Mounted alum endures the Mongol Derby

September 24, 2013 5:10 PM

Fran Simon

Tulane University alumnus Thomas Burk and five other Americans who participated in the Mongol Derby are slated for an ABC News “Nightline” feature. The segment has been rescheduled to air on Tuesday (Oct. 1) at 11:35 p.m. CT. The Mongol Derby is a 1,000-kilometer horse race through the Mongolian steppe that took place in August.

Thomas Burk rides in Mongol Derby

Tulane alumnus Thomas Burk rides in the Mongol Derby, a 1,000-kilometer horse race through the Mongolian steppe that took place in August. (Photo by Richard Dunwoody)

During pre-race training in Mongolia for “the world’s longest and toughest horse race,” Burk severely injured his shoulder but still decided to attempt the ride.

“On the second leg of the first day, I had the best horse I probably rode the entire time. He was the first stallion I had ever ridden and his name was Adrian Beltre. We did the first seven miles in under half an hour.”

However, later in the day, Burk got caught in a thunderstorm with hail and lightning.

“We had to cross a very swift, wide river during this, but the horses handled it like champions. We were able to make it into Urtuu 2 by 8:45 p.m., which was the goal.”

The riders continued to endure hard rain and freezing temperatures. On a slow horse the second day, Burk began walking the eight miles to the next station, horse in hand, alone in the pouring rain. On the fifth day, the horse Burk was riding bucked and he twisted his shoulder. With the risk of hurting his shoulder further, he called it.

Since coming back from Mongolia, Burk has returned to his job as a risk management analyst at AGL Resources in Houston, where he has worked since graduating in 2012.

“I’m getting back into shape for the men’s lacrosse team I play on here, the Houston half-marathon this winter, and a bucking horse rodeo clinic I plan on attending in December. If all goes well at the clinic, there is an amateur rodeo circuit in the greater Houston area; Matt Lamb, a member of the ’11 class, and I are going to give it our best shot.”

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu