Yesterday was Day 7 of the Mongol Derby. Here’s the latest update!
It’s Day 7 and the lead riders have now covered over 80 percent of the course, which to us mere mortals means they’ve ridden somewhere in the neighbourhood of 800 kilometers. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. The chasing pack, their accomplishments by no means any less significant, have covered over 700 kilometers. Are they still going strong? Absolutely. And the determination is still apparent in the many photos that come out over the day via our social media channels, showing the grins, grimaces and grit-your-teeth-and-get-it-done expressions on our brave riders’ faces. The point here is that no matter where positioned on the field, every rider who has come here to taste the Mongolian horse way of life has done something significant that will change who they are forever.
Not only have they covered immense distances, they’ve endured heat, cold, rain, wind, insects, dogs, bogs, lost horses, lost tack, lost tech, lost gear; but also experienced incredible hospitality, unforgettable kindnesses, and camaraderie that you only read about in those fantastic adventure stories. Yes, this is a fantastic adventure story, and our riders are out there absolutely kicking it.
It’s been hot and dry though, and the riders (and horses) definitely felt it today. Advice to drink lots of water was gratefully accepted, and the riders took advantage of today’s course along a nicely flowing creek to cool themselves and their horses. It’s the small things that you usually take for granted that make all the difference out here.
Judith JJA had a fun start to her morning today. She awoke bright and early as is the habit here on the steppe, getting ready to ride out at the crack of 7am at the opening of riding hours. However, her feisty white racehorse had other ideas. Spooked at the saddle, it legged it back to its home. Event manager Erik Cooper had a front row seat to all the action: “There was a white blur past our 4×4; my team tried to lasso it from the window seat but it was too fast even for our Nascar-level driver” he said.
Not to be put off by her lack of transportation, Judith slung her saddle and gear up on her shoulder and walked the 10km across bogs and grasslands to reach the next horse station. The horse, meanwhile, made it back home and was happily frolicking amongst its horseline mates before the rest of us were even contemplating our breakfast.
Umair UKA also fell victim to this morning’s horse antics. He was thrown from his horse but was none the worse for wear. Reports are that he sat up, flashed that trademark grin and dusted himself off while one of our Intrepid Medics Andy gave chase. The horse was recovered and Andy has now added part-time horse wrangler to his lengthy list of talents.
The Bloodwagon has been doing a cracking good business, scooping up riders who have perhaps had one fall too many, who aren’t grievously injured beyond the usual bumps and bruises, but who need a breather from the relentless pace of seven days of racing. The seats were nearly full today with Solana SPE, Sam SFL, Izzy IDS, Randy RCA, Olivia OGA, Elizabeth EBA and Hilaire HBL riding shotgun with our Bloodwagon captain Ariuka. While you might think hitching a ride in the Bloodwagon would be a disappointment for most, this crew has renamed the Bloodwagon “The Fun Wagon”. They have formed a tight-knit group and are now determined to ride the final leg across the finish line if at all possible.
Up at the front, lost horse notwithstanding, Judith has been chasing the lead laid down by Linda with no sign of letting up the pressure. At this point in the race anything can happen, and past races have been lost at the finish line due to penalties. Judith has been steadily closing the gap and we will continue to watch as they both lengthen their stride in the quest to be crowned Mongol Derby 2023 champion.
It’s good to remember (and how could we forget) that the horses themselves are the most important part of this race. Our 1500 horses are sourced from local families spread across the 1000km and every year we have a number of families return to be part of this epic event. L. Enkhbat at HS18 is one such family: they had some outstanding horses on the line this year including JDO Jessie’s mount (who was actually trained to rear on cue) and is used as the family’s resident lasso horse. LJO Lucy drew a seriously spirited red roan stallion who had just previously given some excitement to the station’s observers as it bucked and bronc-ed its way across the steppe. Not to worry though: Lucy has some serious riding skills and had no trouble showing him who was boss.
At the end of racing hours the field was still a tight one with what we’ve fondly name “The Horde” of approximately 19 riders overnighting at HS20, and the leaders only two horse stations ahead. Watch this space the next two days as its going to be a veritable race to the finish!
Day 7 Leaderboard
Between HS23 – HS24:
Between HS20 – HS21:
All photos and videos provided courtesy of The Mongol Derby.
To keep up to date with Equestrianists Mongol Derby, please visit equestrianists.com/mongol-