One San Diego Woman’s Perseverance To Patagonia

COVID-19 impacted all of us, but for former San Diego resident Marcie Gately, it led to her giving up her downtown apartment and embarking on the journey of a lifetime. That journey will, in February next year, see her use her athleticism and perseverance to complete “the greatest test of horsemanship and wilderness skills on Earth… the Gaucho Derby.”

Marcie Gately’s Transatlantic Journey To The Gaucho Derby

Marcie Gately packed up her home in San Diego in June last year and has since traveled to Mexico, Croatia, Italy, France, Tahiti, Belize before heading to Kenya, South Africa, and, currently, Malawi

In February next year, Marcie will be arriving in Argentina to compete in the extreme multi-horse adventure race, the Gaucho Derby. Once there, Marcie will navigate her way across Argentina’s Patagonian wilderness, tackling 500km of unyielding terrain.

To give you an idea of the enormity of this undertaking, the pioneer version of this new equestrian event, which took place in March 2020, saw several competitors airlifted out with suspected hypothermia. Another racer faced a “possible concussion and a facial laceration” after being head-butted in the face by his horse.

What would possess a professional woman to leave the idyllic climate of San Diego and embark on such a challenge? Has Marcie got something to prove? Not really. Her motivation comes from a lifetime love of horses and a love of “adventurous things.”

Using Events From The Past As Lessons For The Future

With no long-distance endurance riding experience to rely on, Marcie believes her athleticism and perseverance will see her through the race.

Recalling her early running years, Marcie says, “You’re young, you’re running 8 miles a day, but one hot day, you don’t feel well, but if you want to get home, your only choice is to keep running. So you learn to keep going until you’re done.”

That lesson has helped Marcie in a lot of things, and she knows there will be times when she’ll need it during the race to “get through however many hours are left in that day or that night.”

It’s All In Your Mind – Visualizing The Path To Preparedness

Perseverance can only get you so far in the event of this magnitude. Marcie’s navigational skills will be put to the test, as will her gear and mental resilience. Nevertheless, Marcie’s taking it all in her stride, making lists, and using visualization to help her prepare. “For me, it’s all in my head. I plan it through and think it through, playing it over and over again,” she said.

Many athletes use visualization to “improve their performance by imagining themselves in action,” but it can be similarly applied to any aspect of life. “When you imagine yourself in a situation, you get to practice how you will act, think or feel in the future. Visualization can lead to a smoother experience of that future event, giving the needed confidence and experience to succeed.”

Pain and Suffering Are The Soil of Strength and Courage

In a previous article, we highlighted how women often outperform men in these multi-day events, and I asked Marcie why she thinks the female of the species has the upper hand.

“We have a lot of things that we cope with that we don’t necessarily share with other people,” she explained, “I think that, by going through a struggle like that, we’ve got some experience. We’ve been through things where we’ve just had to bear down and do it on our own.”

Although Marcie’s not yet sure how race will change her, she believes that persevering through something like this means, “You’re going to carry yourself differently. It will change your perspective in everything you do, and I think that women need that.”

Sometimes You Have To Be Selfish To Be Selfless

Marcie’s final piece of wisdom is that, to succeed, you need to put yourself first. “You’re told your whole life that being selfish is a terrible thing, an awful way to live, but I have learned in my life that that’s just wrong.”

“If you take care of yourself first, you will be in a better position to help others.”


While you may not be facing the greatest test of horsemanship and wilderness skills on Earth, you can still use visualization, perseverance, and every ounce of selfishness you can muster to give yourself the best chance of success.

You can also give someone else the chance to succeed by supporting Marcie’s friend and potential running mate, Megan Hodgson, as she raises the money needed to enter the Gaucho Derby and support the work of the non-profit organization, For Rangers.