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2017 Mongol Derby: the world's toughest race

Australian Olympian Ed Fernon wins world's toughest horse race

A young Australian Olympian has won the longest and toughest horse race in the world.

Twenty-nine-year-old Ed Fernon conquered the gruelling Mongolian Derby, crossing the finish line with South African Barry Armitage in equal first after a nail-biting race to the finish.

The 2017 race saw 12 men and 24 women from nine countries riding 1,000 kilometres across Mongolia on semi-wild horses.

Mostly riding full tilt, they charge through the rugged terrain of the Mongolian Steppes, forging rivers, deserts and wide open plains on a course that is designed to recreate Genghis Khan's ancient postal system.

It puts to the test the competitor's survival skills, horsemanship and sheer endurance.

Competitors change horses every 40 kilometres and camp out under the stars or stay with local herders.

Horses will often injure the participants if badly handled, and riders are also given penalties if they overwork the tough Mongolian ponies.

Fernon is a young man who cannot resist a challenge.

Although city born, he spent time on a family farm near Wagga Wagga in NSW where he first threw his leg over a horse.

His love of riding inspired him to take up the modern pentathlon, mastering the five disciplines of swimming, fencing, running, shooting and show jumping.

He started the sport as a 20-year-old and four years later represented Australia in the 2012 London Olympics.

Needing a new challenge post-Olympics, Fernon did a charity ride across the snowy mountains.

The ride retraced the 1,100 kilometre journey of Archer, the legendary horse that walked from NSW to Melbourne before winning the inaugural Melbourne Cup in 1861.

"Following the Legend of Archer" raised over $50,000 for The Black Dog Institute, offering support for people suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.

[Read full article at abc.net.au ...]

Sept 14 - Cornish farmer tackles 1,000km Mongolian horse race

Sept 4 - SA rider wins epic race

Aug 31 - South African Adventurer wins the world’s toughest Endurance Horse Race

Aug 28 - Barry Armitage wins world’s toughest horse race

Aug 23 - Former Olympian and Galong resident shatters equestrian record in 1020km epic

Aug 22 - Emma Manthorpe fulfills her Mongol Derby dream

Aug 20 - Local conquers Mongol Derby

Aug 18 - Australian Olympian wins the world’s longest and toughest horse race in record time

Aug 18 - Maine woman finishes the world’s longest horse race

Aug 17 - Stable Scoop 471 – Mongol Derby, “All the Wild Horses” and a Flowery System

Aug 17 - Poland rider finishes Mongol Derby, the world’s longest horse race

Aug 17 - Nelsonian Mongol Derby competitor finishes sixth

Aug 16 - Mongol Derby rider pulls out after bad fall

Aug 15 - Injured ankle and spousal devotion end couple's adventure

Aug 15 - Final Mongol Derby Special Report for August 15, 2017 with Ivo Marloh

Aug 14 - Mongol Derby Special Report for August 14, 2017 with Ivo Marloh

Aug 14 - Potato farmer ahead of Olympian in world’s toughest horse race

Aug 13 - Mongol Derby Special Report for August 13, 2017 with Devan Horn

Aug 8 - Madcap Escapade: Memories of the Mongol Derby

Mongol Derby Day 8

TheAdventurists.com - stories, photos and more

Day 8. August 16th, 2017
Underwater Love - Smoke City

Dumpling has been sent to the finish camp to sniff the fresh mutton air of the steppe and the stories it is still to yield from this year's Mongol Derby. As the finishers congregate at Khangal Nuur (Lake) in faraway Khentii province she'll be collecting the story-dust before it settles. And standing around on horses arses, as in the photo above. Updates posted by Chief Willings, in the office another day, by correspondence. Mainly pigeon.

Says Dumpling: "Bromance Will Comiskey and Warren Sutton rode into joint fourth place this morning. Upon passing the vet (immediately), Will stripped down and rode bareback into the lake, jumping off his horse's bum for the first "bath" he's had in a week. Overheard at the finish: Ed to Will: "Jakkie is a fucking legend. What a hero." Sportsmanship and camaraderie at its absolute finest."

"On JM's last night riding, he stayed with local family. Wanted to help the woman of the house churn butter, and found himself stuck w that chore... for 40 min. Very sore arm in addition to everything else upon finishing."

Mongol Derby Day 7

TheAdventurists.com - Stories, photos, videos, map

Day 7. August 15, 2017

The Boys are Back in Town - Katy Willings, Derby Chief
(Michelle Tanaka at finish camp to newshound from there)

We have a winner! Well, two actually, and three riders over the line nursing their newly minted Mongol Derby sores). For the first time since 2012 we have a male-dominated leaderboard. Ed Fernon of Australia and Barry Armitage of South Africa crossed the line together at 17:34, brother in arms after 7 days of fierce competition and grueling riding. Close in behind them at 19:01 was Jakkie Mellet, also of South Africa, who vied for the lead through much of the race.

So many scores were settled and loose ends tied up by this evening's result, and some extraordinary benchmarks set.

2017 brought the fastest ever finish; mid afternoon on the 7th day after a slightly tardy 11:11 start on Wednesday last week.

