Naadam is a national festival of Mongolia held every year on July 11 - 13. The festival consists of three games: Mongolian wrestling, horse racing and archery. The wrestling and the archery take place at the National Stadium and the horse racing is on a course outside the city. The race course is about 30 km long and is usually completed under half an hour - that's 40 mi/h. The riders are officially between 5 and 12 years old; we saw some girls, but most are boys. Some riders could barely stay straight on the horse when they reached the finish line. Some horses, too, come weary; and we saw one horse being led by it's rider. Not sure what the reward is for the place holder riders, but the horses' owner gets hefty ROI if they place.
Wrestling was difficult to follow, as multiple pairs would be competing at the same time and it all looked like a giant bowl of vinegarette.
The archery was interesting to watch. The competitors, men and women, were all decked out and accessoriesed in the traditional dress. The aiming seemed difficult, since the target was on the ground, so they not only had to aim the arrow into a bull's eye, but figure out a trajectory as well.
© Alek & Tanya