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2016 Mongol Derby: the world's toughest race

THREE riders cross the line together to win the 2016 Mongol Derby!

Richard Dunwoody photo

At 9.51am local time, Will Comiskey from Australia, Marcia Hefker-Miles from New Mexico and Heidi Telstad crossed the line, arms together, to take a triple dead heat in the 2016 Mongol Derby, the world’s longest and toughest horse race.

They gave thanks to the horses, herders and people of Mongolia for an incredible experience and said they wanted to share the experience of winning as a team just as they had shared the experience of the trail.

Will Comiskey, 28, ‘Dingo’, a cattle rancher from Longreach , said: “There were slow ones, there were wild ones, but ****, we had fun!!

Marcia Hefker-Miles, 45, from New Mexico, said her most memorable memory was: “Riding through a high mountain pass, past a boy and a girl both herding goats; making eye contact with them and waving. I saw myself in that little girl...”

Heidi Telstad, 43, a lawyer from British Colombia, said hers was: “Camping one night with a poor family; they gave everything they had to spare to me and my horse and treated me as one of their own.”

Next to finish in the Mongol Derby were Tatiana Mountbatten and Venetia Philipps, from the UK and Courtney Kizer from Texas. Other riders will finish shortly...

You can still follow the race via twitter https://twitter.com/mongolderbylive or if you use the + arrows on the tracker you can home in and hover your mouse over the blue dots so you can see exactly where the riders all are and how far they have travelled http://www.theadventurists.com/mongol-derby-live-dashboard/

What's It Like To Compete In A 10-Day, 600-Mile Horse Race? - Listen to Tim Finley on Here And Now

Will Comiskey tells how epic Mongolian ride was such a physical test - ABC.net.au


Wild horses carry Langley lawyer across finish line of the 2016 Mongol Derby - CBC.ca

Underlying defect likely to have caused Mongol Derby horse death

Horseandhound.co.uk - Full Article

Sarah Radford 10:56 - 15 August, 2016

Post mortem results have revealed an underlying defect was probably behind the death of a pony in this year’s Mongol Derby.

The mount of British dressage rider Tatiana Mountbatten died suddenly on day seven of the 1,000km horse race (August 10]), between urtuus (horse stations) 23 and 24.

Investigating vet Dr Jeremy Hubert found a massive diaphragmatic rupture, which he attributed to either a congenital defect or the legacy of an old kick injury.

“He found it unlikely that the rupture could have been the result of strenuous exercise. There is no evidence to suggest that anything Tatiana did while under saddle caused the rupture,” said Katy Willings in a statement from organisers The Adventurists HQ...

Read more at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/mongol-derby-horse-death-588126#JKXbBdpPFVU3XBFf.99

B.C. woman shares three-way tie in epic Mongolian horse race

Richmondite Camille completes Mongol Derby journey


Red Lodge's Hale, Manhattan's Griffis finish tied for 15th in Mongol Derby


Australia: Local lad Will wins 1000km adventure horse race

Moreechampion.com.au - Full Article

Grace Cobb
11 Aug 2016,

WILL Comiskey, the lad they call Dingo now based at Royston, Boggailla has taken out equal first place in one of the toughest horse back challenges on earth, the Mongol Derby.

All this while exceeding his fundraising goal for the Royal Flying Doctors.

Will’s Mongol Derby adventure was born from the desire to challenge himself and raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Will set out to raise $10,000 which he had managed to do before he left and has now raised $13,695 dollars for this organisation that is close to his heart.

Read more at: http://www.moreechampion.com.au/story/4089660/local-lad-will-wins-1000km-adventure-horse-race/

Redvers relishes Mongol Derby

Mongol Derby: Queenslander Will Comiskey wins the world's longest horse race


Horse dies at Mongol Derby

Equnews.com - Full Article

11 Aug 2016
By Editorial Equnews.org

I am sad to announce that Tatiana Mountbatten's horse from Urtuu 23 died extremely suddenly 8kms short of Urtuu 24 this morning. Riding with Venetia Phillips, as she had been throughout the Mongol Derby, Tatiana was momentarily aware that the horse did not feel right. Almost immediately the horse lay down and died.

The pair had been making good progress from urtuu 23, where they selected two fine racing horses. There was no indication that the horse was in anything other than the peak of health and fitness. Their average speed was 17kph.

Tatiana called for help at 11.07am. When our team arrived on the scene at 11.18am the horse was long dead, and she was transported to Urtuu 24.

The horse's owner, Jamiyanmyadag, has been informed, and compensated, though there is nothing we can do to console him over the loss of a treasured horse. He has very graciously allowed us to perform a post mortem examination on the horse to determine the cause of the death...

Read more at: http://www.equnews.com/en-GB/news/horse-dies-mongol-derby

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 10

Rider Josefine Schopman after finishing the Mongol Derby Photo by Laurence Squire for Mongol Derby

It's the end of Day 10, and all our riders have finished. Read the final leaderboard here.

"Nothing compares to the Mongolian pony. It’s natural selection at it’s absolute rawest."

Read the full interview with rider David Redvers here.