It was also the longest ever Derby; 1020km of incredibly open steppe, a veritable ocean of green, which after some much needed rainfall in the days prior to, and early in, the event, made for a spectacular arena.

Jakkie lost his lead this morning after an unfortunate "horse not great in traffic" incident, which meant he had to back-track to Urtuu 25 on foot and retrieve a more suitable mount. His original choice decked him when a car came past (doesn't happen all that often in Mongolia, to be fair) and fled back to the station, saddle round belly. In the bid for freedom JJ lost a stirrup leather, and the herders helped him fashion something out of rope to ride home on. Meanwhile Ed and Barry snuck past, gaining 20 kms. Amazingly he did catch up and get his nose in front again, but squandered the lead again having pushed too hard to retake it - his 27th horse didn't pass the vet check. So he sat a penalty as BA and EF cruised past again. Here's Hugh and Cozy, our multi-tasking vet/event manager team, towing referee Charles on their way to set up U26. Much better by horse Here's Hugh and Cozy, our multi-tasking vet/event manager team, towing referee Charles on their way to set up U26. Much better by horse Amazingly, this is Barry's 3rd Derby. He was first across the line in 2012 too, but subsequently lost the race on a vet penalty. Many a buttock was clenched watching him hone in on the finish. Ditto Ed, who has led or been thereabouts throughout the race, pushing hard for every racing minute and falling foul of the vets and refs a couple of times. That's how you end up an Olympic athlete, no doubt. In the event, they cruised most of the day riding skilfully within themselves, in hot and intense conditions, and unable to put any real distance between each other. In a great example of gentlemanly endeavor they elected to ride over the line together. If 1000 kms couldn't split them, so be it. No showboating, no risk taking, they just got their horses home and promptly took them into Khangal Lake, where we have created our finish camp, for a well-earned swim and cool down.

Don't Stop Me Now

Some highlights from further back in the field. Actually the highlights are more like low-lights, because most of the chasing pack, mid-field and rear guard just kept buggering on today. Some cracking 3 and 4-leg days from the likes of BW, RM, LT, PR, CL...they seem to have got into their rhythm of eat, sleep, ride,repeat. Shout outs to ST and CP who seem to have made camping between urtuus something of an art form too, another clockwork day's riding. MB who got off to a very slow start and got shuffled up the field in a car once he was some 60kms off the pace rode through four stations today. That's pretty much the Derby Gold Standard. Hats off.

Cry Me a River

Two items under this heading. Paul Richards riding upsides of our whizzkid mounted camerawoman Chloe - it was his wife's birthday, and this is the longest period they have spent apart in 36 years. Understandably, the tears started to flow, first Paul's, and then, Chloe's. Look out for some wobbly camerawork there.

Secondly, the Kherlen and Onon rivers flowing fast in the latter section of the course, and the volume of water in some of the low ground swallowed a few of our vehicles whole. 1 referee, 2 vets, one film crew and the Blood Wagon were all part digested by the flood plains of Khentii. At five separate intervals we had riders approaching urtuus with the vet team assigned to that urtuu digging out of a bog on their way to post. Some impressive day saving behind the scenes today.


19.55 JM has passed the vet check. confirming him as 3rd place finish. Congratulations to Mr Mellet.

17:55. Vet check passed. It's confirmed. Ladies and Gentlemen, we are proud and honoured to announce that Mr Barry Armitage from South Africa and Mr Ed Fernon from Australia are joint winners of the 2017 Mongol Derby. The world's longest and toughest horse race has new champions. Congratulations gentlemen.

And how did they celebrate their glory? By getting straight in the lake - with their horses.

Bloody good show.

17:34. Barry Armitage and Ed Fernon have crossed the line and completed the 2017 Mongol Derby. Awaiting vet check...

Mongol Derby Day 6

TheAdventurists.com - Stories, photos, videos, map

Day 6 Take It to the Limit - Michelle Tanaka

Leading man (once again) Jakkie Mellet checked into U25 at 20:31, sticking himself with a Late Riding Penalty, which will have to be sat out in real-time in the morning. Bad luck. Instead of riding out at 07:00, he’s going to have to sit chilly until 07:02.

With 17 minutes riding time to spare, Ed Fernon went blazing out of U24 in pursuit of Jakkie. Twelve minutes later, he returned to spend the night. Good choice, Ed—you’ll sleep much better in a warm dry ger, horse pre-grazed and pre-watered when you saddle up in the morning.

Spot of disappointment today: EF possibly trying to evade horse welfare rules. Race ref Maggie first issued official, assuredly stern warning for pattern of inconsiderate riding. EF continued, and earned himself two hours at Naughty Corner. Meanwhile MP spent six hours at U22, not freed until 45 minutes riding time remained.

With all recent talk about Naughty Listers and Naughty Corners, it’s time to recognize the handful of riders who have managed to avoid all penalties, vet or technical: Brooke Wharton, Lucy Taylor, Paul Richards, and Jodie Ward earning Best Decision-Making Awards. So far. They’ve got a couple days’ riding to go. Don’t let us down.

Darling of the Day: BW. She’s been riding solo—completely solo, with no one in range for dozens of miles. She’s not lonely, though, befriending the locals at every stop and earning invitations to stay longer and return. She’s also one of a handful of riders going completely penalty-free (so far).

