60-Year-Old Endurance Rider Takes on 700km Ride
This October, in a world tipped on its ear by COVID-19, 60-year-old endurance rider Julie Veloo is taking fundraising challenge to the extreme by racing through the 700 kilometre Gobi Gallop route across the wilds of the Mongolian countryside… alone.
Julie Veloo is the founder of the world’s longest annual charity endurance ride, the 700km, 10-day Gobi Gallop. She is also an associate member of The Long Riders’ Guild and the Vice President and passionate cofounder of Veloo Foundation, which runs The Children of the Peak Sanctuary Project in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. This project feeds, cares for, and educates hundreds of the most seriously disadvantaged Mongolian children, and provides training, employment and opportunities for in excess of 110 community members and displaced herdsmen.
Julie has lived and worked in Mongolia since 2010 and in addition to learning to ride there at the age of 50, she has learned the language, established a number of charity initiatives, and has shared a variety of charity rides with hundreds of visiting riders. In seven years of operation, The Gobi Gallop and star-studded Gobi Gallop Gala, which concludes the ride each year, have raised in excess of $540,000 USD to help Mongolian children and families who scavenge to survive. It was with great regret that Julie had to postpone the 2020 Gobi Gallop this June due to the full closure of the Mongolian border in March due to COVID-19.
This fall of 2020, as COVID-19 restrictions inside of Mongolia begin to ease and over 300 children return to the Veloo Foundation’s Children of the Peak Kindergartens 1 and 2, Veloo Foundation finds itself missing the funds normally raised by this record-breaking equestrian event. In response, Julie Veloo, as a long term resident of Mongolia and perhaps the only foreigner in a position to undertake some of the legendary endurance events traditionally associated with riding in Mongolia, has decided to continue the Gobi Gallop tradition unbroken and ride a solo 700 km Gobi Gallop Challenge.
The challenge began on October 8, 2020, just a few days after Julie emerged from a five-week travel-related quarantine and just a week after her 60th birthday. Julie, with support from her Mongolian friends Saraa and Baagii of Horse Trek Mongolia, headed off in an attempt to shave days off the usual 10 days required to ride the 700 km Gobi Gallop. As winter approaches and with the threat of freezing weather and snow a very real consideration, this is looking to be a serious challenge, not just of endurance physically, but also of the mental stamina as she undertakes the challenges the Mother Nature and Mongolia are sure to throw at her.
Julie has ridden every step of every Gobi Gallop every year since its inception in 2013, and is thrilled that there is a way for her to continue that this year as well. Julie’s full ride will be shared on all Veloo Foundation, Gobi Gallop, and Horse Trek Mongolia social media platforms, and in addition to what promises to be amazing riding footage, will include segments on how to ride Mongolian horses, details of the Mongolian saddle, how to ride Mongolian style, Mongolia horse care information, traditional etiquette inside a Mongolian ger (a portable, circular dwelling), historical sites, and full access to the inside story of what it takes minute by minute to put on major international equestrian events out in the wilds without electricity or regular internet. Raw and real and including many real time interviews with local Mongolians, these feeds will be of interest to anyone who is curious about riding, lifestyle, and horse care in the oldest unbroken horse culture on the planet.
The Veloo Foundation helps disadvantaged Mongolian children and provides assistance in the community.
All Julie asks is that those of you interested in riding Mongolia and her epic record-breaking attempt to finish 700 km faster than anyone previously, is that you visit her fundraising page and make a small donation or join the monthly sponsorship program to help her continue caring for and educating these hundreds of children. All of the money that has ever been raised by the Gobi Gallop (minus bank fees) has stayed in Mongolia. Julie runs Veloo Foundation and organizes these rides entirely on a volunteer basis, and is proud that this ride and many other rides designed to suit “regular” riders help not only disadvantaged local Mongolian children, but also support many local herder families, small businesses, and artisans in Mongolia.
Veloo Foundation is a 501 (c)3 not-for-profit in the United States and a registered Canadian charity. Veloo Foundation founders Julie and Chelvan Veloo have received medals from the Canadian Governor General, the City of Ulaanbaatar, and the Mongolian Chamber of Commerce to honour their work with the children in Mongolia. 100 percent of all the money raised in this event will stay in Mongolia to help disadvantaged Mongolian children and their families.
To follow along with Julie’s Solo Gobi Gallop Challenge Ride please visit:
For more information on Veloo Foundation’s work that this ride is supporting, please visit their website.
For full information on The Gobi Gallop and other charity rides across Mongolia which benefit Veloo Foundation’s Children of the Peak Sanctuary project, please visit www.horsetrekmongolia.com.