us going forward is securing significant sponsorship to make the race financially viable. The rest against the incredibly beauty of the Wild Coast is easy!

What is the difference of preparing for Barry Armitage for an event as athlete or organiser?

I really enjoy the training for a long ride. It is just my mind and my body that need to be bashed into shape; reasonably well-known quantities which just need tweaking to be ready. I do a lot of work in the gym working on core muscle strength and legs, typically 5 days a week. I also do a lot of running and cycling which helps me get as light as possible for riding. I lost 9kgs for this year’s Mongol Derby and from day four onwards fitness really starts to count. Having dislocated my shoulder and fractured my humerus in a fall nine weeks before the race I did very little riding as I struggled to get onto a horse until two weeks before! I rode a paltry 160km in preparation as a result.

Preparing for Race the Wild Coast is far more stressful. It is a huge logistical undertaking in a very remote part of the world with so much dependant on other people and entities, and far too much time spent in front of a computer. While there is a huge sense achievement in the project my one regret is that I will probably never get to ride it!

Photo credit: Julian Herbert and Go Yonder.

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