Today’s Medical Tale: PG pestered JL for advice on how to treat chafing… in the testicular area. This must be PG’s first time riding long distances, otherwise he would know how not to squash the family jewels. Wonder what JL told him...

Update on increasingly-popular LW: she’s been using a sock stuffed with donated bits and pieces as a saddle bag (after losing all kit early on). No one is packing any extra kit in their 5kg allowance, so kudos to those donating to the less fortunate.

Retirements: GK, two cracked ribs. OW, torn ligament. They are both luxuriating in UB’s newest hotel, the swankiest of swanky Holiday Inns. That’s eight total retirements so far. We expect JM BA MP EF WC WS to finish tomorrow early afternoon, and while we’re reasonably sure of the order, a lot can happen quite quickly out there. Keep your eyes glued to the Twitter feed for the most up-to-date news.

17:30. Eerily quiet in the Ops Room this afternoon. Our version of twiddling thumbs is making shitloads of ginger-lemon cocktail syrup for the finish camp. To go with shitloads of vodka, of course. Official finish party won’t take place until August 19 back in UB, but we figured we’d start punishing livers before then, they’ve earned it. Not that this lot will need mixers by the time they’ve crossed the finish line. After riding 1,000 kilometres through the Mongol wilderness, they’ll no doubt be ready to pound it back straight.


Spot of disappointment: one of the leaders, EF, apparently trying to evade horse welfare rules. Race ref Maggie first issued official, assuredly stern warning for inconsiderate riding: galloping horses just short of stations, then loitering before coming in for the vet check. EF continued, and earned himself two hours at Naughty Corner. Meanwhile MP spent six hours at U22, not freed until 45 minutes riding time remained.

Darling of the Day: BW. She’s been riding solo—completely solo, with no one in range for dozens of miles. She’s not lonely, though, befriending the locals at every stop and earning invitations to stay longer and return. She’s also one of a handful of riders going completely penalty-free (so far).

Today’s Medical Tale: PG pestered JL for advice on how to treat chafing… in the testicular area. This must be PG’s first time riding long distances, otherwise he would know how not to squash the family jewels. Wonder what JL told him...

Update on increasingly-popular LW: she’s been using a sock stuffed with donated bits and pieces as a saddle bag (after losing all kit early on). No one is packing any extra kit in their 5kg allowance, so kudos to those donating to the less fortunate.

Retirements: GK, two cracked ribs. OW, torn ligament. They are both luxuriating in UB’s newest hotel, the swankiest of swanky Holiday Inns. That’s eight total retirements so far.

We expect JM BA MP EF WC WS to finish tomorrow, and while we’re reasonably sure of the order, a lot can happen quite quickly out there. Keep your eyes glued to the Twitter feed for the most up-to-date news.

17:30. Eerily quiet in the Ops Room this afternoon. Our version of twiddling thumbs is making shitloads of ginger-lemon cocktail syrup for the finish camp. To go with shitloads of vodka, of course. Official finish party won’t take place until August 19 back in UB, but we figured we’d start punishing livers before then, they’ve earned it. Not that this lot will need mixers by the time they’ve crossed the finish line. After riding 1,000 kilometres through the Mongol wilderness, they’ll no doubt be ready to pound it back straight.

Mongol Derby Day 5

TheAdventurists.com - Stories, photos, videos, map

1631. “Four seasons in a week, har har.” That’s Mongolian weather for you. Day 2 saw borderline hypothermia; snorkels and x-ray vision were highly recommended. Day 5: blazing sun. Mercury may not read sky-high, but when you’re kitted out riding for 13 hours, zero shade, it’s scorching. Hope no one’s chucked their sun cream. And that no one chucks their rain gear. Because likely more wet ahead (naturally), according to our course guru Darren. They’re about to cross into Jargaltkhan. Different province, different climate. Ready the machetes for hacking through the jungle.

13:20. That’s a big-ass spread halfway through Day 5. Gonna need a bigger board here at HQ (in case you’re wondering, we’ve got an LCD HD touchscreen with holograph messaging capabilities spanning an entire wall in the Ops Room. Jokes.)

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Mongol Derby Day 4

TheAdventurists.com - Stories, photos, videos, map

Day 4. I Can See Clearly Now, the Rain Is Gone - Michelle Tanaka Ops Room & 2015 joint 3rd place

Riders finally got a dry(ish) day, making for much-improved spirits and quicker riding. HQ admittedly had a bit of head-scratching and abacus-consulting to do over where to send which crews when. (We figured it out. We always do.)

Penalty Urtuu U11 saw a buttload of action today. Having Naughty Listers serve time in the Naughty Corner meant far fewer penalties (or riders are cottoning onto when to stop flogging it). No penalties earned past U11, so intervals between riders are accurate. With one important exception: Marie Palzer, our front running woman, was slapped with a heart rate penalty at U16, no doubt for hoofing it too hard to catch the boys before riding cutoff. She won’t have to serve that until U22, though.

A couple riders had full-on spa days at the Penalty Urtuu. If U11 was a spa, that is. (It could be argued that sitting on one’s arse for a few hours is a luxury after a few days trying to keep it in the saddle.)

Leaders remain the same. Ed Fernon and Marie caught up with Jakkie Mellet at U16 this evening, just in time. Barry Armitage is camping out alone half a leg behind them, narrowing their lead.

Notably, Marie is the only female in the fastest five riders, anomalous in the Derby. Let’s see if the gents can continue to dominate the top for the second half of the race.

Broadly speaking, the ‘Racing’ class of riders has pulled away from the ‘Adventure’ class, with the back third of the field congealing into the (probably now very stinky) Penalty Urtuu. Some can ride off first thing in the morning, while others will get a bit of a lie-in for their sins. Blessing in disguise, we’d say.

No equine tantrums at the railway underpass outside of U13. Yet. Recall pre-race training titters when riders were briefed on it. Half the field will negotiate it tomorrow—and this is the more troublesome half of the field. Fingers also crossed no one accidentally wanders into the mining zone and falls into a pit or flattened by haul truck out there. We’re not sure everyone knows the road sign for “Do Not Enter.” Or reads Cyrillic, for that matter.

Retirees Jane Boxhall and Julia Fisher left UB this morning to join Hustler Erik in the Bloodwagon. Unfortunately, Clare Salmon retired this morning with an injured ankle; her husband Neil Goldie-Scot is accompanying her.

16:27. Christ, we are seeing some speedy changeovers today. It's not just the frontrunners trying to blaze through the stations, mid-pack are picking it up as well. Must be the Naughty Corner, Penalty Urtuu U11 that's motivating everyone. Reckon some riders have spent enough time on their arses in a ger today to suit them for the next few days. Time to leg it.

12:35. Two retirements first thing at U7 this morning, married couple CS and NG. All campers' horses stayed put on their hillsides last night, riders unmolested (here’s CW hobbling brilliantly in the dark). Weather much improved, smashing start to the day, but those at the top of the Naughty List will be having a good long think at the first Penalty Urtuu, U11. Doubtful anyone’s been able to sneak a paperback into their 5kgs of gear. That just leaves gnawing mutton fat and watching better-behaved competitors sail through. Meanwhile JM holding lead, EF MP split up, distances among them widening...

Derbying at its absolute finest. Footage of Leslie Wylie (35, USA) riding stirrupless yesterday. For 40km. On half-wild horse. Bad. Ass.

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Mongol Derby Day 3

TheAdventurists.com - Stories, photos, videos, map

Day 3. August 11, 2017.

12:15. No dramas this morning rider-side, though a film crew vehicle needed rescuing from a bog. Its rescuer then in turn required rescuing (standard). Horses fresh and seemingly behaving—or maybe Derbyists have learnt to clamp on a bit tighter. The pack of 20 that camped together at U5 is gradually spreading out; Day 3 usually sees the field widen and the ‘Racing’ group pull away from the ‘Adventure’ group. Start arguing amongst yourselves on who belongs in which category (then watch them muck up all predictions by end of day).

15:30. Bit more action this afternoon. Star riders from yesterday LW and RP each lost horse during kit adjustment but soldiering on, LW sans gear—including stirrups. RP lost bridle, bought new one off a herder. Resourceful. Frontrunners EF and MP have their first penalties, elevated heart rates. They’ll serve time at next stop, U11. Not likely enough time for anyone to overtake, though BA a leg away with a spotless record. Above, AK with her U6 pick while GK advises “You better stay on this one!”

18:15. Balls. We’ve jinxed BA, looks like, as he’ll now have two hours at the Penalty Urtuu for elevated heart rate. EF and MP will be long gone, as they’re nearly halfway through their sentence at U11 now and likely hold the lead this evening (barring mutant racehorses. Not unheard of in this country). Further back in the field, it looks like another ger cuddle puddle could be in order for the evening, with 17 riders thundering along in vicinity of each other. Keep those vets on their toes, lads.

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Mongol Derby Day 2

TheAdventurists.com - Stories, photos, videos, map

Day 2. August 10, 2017.

Day 2 Roundup - Michelle Tanaka (2015 joint 3rd place rider)

Riders got straight into it with icy cold hurricane-like conditions first thing this morning. As crew vehicles trundled through the muck, horses once again proved themselves to be the fastest means to cross the steppe. Provided riders stay on, that is.

...Which a handful of Derbyists had some trouble managing. This morning JC unbridled her horse as she came off. Fellow riders plus five crew members couldn’t catch him (turns out he was waiting for a motorcycle rescue, diva). HS required a carry-forward after her stallion made off into the storm. AK’s horse bolted during a saddle adjustment, outrunning two herders on their fastest steeds. Eventually he lost enough steam to be caught outside a soum, 15 kilometers away.

Frontrunners EF and MP held their lead throughout the day (wearing warm layers and properly-fitted tack, no doubt). Only three riders are caught between urtuus tonight; we’ll see how RHW, WC, and JW do in the morning without the warmth of a ger.

Urtuu 5 is hosting a record 20 riders tonight. The Naughty List grows longer as riders prefer the three-hour late riding penalty to another night out on the steppe - see details on the Leaderboard.

More at:

Mongol Derby Day 1

TheAdventurists.com - Stories, videos, map

August 8 2017

Carnage mounting. Hellacious weather. Cold, wet, suffering riders - mainly those camping out last night (paying off for some, but mostly not for others). Weather causing horses to run for the hills, mounted or not. Bend down to adjust your jacket--horse gone. Reigning champ WC even called for help just short of U3. Vets looking after both two- and four-legged animals. First retirement: JF (Julia Fisher). Looks like fractured ribs, on her way back to UB, understandably devastated. EF and MP pushing hard at the front, maintaining high speeds and breezing through urtuus. Will it pay off, or will they be hypothermic by day's end? Even Unenburen, our head horseman, advised riders not to ride out of U3 this morning due to poor visibility. Not so much a race hold as a plea to hold off until the hurricane subsides. If anyone doubted this is indeed the world's toughest horse race, here you go. No apologies from Mother Mongolia today.

The 2017 Derby launched today at 11:10 (local time) 41 brave riders from across the globe battling for the Derby crown. In 1000km and less than 10 days one rider will have their name etched in the history books, but many more will fall along the way.

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Horses in the Morning: Mongol Derby Special Report for August 9, 2017 with Devan Horn

HorseInTheMorning.com - Listen in

Aug 9, 2017

Two time Mongol Derby Alumni Devan Horn joins Glenn for a special 8pm Facebook Live wrap up of Day One of the Mongol Derby. And our own Leslie leads after Day 1! Listen in...


Mongol Derby 2017 Beginnings

TheAdventurists.com - Full Article

August 8, 2017 Mongol Derby

The Mongol Derby doesn't do things by half. It's known as the toughest horse race on our fine planet for very good reasons. Victory, or indeed abject hardship could be within reach for any of the riders.

Before we detail those to watch, let's have a little report of yesterday's goings on from our team on the ground. Over to adventure Chief Miss Katy:

"The riders have finally got their feet on the steppe and enjoyed the steep learning curve of the first test ride. New saddles and bridles, huge new horizons and a whole new species to contend with - the mighty Mongolian horse. Yesterday (Sunday) riders were briefed on essential protocols such as using their satellite trackers, and the all-important urtuu changeovers - procedures and etiquette. All weighed out successfully at 85kgs dressed or less, and most even got to enjoy a cupcake before they tackled the scales. A few of the bigger guys have lost several kilos to do this and should be congratulated. The next few kilos will come off much more easily in the coming weeks.

Riders have seen the whites of each other's eyes; some asked detailed and clearly competitive questions of the referee teams, keen to understand every possible lever and advantage available to them during the race. Others had questions about safety, what happens when it all goes tits up and what the food is like. Needless to say, the food will be...different to what they might usually feast upon. Others were eerily quiet and are therefore hard to categorise. We have another two days pre-launch to see who is in it to win it and who are already praying to the gods to get them home safely

Folks are (as usual) bricking it about the navigation. Our course briefing and beautifully rendered maps, created by Daren Parr, seemed to settle most down. At every urtuu there will be a stack of maps for the next leg, with a simple key of terrain, ascent/descent, and key obstacles. All laughed nervously at the prospect of the railway crossing at Bayan around half way - get a Mongolian horse through a railway underpass? Really? Yes, really. Also most laughed when he said, "you're going to cross two roads". In 1020kms...

Read more here:

The Mongol Derby 2017: Meet the Riders

TheAdventurists.com - Full Article


August 8, 2017 Mongol Derby The world’s longest and hardest horse race should not be taken at all lightly. As well as the odd bone here and there it has broken many a heroic soul. Starting this Wednesday, forty-three tenacious and toe-curlingly brave riders prepare their bodies and minds for the upcoming onslaught. Many of them will not make it to the finish line, though you can be sure they’re going to give it every damn iota of effort they have within themselves.

Ladies and gentlemen, in their own words, it is our honour to present to you the marvellous Mongol Derby entrants for 2017...

See them all here:

2017 Mongol Derby Entrants


William Comiskey, 28, Long Reach, Australia
Grew up on a cattle station in Queensland where he learnt to ride competing in rodeo, show-jumping and eventing. Now runs cattle. Was a joint winner of the race in 2016 and is back to try and win it on his own. Now that’s keen….

Greg Chant, 43, North East Victoria, Australia
Has only been riding since mid-2010, mainly Arabians – has always wanted to ride for as long as he can remember. Is doing the Derby for the physical and mental challenge but mainly because he “wants to go for a long ride and not have to open any gates or jump any fences.” Little does he know how many times he may have to pick himself up off the floor!

Ed Fernon, 29, Sydney, Australia
Ed’s aim is to excel at life’s adventure and what better way than taking on the Derby. Ed competed for Australia at the 2012 London Olympic Games in Modern Pentathlon, has summited Aconcagua, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere, and has previously ridden 1000km when he rode from Braidwood, NSW to Melbourne over the Snowy Mountains, following the legend of the first Melbourne Cup winner, Archer.

Jodie Ward, 30, Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia
After submitting an application one casual afternoon thinking she would never make the cut, Katherine-lady, Jodie Ward is now well and truly in preparation to be a competitor in the internationally acclaimed 2017 Mongol Derby. “I’ve set myself what I would consider to be a pretty rigorous training schedule, but so far, I’m enjoying it. Hopefully it will all be enough to put me in good chance of placing near the top come race time.” Jodie is raising money for the Leukemia Foundation.

Rebecca Hewitt, 36, Moura, QLD, Australia
Grew up in rural Queensland riding before she could walk. Now operates a cattle enterprise with her husband. Enjoys a challenge and “what better way to do it than with the Derby and everything it has to offer.”

James Lester, 21, Perth, Australia
Started riding horses just north of Perth from the age of six and is now a professional polo player. When “grows up” aspires to become a Seahorse trainer. Is competing in the Derby “to experience Mongolia’s unique culture and challenge my physical and mental boundaries.”

Emma Manthorpe, 30, Port Lincoln, South Australia
Emma grew up on a farm where her dad bred and worked racehorses. She began riding at a very young age and soon progressed to helping. She now works with horses as a veterinary nurse. She is having a mild ‘turning 30 not quite midlife crisis’, so is out to achieve something of significance.

Warren Sutton, 45, Ocean Grove, Victoria, Australia
Loves to educate young horses of all breeds from first rides into first competitions and races. Plays around in the film industry, is having a great time working on many projects in SE ASIA and at home. With many big adventures succeeded on foot “now is the time to do it on horseback into the Mongolian Derby of 2017!”

Lucy Taylor, 21, Coonamble, NSW, Australia
Grew up on a cattle property in North Western NSW and was on the back of a horse at a very early age. Now works as an international polo groom travelling from country to country following summer and working with some of the most amazing horses. Is doing the Derby because she thinks “it will be an incredible adventure as well as invaluable learning experience.”


Olivia Wood, 24, Canada – living in Buffalo, NY
A thrill seeker, she started off with hunter ponies but found her need for speed early as she transitioned into jumpers, western gaming and then into on and off-track thoroughbreds. Is doing the Derby “for the mental and physical challenge and to keep her mother on her toes!”

Tamara Beckstead, 52, Rockwood, Ontario, Canada
A small animal vet who feels most alive atop a horse. Eventing has earned her the name “Teflon Girl” by her coach. Hunting satisfies her need for speed; Dressage, her desire for beauty and perfection; and Side Saddle got her and her horse, Modesty, onto a movie set. She looks forward to the Derby providing an escape from her current reality and was inspired to take this adventure by the Doris Day song “Enjoy Yourself” (look it up and sing along!)


Annette Kriller, 51, Slussfors, Sweden (German)
German veterinarian with her own practice for small animals and (some) horses in Lapland/Northern Sweden. Loves activities that she can do as a team with animals such as sled dogs (she owns 40 and enjoys to train and travel with them but is mostly passionate about taking care of them as a veterinarian) and horses. Likes speed and would have loved to become an amateur jockey. Also, always had the dream to once do a long trip with horses. “The Mongol Derby seems to combine all of this.”


Christine Sarah Arndt, 38, Búðardalur, Iceland (German)
Grew up in a small town near Stuttgart, Germany, and spent most of her after school hours riding and taking care of all kinds of horses. Moved to Iceland at the age of 19 and lives now on a sheep farm with her husband and two children. “The Derby is the perfect kick in the butt to get in shape and there is no better way to discover beautiful landscapes than from the back of a horse.”


Jennifer Cook, 31, Rotarua, NZ
Southern born and bred kiwi girl who currently resides in Rotorua. Jen grew up riding horses, beginning as a volunteer with her mum at the RDA, then eventually going to pony club, showing, eventing and games. For the last 10 years, she has worked in tourism and outdoor education, loves to travel and explore and has a passion for photography. Wants to do this race because not only is Mongolia an incredible country, but she loves a challenge and having a cause like Cool Earth benefitting from this experience makes it worth every minute.

Marie Palzer, 22, Marahau, New Zealand.
Horse riding provides Marie with a sense of freedom and empowerment. She entered the Mongol Derby as she is completely addicted to adventure and pushing herself to her limits. She taught herself to ride at a young age, now she classifies as a long-distance rider having spent 102 days travelling solo on horseback. She trains green horses, works at a horse trekking company, competes in trail rides, gives riding lessons and alongside all that Marie is a Waldorf Steiner teacher. “I think it’s wonderful to take what you love and turn it into a gift that makes the world a better place”.


Mark Bauwens, 61, London, UK
The oldest, fattest and least funny competitor! Raising funds for Combat Stress. He learnt to ride and speak Spanish on his parent’s sofa watching westerns. Useless at school, especially geography. This is a dream come true for him. He hopes to find many cantinas along the way and maybe the odd bank to put into practice what he has learnt IF he can stay off the beer, crisps and chocolate on that sofa as he continues his education…

Neil Goldie-Scot, 56, Sussex, UK
First engaged with horses as a 10-year-old when assisted his brother on one of the very first Riding for the Disabled groups in the UK. After a forty-year gap, rediscovered horses when recklessly decided to take up polo! His wife (Clare Salmon), who is also in the Derby, assured him that “twelve falls make a rider” and he naively believed her. Many multiple number of falls later, he heads to Mongolia and shall be raising money for the RDA, of which he is now honorary treasurer.

