Mongolia’s steppes host camel derby and beauty parade
DALANZADGAD, Mongolia (Reuters) - Out in the Gobi Desert, the crowd, many in colorful Mongolian traditional dress, admire the shaggy-haired, cud-chewing camels as they plod by in a beauty parade.
Later, many of their owners mount their beasts to drive them on a dusty, chaotic 15-km (nine miles) race across the steppeland.
It's all part of Mongolia's Camel Festival - an event as central to traditional nomadic life as the bactrian camel itself, a wooly, two-humped beast that sports a flowing beard of hair.
Guinness World records classes the race, that is part of the two-day festival, as the largest camel race in the world, drawing 1,108 participants from across Mongolia to the site outside Dalanzadgad in Umnugovi province. reut.rs/1SjjiZ3
This year, the winning camel romped home in 35 minutes and 12 seconds on the wind-swept steppe, according to the records website.
The bactrian camel itself is a beast of burden that normally carries everything that is required for a Mongolian to be able to build and live in a traditional Mongolian tent. They cost about $750 per piece.
Known fairly or unfairly for their feisty temperament, some ploughed into the crowd of spectators, though no injuries were reported.
"Your camel has to be bad-tempered for riders to get a place here," one person joked to another.
Many families trekked for at least seven hours from the capital Ulan Bator to watch the competition. There are minimal conditions to enter: the camels must be pure breed Mongolian bactrian and at least four years old. Entry is free. Continued...