This year's Mongol Derby had three winners:

"During training I was shaking nervous. We had such good horses, such a good training ride, I got the confidence back."

Read the full interview with winner Heidi Telstad here.

"I had my first shower in 8 days. It was glorious, bloody hell. And then I could smell my clothes. we must've stank."

Read the full interview with winner William Comiskey here.

"I can’t wait to hug my family and reassure them that I’m ok. It’s hard to look your family in the eye and say 'I’m going to do something for fun that’s extremely dangerous.'"

Read the full interview with winner Marcia Hefker Miles here.

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 9

Tim Finley says a prayer for his fallen collegues with his last horse Photo by Richard Dunwoody for Mongol Derby

Day 9 saw the final two riders in Race Class and the first ten riders in Adventure Class finish..

First in, Peter Molony and Camille Champagne Bargenquas at 10.56. They were followed at 15.00 by Mike Becker who rode in solo as did Tim Finley at 16.09. At 18.36, Marie Griffis, Pierce Buckingham, Kelly Hale, Rosie Bathurst, Francisco Schnaas and Gareth Jones came over the finish line as a group. Finally at 20.30 Josefine Schopman and Hanna Backstrom arrived as dusk was descending. Congratulations to all.

They say the last horse is the hardest to return to the Mongolian herders. That has proved true for Tim Finley:

"This horse had more heart than any horse I've ever ridden, he just won't quit." - Rider Tim Finley

Although when asked if he was ready to do it again, he said "No, I think I'm ready to go home." That seems fair. The full album of the Day 9 finishers is up on facebook here.

Tomorrow, we expect the final five riders still on the course to reach the finish line. That's the Household Cavalry chaps, Seb Bridger, James Harbord, Urbain Tego Tagne, and Anthony Strange and Swede Carin Ostergren. Tonight, they are at Urtuu 26, only 80kms from the finish line.

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 8

The Mongol Derby 2016 winners: William Comiskey, Marcia Hefker-Miles and Heidi Telstad Photo by Richard Dunwoody for Mongol Derby

Day 8 is over and the Derby has been won. For the first time in Derby history, we don't have one winner - we have three. William Comiskey, Heidi Telstad and Marcia Hefker Miles crossed the finish line hand in hand at 9.48 on Thursday 11th August. Eight days after they began and over 1000kms away:

"I was surprised. At first, I was almost a bit crushed for them but the more I thought about it, it's such a beautiful sentiment. They have competed with each other and then at the point when there was diminishing returns, when they couldn't give each other the slip they found a way to overcome that. It's really lovely" - Katy, Race Chief

When pressed further she admits "my first instinct was panic - I've only got one trophy! But it's great." We'll have to find another two trophies before the prizegiving on Saturday evening.

Also over the finish line today, Venetia Philips, Courtney Kizer, Tatiana Mountbatten, David Redvers, Alice Newling, Alexandra Hardham and Shannon Nott.

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 7

Richard Dunwoody photo

Day 7 is over. Tonight, Heidi Telstad, William Comiskey and Marcia Hefker-Miles are at Urtuu 27. They have only one leg to go. It'll all be decided tomorrow.

Every single person in the field is riding fantastically well:

"All these riders are absolute troopers. It's easy to forget that everyone left in the race is doing 120-150kms in a day. Fantastic riders and great horses." - Katy, Race Chief

Tonight, USA rider Marie Griffis is without her steed. She dismounted for a toilet break in the woods and her horse trotted off without her, taking all her belongings. She looked for three hours in a steep sided valley between Urtuu 22 and 23 before admitting defeat and requesting help from our event teams. The verdict from the horse's owner? "Ah. Yes, he's done this before." If only she'd known.

"Its such a shame, she's been so competent. We're hoping the horse will turn up in the morning as they often do. We're pretty sure we can kit her up to ride on, after she's served the penalty for the help. Rubbish luck, but fair." - Katy, Race Chief

Venetia Philips and Tatiana Mountbatten are tonight camping between Urtuu 26 and 27 after a devastating day: the sudden death of Tatiana's horse between Urtuus. A post mortem examination has concluded. The vet identified a massive diaphragmatic rupture, which he believes to be a congenital defect or legacy of an old kick injury. The horse had been cleared by vets on leaving Urtuu 23, and there is nothing to indicate that the rupture was caused by strenuous exercise or Tatiana's riding. The horse's owner is Jamiyanmyadag. He has been informed, compensated and will receive our ongoing support. If you'd like to read more, there is a full statement here.

The rest of the field saw some rider retirements from Krista Donnelly and returning veteran, Anna Christina De Jonquieres. Both riders are this evening in good spirits but the wear and tear of the race has defeated them. Chips Broughton has also re-retired. He had a fall on Day 5, rejoined the race on Day 6 and has today decided to retire and allow his injuries heal comfortably.

Finally, a comment from one of yesterday's retirees, Cochetta Crowley: "The mountain passes in the Blood Wagon [support vehicle] were far scarier than they would be on a horse." Mongolia is better by horse.

Follow @MongolDerbyLive on Twitter for live commentary on Day 8. The course opens at 7am.

