Friday, April 29, 2022

Journey to the Mongol Derby: The Longest and Toughest Horse Race in the World - Full Article

April 28, 2022

Part One: Mongolian Horses & Mongol Derby 101

In Fall 2018 and on the cusp of turning 30, I woke up one day with an intense desire and determination to participate in a race that I had long known about, but previously wanted nothing to do with. In December 2018, two months after submitting my application and completing my interview, I was accepted to participate in the 2020 Mongol Derby.

The Mongol Derby is a self-navigated, point-to-point endurance race based on Chinggis Khaan’s ancient Mongolian postal system from 1224. Using strong and resilient riders and horses, Khaan’s vast network of horse stations across his empire made it possible for important messages to travel around 2,500 miles in just a few days. In 2009, The Equestrianists, a group striving to change peoples’ perspectives and “make the world less boring”, recreated this postal system, and thus began the annual Mongol Derby.

Every Summer, a group of ~40 brave riders take on the challenge of a lifetime: riding 1,000 km (roughly 620 miles) across the Mongolian Steppe in 10-days, with stops every ~25 miles to check in and change horses. Riding time each day averages around 12 hours, with strict start and stop times to ensure rider and equine safety. The route (which changes every year), pace, and adventure in between these stops are up to the rider. Sounds fun! What’s the catch?...

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