Cy Lloyd Jones, 41, Dorset, UK
Cy is a former Tank Commander in the British Army turned investment banker. Avid horse rider, sailor and frustrated Polo player, Cy is riding in the Derby both for the personal test and the unique equestrian experience. “I need challenges like these to keep life in perspective. What better way to test yourself than through a tough endurance race that immerses you in a unique culture and takes you to Mongolia, arguably the spiritual home of equestrianism. I can’t think of any place or event that will allow you to build up such an exclusive and natural partnership with a horse, I hope that this experience will be riding in its purest form.”

Rebecca Pumphrey, 30, Bucks, UK
Rebecca, better known as Pixie, grew up in Buckinghamshire. She works in London at a busy Talent Agency, looking after actors and trying to cram in the training where she can. Ridden forever, mostly Arabs, which are her breed of choice. Turning 30 she felt that perhaps she wasn’t embracing life so chose the most extreme challenge she could find in the most inspirational place. She is feeling “enlivened and terrified by the challenge ahead.”

Ceri Putman, 30, Lusaka, Zambia
A British female entrepreneur who fell in love with Africa, Ceri started her riding career in pony club, then competing in show-jumping in the UK. Later taking up polo at the University of St Andrews, she has since been actively involved in equestrian sport in Zambia. She now focuses on producing young horses and re-schooling ex racehorses for all disciplines. From a young rider, Ceri has taken a classical approach in training horses, but is often sought to take on ‘problem horses’. She hopes that this, alongside adventure experiences in Zambia and further afield, combined with ‘hands-on’ farrier/vet care, will help her competitive edge in the Derby.

Paul Richards, 59, Cornwall, UK
Fourth generation Cornish Dairy farmer who took to riding & hunting in later years. Has a passion to experience an adventure that will connect him with the spiritual wilderness of Mongolia. He is ready & willing to “go the extra mile” to raise money for his chosen charity, Children’s Hospice South West – “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle” (Winston Churchill)

Clare Salmon, 53, Sussex, UK
Lives with 22 horses, 25 wallabies, 7 rheas, 5 Alsatians, 3 Bengal cats, an African python and her husband, Neil who is also doing the Derby. Runs the British Equestrian Federation. Also has a polo team and does a bit of horse-racing. Before horses, raced as a cyclist for seven years. Wants to do the Derby “because the challenge of going from the shortest and most glamorous horse-race on Ladies Day at Glorious Goodwood, to the longest and most unhygienic one in Mongolia the next day, is pretty irresistible.”

Sally Toye, 54, Fareham, UK
Has always loved and lived for travel, adventure and endurance (on and off the ponies) as these challenges have taught her so much about life (the good and the bad) and how she perceives the world. “We are only here for a brief of moment, let’s really live life.” Has had the Mongol Derby in her sights for some years. Having successful completed the Tevis four times in the last 20 years. “I am excited to think of what I can achieve and learn from this new adventure. How much will we all learn? How much will we change?”

Victoria Twelves, 44, London, UK
Grew up in South Africa loving horses from a distance. Wished she had been born into a farm life, but the reality is that she’s done more proper riding in the last six months training for the Derby than in her whole life. She found out about the Derby when looking for a fundraising challenge for the War Child charity; “If those children of war can deal with such hardships as they have, I thought I should be able to find some bravery and courage also and contribute to the worthy cause”


Pierre Germain, 21, Owings Mills, Maryland, USA
Born in Paris and moved to the U.S.at the age of eight. Started riding at three years old. When he was 19, worked for a summer as a wrangler at a dude ranch taking care of 130 horses and entertaining guests daily. Family bought a farm last summer and he works there and rides every day when back home. Has a passion for all things nature and conservation. Looks forward to meeting the many people of the Derby and “feeling the winds of the steppe on my face as I race from ger to ger.”

Julia Fisher, 65, Hartsville, SC, USA
A psycholinguist raised on concrete, asphalt, and steel, she moved to the land of pine forests, and took her first riding lesson eight years ago. She teaches experimental psychology, when she’s not competing in 50-mile endurance races on her first and only horse. She’s been riding the Derby in her sleep for the past three years – it’s time to make it real!

Amanda Charlton Herbert, 25, Maine, USA
Amanda is a lifelong horsewoman and equine artist with a passion for nature preservation. She has worked with horses in the jumping and dressage rings as well as on the cattle ranch and considers them to be the best life coaches out there – regardless of the discipline. Amanda is competing in the Derby to raise awareness and funds for Cool Earth and the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

Rick Helson, 58, Green River, Wyoming, USA
Rick met his first horse at age 52 and has been trying to stay on ever since. He is really excited about the Derby because “it will be a monumental adventure, and because the horses are small so it’s not as far to fall”. If only he knew….

Rachel Land, 38, Easley, SC, USA (will ride with Clare Summers)
Rachel is so much more than a horse enthusiast, she is a “life enthusiast”! A wife, a mother of four young boys, co-founder of Strong & Crazy, an equestrian performer, ostrich jockey, and endurance rider are a few of the adventures that have shaped her. Racing in the Mongol Derby is the next step in the pursuit of a full life and always wanting to dream big.