Isa’s Mongol Derby participant riding strong

Northweststar.com - Full Article

Samantha Walton
August 10 2016

IT IS day eight of the Mongol Derby and Mount Isa woman, Camille Champagne has already covered 818.99-kilometres.

The 1000-kilometre endurance ride is testing riders as they travel across Mongolia changing semi-wild ponies every 40-kilometres.

Camille is currently in 11th position although this is not the final result, with riders in front of her having received fines for assistance.

Averaging at 6.16km/h Camille is still a strong participant in the competition and still in the running for a podium finish.

Day three of the Mongol Derby saw Camille in 20th position against 40 other riders. The weather wasn’t too nice as she had to sleep in the rain.

Read more at: http://www.northweststar.com.au/story/4088303/isas-mongol-derby-participant-riding-strong/

Mongol Derby 2016 set for a nailbiting finish!

Richard Dunwoody @Mongol Derby photo

August 10 2016

The 2016 Mongol Derby, certainly this year living up to its name as the world’s longest and toughest horse race (“and it’s raining again….”) is set for a nail biting finish with any of five riders in a position to take the title.

At horse station 27, the last station before the finish, are William Comiskey, nicknamed ‘Dingo’, a cattle rancher from Australia, alongside Canada’s Heidi Telstad, a lawyer – and these two have been riding together for most of the race. With them is New Mexican cowgirl, Marcia Hefker-Miles.

Closely following are Courtney Kizer, a Texan showjumper and UK ‘Riding for Rangers’ team Tatiana Mountbatten, a professional dressage rider and 499th in line to the throne, and her team mate, Kenyan based Venetia Phillips who have stuck together like an Olympic duo throughout the race.
Behind these and also set for a top 10 finish are Shannon Nott, an Aussie bush doctor, UK rider and Qatar Racing’s David Redvers who has made steady progress as the race has progressed, and two more Brits, Alice Newling and Alexandra Hardham.

The race is set to finish tomorrow – with the leaders having just 40kms to go.

Of the 41 riders who set out, 14 have now retired due to injury and general knackered-ness. Some of those hospitalised earlier on in the week are currently en route to cheer on their team mates at the finish. Team Household Cavalry (was 5, one in hospital, so now 4) perhaps summed up the race yesterday with this:
“600kms ridden and a combined count of 20 falls, 4 days to go.”

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 6

Richard Dunwoody photo

At the close of Day 6, the leaders have ridden four Urtuu's in one day. All five of the front runners are within reach of the finish tomorrow. The question still remains who will get there first.

Tonight's leaders are Venetia Philips, Tatiana Mountbatten and Marcia Hefker-Miles. They are only ten kilometers in front of William Comiskey and Heidi Telstad, who are only ten kilometers ahead Courtney Kizer. With five Urtuus to go and six more vet checks, that's not a decisive lead for anyone.

In the back of the field, Chips Broughton has un-retired. He was out on Day 5 after a fall and retired on medical grounds. A good nights sleep later, he was much improved and requested a remount. After satisfying the Derby Medics, he was cleared to continue and tonight, he's made it to Urtuu 18. A rather impressive showing.

Today saw a retirement from Julie Stewart after a fall. She's on her way to UlaanBaatar for assessment for an injured hip. Also out the Derby is Australian rider Cochetta Crowley. She finished yesterday at U13, and with over half the course to go, declared herself defeated.

Follow @MongolDerbyLive on Twitter for live commentary on Day 7. The course opens at 7am UTC.

All the riders are being tracked live. Find out all the ways you can follow the race on the Live Tracking Dashboard.

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 5

Richard Dunwoody photo

At the close of Day 5, the front thirteen riders have solidified their lead. Clustered between U17 and U18, the Derby title could be claimed by any of them.

In Urtuu 18 tonight are the front pack: Venetia Philips, William Comiskey, Tatiana Mountbatten, Courtney Kizer, Heidi Telstad and Marcia Hefker-Miles. Of those, Courtney Kizer is currently carrying a 2 hour vet penalty. If the other five don't pick up any further penalties, she alone will be held at Urtuu 21.

Shortly behind them, camping on the steppe is Australian rider Shannon Nott. He began the day with Courtney Kizer and Marcia Hefker-Miles but was delayed when he lost his horse. He requested Derby assistance to retrieve it and rode on with the hour's penalty. He finished the day with an astounding 9 minute turnaround at Urtuu 19 before riding on. Clearly he's determined to catch up.

Bedding down at Urtuu 17 tonight, are the trailing pack of six: Camille Champagne Bargenquast, Alice Newling, David Redvers, Alexandra Hardham, Peter Molony and Marie Griffis. With the Urtuus only 40kms apart, if any of the leading thirteen riders pick up vet penalties from now onwards. It could push them out of the final top ten.

In the back of the field, Day 5 saw some retirements. Babs Ketelaar was retired on medical grounds after showing no improvement on yesterday. Chase Becker is also out. She had a tricky fifth day chasing after an escapee horse at Urtuu 11, but a troublesome ankle injury has worsened. Fahad Al Thani has retired. He's received two carry forwards, each have a 3 hour penalty meaning he's well out of the running for the Race Class. After a bruising fall today, he has decided to call time on his Derby at Urtuu 11.

