What is the Mongol Derby
The Mongol Derby is officially credited by the Guiness Book of Records as the longest toughest horse race in the world. Run by The Adventurists, Its the Khaan's mother of equine adventures; a 1000km self guided multi-horse adventure race, at speed, across the incomparable Mongolian Steepe, one of the world's last true wildernesses and cradle of the largest land empire ever created. It is no guided tour, or pony trek. There is no marked course, just an un-route. No packed lunches, no shower block, no stabling. Just a rider, a team of horses, essential survival gear, and 1000km of wilderness.. Riders will need to look after themselves in extreme conditions, navigate independently, and overcome difficulties using their initiative and duct tape.
The Historical Roots of the Derby
In 1224 Chinggis Khaan set up the world's first long-distance postal transmission system. Using a massive network of horse stations - Morin Urtuus in Mongolian - his hardy messengers could gallop from Kharkhorin to the Caspian sea in a number of days.
For ten days each August, the Mongol Derby recreates this legendary system, building a network of Urtuus at 40km intervals along the entire 1000km course. Each Urtuu, hosted by a local nomadic family will consist of a small collection of Gers (canvas and felt tents which the nomads live in), a supply of fresh horses, a vet team and a few nomads. At these riders will change horses, rest (if you have to), embibe some airag (fermented mares milk) and eat a lot of mutton. There will also be a vet who will check every horse coming in and going out.
Mongolian horses were the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles of the thirteenth century. These indefatigable steeds once carried the all-conquering Mongol warriors across half the world. Diminutive (12 to 14hh), sturdy, fearless, gloriously wild and unbelievably tough, they're rightly revered in Mongolian culture, and have changed very little over the centuries, free as they are from human interference. They fend for themselves year round on the steppe, live fight, mate and die in their herds. They are the pride and joy of their herders. They are impervious to heat, cold, hunger, thirst, flies, floods, deserts, and really anything else that Mongolian mother nature can throw, these really are some of the toughest and most fit-for-purpose partners imaginable for the Mongol Derby. About 1000 of these feisty little beasts are used in the Derby. Horse welfare is the primary concern. In Chinggis Khaan's time abusing a horse was a beheadable offense.
Rules of the Race
The objective of the Derby is to race the other competitors the 1000km to the finish. In the Interest of a fair contest, safety, and with the welfare of the horses being paramount there are stringent rules in place. Riders can only move between stations between 7am and 8.30pm. Riders tracking beacons enforce this. Some riders ride 3 or 4 stations in a day. At every station there is a Vet team and welfare stewards who can impose time penalties where a horse has been over-ridden; and anyone seen riding negligently or abusively will incur time penalties. Time penalties hold you on course until the penalty is served. Horses have to come into horse stations with a heart beat of less than 64 Beats per minute. There is a 30 minute grace period. If after this the heart rate has not dropped a time penalty is issued. There is a weight limit of 85kg including saddles and kit.
Race Warning from the Adventurists
"...............To be clear, the back-up team is there to ensure the smooth running of the event logistics, and to deal with any emergencies. There will be no non-emergency communication, or outside assistance, or hand-holding, or sympathising, from the organisers to the riders. By taking part in this race you are greatly increasing your risk of severe physical injury or even death. Do not underestimate the extreme nature of the Mongol Derby. When you do fall off, the response time of the medical team is going to depend on where you are and if you have been able to activate your emergency beacon. If you are seriously injured you may be hundreds of miles from the nearest hospital ".
A Message from me......
This is an epic challenge, as is the pre race training in the months to come just to make it to the start line. Riding a horse for 100km a day is going to be very tough. I hope you can back me, sponsor me, root for me, and share this website with your friends, families and everyone you meet!. I would like to raise as much money as I can for two great charities. You can keep up to date with what I am doing through this website, facebook, twitter and my blog. Thank you!
The contents of this page have been edited and rewritten. For the full Derby Handbook please visit the Adventurists website : http://www.theadventurists.com/mongol-derby-handbook