Marianne Logue Williams, 54 Tryon, North Carolina, USA
First took her baby dolls aboard a raft (in her room) at the age of seven and explored the Amazon while single-handedly fighting off piranhas, pirates, and mutineering baby dolls. Moved out of her room and in to spearfishing in Florida, diving for urchins in the ice-cold winter waters of Maine, and home-schooling her two sons aboard a 55 foot sailboat while exploring Cuba, Venezuela, Panama… Riding the Mongol Derby (her first horse was a wild mustang) is a natural expression of Marianne’s quest “to not go gentle in to that good night” but to slide sideways in to her grave -laughing like hell – while clutching one last cold beer in her weather worn hand.

Clare Summers, 59, Pendleton, SC, USA
Didn’t get her first horse until the age of 34, but had the passion in-utero. Is an endurance rider in the southeast United States, but has ridden all over the country and done over 10,000 competitive miles. “In my ongoing battle with aging, the Mongol Derby allows me to test my physical and mental endurance in addition to experiencing a new culture, making new friends from around the world, and riding 26 incredible ponies.”

Leslie Wylie, 35, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Three-day eventer, pony whisperer, desperate housewife, equestrian journalist for the websites Eventing Nation and Horse Nation, and podcaster for Horse Radio Network. Hobbies include box wine and being in over her head. Why she’s doing it: “Girls just wanna have fun! Oh and saving the rainforest.”


Jakkie Mellet, 40, Lydenburg, South Africa
City kid turned seed potato farmer. Whilst growing up in Johannesburg, the time Jakkie spent visiting the farm was always magical, “because that was the time spent riding and being wild outside”. 12 years ago, he moved to the farm, at that stage more for the sake of the horses than potatoes…. Doing the Derby “to prove to his kids their dad is no sissy boy and to push the mental limit of life as we know it”.


Suzanna Holmqvist, 29, Lima, Sweden (currently lives in Perth, Australia)
Private investigator who has a thing for crazy adventures. Grew up in Sweden but has lived and worked in Australia for many years and been riding since early childhood. Most recent adventure was to ride her fjord horse 2,500kms through Sweden during 100 days so should be able to last ten days on the Mongolian steppe...

8/7/17: From Magnolia to Mongolia: Goodwood rider Salmon set for Mongol Derby

8/7/17: Mainer to Participate in 620-Mile Horse Race Across Mongolia

8/7/17: Poland Woman One of 8 Taking Part in 620 Mile Race

8/5/17: Canada: Olivia Wood gives new meaning to a whim

8/3/17: Marahau, NZ kindergarten teacher ready for Mongol Derby adventure

8/1/17: Mongol Derby awaits Canadian

7/28/17: 2 Upstate NY women to compete in world’s longest horse race

7/26/17: Herbert races in the Mongol Derby

7/25/17: Coker professor getting ready for 1,000-kilometer horse race in Mongolia

7/22/17: Darwin woman to ride 1,000km in the world's toughest horse race

7/11/17: Cornish farmer prepares for ride of a lifetime

7/10/17: From Goodwood to Mongolia: BEF chief takes on extreme races days apart

7/8/17: The Mongol Derby: A Ride of a Lifetime

7/2/17: Rotorua NZ woman to take in a 1000km horse race in Mongolia

5/29/17: Port Lincoln Australia woman entering Mongol Derby

5/24/17: Birregurra Australia rider Warren Sutton saddling up

5/17/17: USA's Wylie vs. the Mongol Derby: What If?

4/13/17: Marahau NZ kindergarten teacher to take on 1000km wild Mongol Derby adventure

Two Canadians to Contest 2017 Mongol Derby

Horse-canada.com - Full Article

March 23, 2017
by: Mongol Derby

Two Canadians will line up in a field 40-strong for the 2017 Mongol Derby, featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest and toughest horse race – across 1,000km of Mongolian steppe. Last year the race was jointly won by Heidi Teldstad, a lawyer from Langley, British Columbia.

The two 2017 riders are: Olivia Wood, 24, a Canadian living in Buffalo, NY and Tamara Beckstead, 52, from Rockwood, Ontario.

This is the 9th Mongol Derby, featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest and toughest horse race. The 2017 race features 12 men and 23 women from nine countries riding 1,000km across Mongolia on semi-wild horses.

William Comiskey was one of the joint winners in 2016.

5 Spots Left for the 2017 Mongol Derby


The Mongol Derby is the longest and toughest horse race in the world.

The 1000km course recreates Chinggis Khaan's legendary empire-busting postal system. Riders change horses every 40km and stay with the local herders or camp under the stars.

Every year 40 professional, semi-professional and enthusiastic amateur riders compete for the derby crown.

To stand a chance of finishing riders must balance survival skills and horsemanship. They must endure the elements, semi-wild horses as well as unfamiliar food and terrain.

Completing the World's longest horse race is an achievement few can boast.

There are five spots left on the 2017 Mongol Derby. If you think you have the mettle to take on the toughest horse race on the planet, apply now.

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