Day 5 has proved to be exceptionally unlucky, as a further three riders are retiring on medical grounds. Household Cavalry team-member Tom Alden is out after a fall near Urtuu 11. He's been evacuated for assessment in hospital in Ulaanbataar. Adam Casey has retired at Urtuu 12. He endured three brutal falls yesterday and after a short ride today, he's also on his way to UB this evening for a thorough medical evaluation. Finally, Veteran jockey, Chips Broughton has also retired. 20kms after Urtuu 14 he suffered a crunching fall and sought shelter in a local house. He's been assessed by Derby medical teams and he's unfit to ride onwards.

Day 5 finished with a Race Hold at imposed at 6.45pm. Any riders who came into an Urtuu in the final 1 hour and 45 minutes were held there as medical teams were engaged and couldn't guarantee cover for the field. We expect to open the course again Tuesday at the usual time of 7am UTC.

All the riders are being tracked live. Find out all the ways you can follow the race on the Live Tracking Dashboard.

We'll be back on Tuesday 9th August with the best photo and updates from Day 6. Until then, here's the Day 5 Leaderboard and a reminder of the 2016 course.

Nationalities battle up the front....in the 2016 Mongol Derby

Richard Dunwoody photo

August 8 2016

The 2016 Mongol Derby, the world’s longest and toughest horse race, looks like being the closest yet as riders from all around the world are battling it out up front with just under 500 km to go! These include:

· William Comiskey, nicknamed ‘Dingo’, a cattle rancher from Australia

· UK ‘Riding for Rangers’ team Tatiana Mountbatten, a professional dressage rider and 499th in line to the throne, and her team mate, Kenyan based Venetia Phillips (picture attached and should be credited to Richard Dunwoody @ Mongol Derby)

· Heidi Telstad, a lawyer from Canada

· Marcia Hefker-Miles, a New Mexican cowgirl

· Shannon Nott, an Aussie bush doctor

· Courtney Kizer, a Texan showjumper

A few km’s only separate these riders – plus the rest of the field are also within striking distance.

Do follow the race via twitter https://twitter.com/mongolderbylive or if you use the + arrows on the tracker you can home in and hover your mouse over the blue dots so you can see exactly where the riders all are and how far they have travelled http://www.theadventurists.com/mongol-derby-live-dashboard/

Other race news includes:

· There have been six people retiring so far – including a dash to hospital, a dislocated shoulder (the rider Hanna Backstrom from Sweden has carried on!), and currently some suspected broken ribs

· David Redvers (UK) and Peter Molony (Ire) lead the Qatar racing team, which includes Sheikh Fahad al-Thani. Redvers said that “yesterday ranked as one of the ten best days of his life”

· The weather is also pretty dire on the steppe. Last night race chief Katy Willings said as the three leaders left the comfort of Horse Station 14:
"They've passed up some world class Khuushuur at U14 and a dry bed surrounded by racing medals to hang onto a 30 minute lead and sleep in a ditch. Plus U14-15 is the most beautiful ride. Perhaps the most stunning on the course except that it's hammering it down with rain, so they won't see much of it."

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 4

Richard Dunwoody photo

Day 4 is wrapped up, and in true Derby form, the leaderboard has changed.

Today's front runners are Shannon Nott, Courtney Kizer and Marcia Hefker Miles. The three are camping out in the steppe in the hope of holding onto their lead. They only made 10kms out of Urtuu 14 before the race closed, so have taken big gamble:

"They've passed up some world class Khuushuur at U14 and a dry bed surrounded by racing medals to hang onto a 30 minute lead and sleep in a ditch. Plus U14-15 is the most beautiful ride. Perhaps the most stunning on the course except that it's hammering it down with rain, so they won't see much of it." - Race Chief Katy.

Closely following them, four riders will be enjoying that U14 Khuushuur this evening: Heidi Telstad and William Comiskey, as well as Venetia Philips and Tatiana Mountbatten. Behind them, six riders are camping out after U13 meaning that there are only 40kms separating the leading pack. Only the first ten riders will be placed, so any penalties picked up in the leading pack from now on could have a big impact on the final standings.

The front of the field holds all the tension, but it's the back that has the tough stories. Today, it's the turn of Swede Hanna Backstrom to show her mettle. She fell onto her elbow yesterday afternoon and her arm worsened throughout the evening. Camping between U9 and U10, her condition deteriorated and fellow rider Tim Finley called for help on her behalf. Located on the steppe in the dark, Hanna was transported to U11 by the medics and her dislocated shoulder reset under a general anaesthetic. She slept on it, about 3 hours and woke up this morning asking to remount. Cleared by the medical team, she was taken back to U10 and tonight is has ridden into Urtuu 11 for another, hopefully longer, nights sleep. An incredible story.

Babs Ketelaar also received medical attention today. Dehydrated, on strong painkillers and showing signs of flagging, she was held on medical grounds at Urtuu 10 and driven to Urtuu 11 to stay with the trailing pack of riders. It's not yet certain if she'll be able to ride on Monday.

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 3

Laurence Squire photo

The fortunes of the leading pack have changed swiftly and the next 48 hours could decide the Race Class riders. The front six are overnighting in Urtuu 11. As the first of the two penalty Urtuus, all except rider Venetia Philips will be held there in the morning. Venetia will have to choose whether to sit out the penalty with friend Tatiana Mountbatten or ride on without her.

All the riders in the field will sit out their penalties accrued so far at Urtuu 11, meaning the first rider out the gate from there is the overall race leader.

Camping on the steppe tonight beyond Urtuu 10, Shannon Nott and William Comiskey are both riding penalty free and either might be able to overtake the leading pack through Urtuu 11.

Both chaps had trouble with their horses today. Shortly after leaving Urtuu 9, William's horse went lame, and he turned back, splitting with previous riding companion Heidi Telstad. This manoeuvre cost him several hours as he walked the horse back to the vets at Urtuu 9 and saddled up a different steed. Meanwhile Shannon Nott's horse started to thump and he called the vets out to him. Diagnosed and treated for an electrolyte imbalance, the horse will be fine. It might cause more of a lasting problem for Shannon's previous riding partner Alexandra Hardham who lost her GPS device, scuppering any chance for her to ride solo. "She's parasitic on the other riders now," says Race Chief Katy, "if she can't keep up, she's a sitting duck."

As the race progresses, many of the riders are beginning to show signs of deterioration. Bucking the trend, riders Courtney Kizer and Marcia Hefker-Miles are creeping up the order. Both hailing from the States, they are proving themselves extremely fit and not showing signs of tiring. Courtney has only 28 minutes of penalties and already at Urtuu 11, she's well placed to be at the head of the leaderboard for Day 4.

In the rest of the field, the race is going well. Babs Ketelaar rode a large part of Day 3 on her own and was treated to a kick in the face from her horse. She's got a split lip but is in good spirits and has the comfort of being reunited with friend Josefine Schopman at Urtuu 8 this evening.

Another rider seeing the bright side in an inauspicious situation is Swede Carin Ostergren. She lost her horse, and ran the distance into Urtuu 8 to seek assistance. After initial reluctance, it was recovered and Carin was "treated to a display of retina-burning lassoing from the Mongolian herdsman, so that penalty hour will seem well worth it" reckons Race Chief Katy. Retina-burning, on this occasion, is a positive.

Fellow Swede Sara Pickthall has retired from the race. Medically fine, she's bruised, saddle sore and has chosen not to continue. She'll cheer on friend Carin from the sidelines. Day 3 also saw another retirement from Madison Smith on medical grounds. She fell off her horse yesterday and returned to Ulaanbaatar for treatment. Tests have shown no cause for alarm but she'll not be returning to the Derby this year.

Finally, yesterday's Mongol Derby Digest referred to the leading 'four ladies'. A poor choice of collective noun since their number included Mr Shannon Nott. Sorry Shannon.

The riders are being tracked live. Find out all the ways you can follow the race on the Live Tracking Dashboard.

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 2

US rider Marcia Hefker-Miles repacks her backpack at Urtuu 5
Photo by Richard Dunwoody

Day 2 of the Mongol Derby 2016 is done and the leaderboard looks totally different.

The race saw its second retirement from UK rider and former professional jockey Kevin Darley, defeated on this occasion by bad knees.

At the front of the field, Venetia Philipps and Tatiana Mountbatten (Team Riding for Rangers) are camping out with fellow Brit Alexandra Hardham and Aussie Shannon Nott. With Alexandra and Tatiana carrying 2-hour penalties each, the 4 ladies will be faced with a choice at Urtuu 11; to wait together and risk losing their lead or separate and hope they can regroup later. Yesterday's front-runners William Comiskey and Heidi Telstad are still riding together but have slipped down the ranks, proving how quickly fortunes can change on the Steppe.

Across the rest of the field multiple riders are getting thrown off their horses. US rider Marie Griffis is choosing a series of outstanding horses from the line ups, and it's been paying off as she's made good progress up the ranks. Choosing live-wires has drawbacks and on the third roll of the day she sustained an injury. She finished the day at Urtuu 6 with a bit of a hobble, helped along by her current riding companions Rosie Bathurst and Alice Newling. With luck, the three of them might have a dryer nights sleep than last night. Attempting to camp in a goats pen, they were caught in a downpour before they were rescued by local herder family and treated to multiple samples of the local vodka to warm up. Tonight, they'll be sleeping with seventeen other riders at Urtuu 6. Space may be more of a issue than the weather this evening.

Sebastian Bridger also met the ground more often than planned today. He was bucked off three times between Urtuu 4 and 5 before accepting a carry forward from the race team which comes with a 3 hour race penalty. Of the five Household Cavalry team, only James Harbord and Urbain Tego Tagne are currently riding without penalties. They too will have to decide at Urtuu 11 whether to sit out the penalties as a team or to split into two factions forming a breakaway penalty-free group.

