Its time again for the Mongolian Derby – the world’s longest horse race. This year 36 competitors, 12 men, 24 women from 9 countries will ride semi-wild Mongolian horses 1000km across the Mongolian steppe tracing Chinggis Khaan’s ancient postal route. Riders must balance survival skills and horsemanship, endure the elements and navigate unfamiliar terrain to reach the finish line.
Competitors meet for pre-race training this week. The race begins on the 9th and final riders are expected to finish by August 18. Riders travel to 160kms a day changing horses at 40km intervals.
This year’s race is especially thrilling for WARHorses because there are 9 incredible, amazing, inspiring “women of age” riding, lets meet them!
Tamara Beckstead 52 from 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 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.”
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”
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!
Marianne Logue Williams, 54 Tryon, NC, 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.”
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”.
Though she’s a only 35 (a future WARHorse) Leslie Wylie, Editor-in-Chief of HorseNation.com is also riding in this year’s race. As you may know WARHorses and HorseNation.com enjoy a content partnership and HorseNation supports WARHorses by providing our discussion board at Equestrians Anonymous. Leslie will be blogging about next week’s race and we will share her experiences on WARHorses. You will certainly enjoy reading Leslie’s blogs as she prepared for the derby.
So hoist up those steel britches for this year’s wild Mongolian Derby! WARHorses will post updates as the race gets underway August 9th. Good luck to all the competitors.
Photography Courtesy Richard Dunwoody @ Mongol Derby 2016
Press Release via The Adventurists Press Office
Sign up to race in the 2018 Mongolian Derby!