The riders are being tracked live. Find out all the ways you can follow the race on the Live Tracking Dashboard.

We'll be back on Saturday 6th August with the best photo and updates from Day 3. Until then, satisfy your Derby appetite with our Rolling News. A single post with all the Derby pictures and updates since the race began or read the explanation of the Derby penalty system.

2016 Mongol Derby: Day 1

Richard Dunwoody photo

The Mongol Derby is live. Forty-one riders made it to the start-camp and the Race has whittled their number to forty.

At the close of Day 1, the early race leaders are Heidi Telstad and William Comiskey. She's a lawyer from Canada, he's a cattle herder from Queensland. They are perhaps not the most obvious team in the group. It remains to be seen if they will still be riding together when dawn breaks.

August 4, 2016 Mongol Derby

At the close of day 1, we've got a record number of campers. Of the six riders who came first into Urtuu 3, five went out again to try in the hopes of getting a head start in the morning. Only Hanna Backstom decided to stay put: warm dry and catered for. She will likely get a better nights rest, but she'll be competing with the stragglers who joined her at U3 before the course closed. Meanwhile, the five riders who chose the open steppe will be camping in the rain. Will the risk pay off and, perhaps more pressingly, will their horses still be there? The morning saw the first retiree from Loden Burton.

From the front then, here's the Day 1 Leaderboard:
Between U3 and U4

Heidi Telstad
Will Comiskey
Venetia Philipps
Tatiana Mountbatten
Tim Finley

At or Near U3

Alexandra Hardham
Shannon Nott
Hanna Bäckström
Courtney Kizer
Kelly Hale
Fred Thorne
Anna De Jonquieres
Marcia Hefker-Miles
Adam Casey
Francisco Schnaas
Madison Smith

Between U2 and U3

Krista Donnelly
Peter Molony
David Redvers
Marie Griffis
Alice Newling
Rosie Bathurst
Charles Broughton
Sara Pickthall
Anthony Strange
Carin Ostergren
Gareth Jones
Camille Champagne Bargenquas
Pierce Buckingham
Kevin Darley
Josefine Schopman
Thomas Alden
Cochetta Crowley
Sebastian Bridger
Urbain Tego Tagne
James Harbord
Babs Ketelaar

Between U1 and U2

Mike Becker
Chase Becker
Julia Stewart


Loden Burton

How I Survived the Mongol Derby: The World’s Longest, Toughest Horse Race

Horsenetwork.com - Full Article

by Liz Brown
august 2 2016 Riding 28 semi-wild horses through 620 miles of Mongolian wilderness is no pony trek

The young teen with a feathered mustache shuffled over to me, his eyes slightly down cast as he tried to shove the lead rope in my hands. Reflexively, I sighed and waved him off. I’d already ridden more than 60 miles today and it was only 3 p.m. My grasp on reality—and good manners—had vanished many kilometers before, left somewhere out on the wide open steppe.

Mongolia. August, 2015. The sun was an angry burning orb in an endless blue sky, no clouds in sight to offer even a wisp of respite from the heat. Sweat ran in small rivers down my back and chest, drenching my long sleeved shirt intended to protect my skin from the vicious UV rays. The only thought I had was seeking shade in the nearby ger, where I could sip water and try to settle the dizziness and nausea that had been plaguing me since the early morning.

As I made a move toward the tent for a second time, the kid tugged at my sleeve and I felt his calloused hand close on top of mine. He said something to me, insistently in Mongolian, and jerked his head toward the horse at the end of the rope. I eyed his animal, a 13hh stocky flea bitten grey with a forelock that hid his eyes. The gelding didn’t look like much, especially after I’d just made good time on a lovely lithe chestnut athlete that was a mini version of the Thoroughbreds back home, but the boy looked excited at the prospect of me riding his pony and all I wanted was five minutes of peace. I raised a shaky hand and pointed to my saddle that had been tossed in some goat turds and gave the boy the thumbs up. He grinned and got to tacking the horse that would carry me over the next 25 miles of inhospitable Mongolian wilderness...

Read more here:

Mongol Derby underway for Red Lodge's Hale, Manhattan's Griffis

Billingsgazette.com - Full Article

JEFF WELSCH jwelsch@billingsgazette.com
Aug 4, 2016

Now, they know the route.

After nearly a year of planning and a combination of fear and excitement, Kelly Hale of Red Lodge and Marie Griffis of Manhattan began a 1,008-kilometer horse race across the Mongolian steppe on Thursday.

Dubbed "The World's Toughest Horse Race", the Derby started about 200 kilometers southwest of the capital of Ulaanbataar. The 40 riders have 10 days to reach the finish line at Khovsgel Lake, in a national park almost due north of the start.

The route was kept secret until just before the start for security reasons.

"I’m just really excited about being immersed in their culture and not just being a tourist — actually relying on the nomads to help me out and to navigate through their country," Griffis told The Gazette in June...

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Austinite heads to Mongolia to compete in world’s longest horse race

MyStatesman.com - Full Article

By Nancy Flores - American-Statesman Staff
Aug. 3, 2016

Austinite Courtney Kizer will race in the Mongol Derby, one of world’s toughest horse races, starting Aug. 4.

For Austin native Courtney Kizer, there’s nothing better than getting out into the middle of nowhere, whether that’s backcountry skiing in Colorado or driving across the nation. It’s what nourishes her spirit and feeds her adventurous soul.

“It’s such a state of calm once you’re away from all of the things that we build our lives around these days,” says Kizer, who runs her own architecture firm.

But starting Aug. 4, she’ll embark on an adventure like no other. Kizer, 29, heads to Mongolia to compete in what the “Guinness Book of World Records” named the longest horse race in the world.

For more than 600 miles, Mongol Derby competitors ride semi-wild horses through the unfamiliar Mongolian wilderness. According to the Adventurists, the U.K.-based company that organizes the race, the “exact course changes each year and is kept secret until shortly before the launch...”

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Cotswold rider flies to Mongolia to take part in brutal 1,000km challenge for charity

Wiltsglosstandard.co.uk - Full Article

A RIDER from the Cotswolds set off to take part in the toughest horse riding challenge in the world on Sunday.

by Callum Chaplin

Rosie Bathurst, 24, has travelled to Mongolia to take part in the 1,000km Mongol Derby, all in aid of a charity that supports vulnerable veterans.

The former Westonbirt School pupil will be riding semi-wild, unpredictable horses and has only five kilograms of luggage to live out of during the ten day challenge

The gruelling course recreates Genghis Khan's legendary empire-busting postal system, with riders racing for 10 days, changing horse every 40km, and living with herders or camping under the stars...

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Australia: Local takes on Mongol Derby

Northweststart.com.au - Full Article

Samantha Walton - @SamanthaWalton0

29 Jul 2016,

A MOUNT Isa woman is one of four Australians who will take on the longest and toughest horse race in the world.

Camille Champagne is the co-manager of Linda Downs station located 225-kilometres south west of Mount Isa and will travel overseas to compete in the Mongol Derby.

The derby is a 1000-kilometre course that recreates Chinggis Khaan's legendary empire-busting postal system. Riders change semi-wild horses every 40-kilometres, and live with herders and camp under the stars.

Riders are only allowed to carry a five-kilogram survival pack, eat local cuisine and complete the course on their own. Competitors will ride through different terrain and weather conditions adding to the complexity of the challenge.

Ms Champagne was one of the lucky few to be selected to attend the world competition and said she had been preparing for this type of competition for many years...

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Endurance horseback rider will face biggest challenge yet: 621-mile Mongol Derby

Santafenewmexican.com - Full Article

Posted: Saturday, July 23, 2016
By Staci Matlock
The New Mexican

RATON — After her first 26-mile endurance horseback ride, Marcia Hefker was so tired she fell asleep by the campfire. “Someone had to wake me up because the bottom of my tennis shoes were smoking,” she said on a recent early morning ride across a friend’s ranch. Now, 15 years later, riding 100 miles in a day isn’t unusual for her.

Hefker paused her gray Arabian horse Vegas, nicknamed Eddy, and gestured toward the mesas scattered around Raton, along with tumbled volcanic rock and grass-covered folds of land. “This is what draws me to endurance riding,” she said. “It is the perfect marriage between getting to take horses and seeing remote places all over the country and the world...”

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New Zealand: Race through Mongolia dream for Bay woman

Stuff.co.nz - Full Article

Last updated 09:35, July 22 2016

Over 100 hours on a horse with a diet of boiled mutton does not sound like many people's idea of a holiday.

But the 1000km Mongol Derby across the Mongolian steppe has been a dream for Hawke's Bay woman Krista Donnelly since she first heard about the race.

Next month the 25-year-old paediatric nurse will spend between seven and 10 days competing the solo challenge, along with 40 riders from different countries.

The event, which follows a trail set by Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan in the 13th century, involves riders navigating their way between horse stations spaced at 40km intervals guided by GPS trackers.

"The horses are vet checked when they come in and we get a new horse every 40km, " Donnelly said.

"We ride the horses Mongolians use to race, they are small and fast, I would be taller than one of them..."

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U.S. Veteran Takes On The Ultimate Riding Challenge: The Mongol Derby

Hereandnow.org - Listen in

July 25 2016

The world's longest and toughest horse race gets underway next week in Mongolia. The Mongol Derby spans more than 600 miles and takes about 10 days.

Among this year's riders is U.S. Air Force Capt. Tim Finley. He deployed to Iraq to command air strikes for nine month, and returned home last summer.

Here & Now's Meghna Chakrabarti speaks with him about finding the challenge — and affirmation — in meeting his goal.

Interview Highlights: Tim Finley

On what the Mongol Derby is:

“You ride 25 horses, each rider. There's 40 of us this year. The event is put on by a group called The Adventurists out of Britain, but you get on a horse, you ride for 25 miles. Then you hop off a location that's called an urtu. It's basically a farm, where they have a bunch of new houses lined up. You pick a new horse, ride it for another 25 miles. Rinse and repeat...”

Listen to the interview:

Former champion jockey swaps racecourses for wilderness


Horseandhound.co.uk - Full Article

Lucy Elder
15:02 - 19 July, 2016

Former champion jockey Kevin Darley is swapping racecourses for the wilds of Mongolia to take part in the world’s longest horse race, for charity.

Kevin, a professional jockey for three decades, is taking on the 2016 Mongol Derby in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund (IJF), H&H’s charity of the year.

During his career he rode 2,431 winners and was crowned champion Flat jockey in 2000.

He is hoping to raise £2,000 to buy a Dyno Concept 2 — a multi-purpose strength and training rehabilitation device — for the IJF’s Jack Berry House centre in Malton...

Read more at http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/kevin-darley-mongol-derby-574753#k2qeStDQU6FGMzwI.99

Air Force captain from Kansas to compete in 621-mile horse race in Mongolia

CJOnline.com - Full Article

Captain Tim Finley is riding in the Mongol Derby to raise awareness about the 22 veteran suicides that occur each day.

Posted: July 17, 2016

By Emma Fiander

Air Force captain Tim Finley, of Chapman, isn’t one to let life pass him by.

He also isn’t one for keeping quiet on issues that matter to him. Combine those traits and you get a man who is riding in the Mongol Derby to honor the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day.

On Aug. 4, Finley and approximately 40 others will start their race across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian steppe. They will ride semi-wild horses, face bandits or packs of wild dogs, and rely solely on what they can carry and the hospitality of rural Mongolians to see them through the 10-day course.

It is the world’s most grueling horse race...

Read more here:

Interview with Tim Finley, Mongol Derby participant

For 2 Montanans, unbroken horses and blow-torched marmot come with the territory in 'world's toughest' race

BillingsGazette.com - Full Article

By JEFF WELSCH jwelsch@billingsgazette.com
June 28 2016

They know Guinness calls it the longest and toughest equestrian race in the world – that they’ll be crossing the Mongolia steppe astride a series of unbroken horses while possibly or likely encountering dehydration from searing desert heat, hypothermia from penetrating mountain cold, roving packs of wild dogs, the snarling guard dogs of nomads, intense sleep deprivation, myriad diseases and, perhaps worst of all, dysentery from a local diet comprised of mutton, fermented mare's milk and – we swear this is true – blow-torched marmot.

Here’s what Kelly Hale of Red Lodge and Marie Griffis of Manhattan don’t know about the wild and woolly Mongol Derby, a 1,000-kilometer sprint in August that roughly follows in the hoof prints of an ancient Genghis Khan postal trail.

The route.

“I have two theories on this,” says Griffis, 42, a lifelong Montanan, dedicated horsewoman for just as long, and professional pastry chef. “One, they want to keep it a secret so nobody goes and scopes it out. And No. 2, for our safety.”

We hadn't mentioned the marauding bandits, lubricated by vodka and/or the mare's milk concoction called airag? They're in the Mongol Derby minefield, too.

So it won't be until on or around the Aug. 4 start near the capital Ulan Bator that Griffis and Hale learn, along with 42 other contestants from 13 countries, a remote route they’ll have 10 days to complete...

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Mongol Derby dream come true for ‘adventure junkie’

Langleytimes.com - Full Article

by Monique Tamminga - Langley Times
posted May 25, 2016

Racing 1,000 km through the Mongolian desert, riding wild horses in blazing heat — with a chance she’ll have to fight off packs of feral dogs — is everything Langley’s Heidi Telstad signed up for.

Lawyer by day and daredevil by night, 43-year-old Telstad is taking her love of extreme sports to the next level this August as the only Canadian accepted into the Mongol Derby.

“My family is used to me doing crazy things, often coming back with a broken hand, ribs, but I got some strange looks from my colleagues, some saying ‘I hope you make it back,’,” said the self-described “adventure junkie...”

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Entry Fee

The 2016 Derby costs £8495; for that you get:

The Horses

25-27 horses depending on the course design, plus 3 for training along with the 150 herders needed to get them where they should be when you need them, including the use of a custom built saddle designed to carry you 1000km.

The Support

A team of vets to care for your horses, a team of medics to care for you, should you need it and a race crew to ensure the race is run fairly and smoothly. Behind all this a massive cast of drivers & interpreters and the piles of technology, medicine and vehicles they need to do their jobs.

Pre-race Training

Three days of medical briefing, veterinary briefing, technical training, and riding practice, both on the steppe and in the classroom.

The Course

A 1000km mapped out course with 25 horse stations to feed you and provide you with shelter. A start line camp for training, a party and launch ceremony. A finish line for the dramatic conclusion and necessary back-slapping.

Tech & Expertise

Use of a tracking device so your followers back home and the race crew know where you are and an online blog where you can shout about what you are doing. Expertise from derby HQ and our endurance riding experts in the lead up to the Derby.


The 2016 Derby will run from 1st - 14th August

1st August: Classroom training Ulaanbaatar
2nd - 3rd August: training on the steppe
4th August: Start gun
14th August: Final race day
15th August: Return to Ulaan Baatar