The Mongol Derby is an equestrian endurance race. The race extends 1000 km through the Mongolian Steppe and is known as the world's longest horse race. The course recreates the horse messenger system developed by Ghengis Khan in 1224. In the 2016 race, there will be 21 men and 23 women playing the role of the messengers, and representing 13 countries. The exact course changes every year, and is kept secret until shortly before the race begins. The terrain will invariably include mountain passes, green open valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetland and floodplains, sandy semi-arid dunes, rolling hills, dry riverbeds and of course open steppe. The entry fee is $13,000, and provides the rider access to 30 Mongolian horses, a support team, pre-race training, and access to the support stations along the way. Riders must change horses every 36 km at the support stations. Along the way are vet checks to monitor the condition of the horses, and the vets may impose time penalties if the riders push their horses too hard along the trail. To gain entry as a competitor, each rider must demonstrate that their riding skills are strong enough to endure the harsh terrain of the race. The horses themselves are semi-wild, and may not cooperate with the rider, adding one more level of difficulty to the race. Riders will spend thirteen to fourteen hours a day in the saddle, and the race lasts ten days. To complete the race is an accomplishment in and of itself, as only half the racers usually finish the race in any given year.
The first Mongol Derby took place in 2009 and has continued annually since then. It is a multi-horse race, modelled after the postal route established by Genghis Khan in 1224. It was the world's first long distance postal system, based on a network of horse stations. The Mongol Derby similarly incorporates 25 horse stations and rest stops along a length of 1000 km (621 miles) through the Mongolian Steppe. Along the course of the race, riders have the option to stay with local nomads or camp out. In 2010, the Mongol Derby achieved the Guinness World Record title of longest multi-horse race.
In addition to enduring the distance of the trek, some challenges faced by the participants include, a high probability of injury associated with riding 25 different unfamiliar and "semi-wild" Mongol horses, travelling through remote and unmarked territory in a variety of landscapes, exposure to harsh elements, physical discomfort and exhaustion, and rules of the race, such as restricted riding hours allowed each day.
In 2016 the Mongol Derby was won in a tie by three people, William Comiskey aka Dingo of Australia, Heidi Telstad of Canada and Marcia Hefker Miles of New Mexico.
The following is a list of past winners of the Mongol Derby, and their home countries.
- 2017 - Ed Fernon (Australia) and Barry Armitage (South Africa)
- 2016 - William Comiskey aka Dingo (Australia), Heidi Telstad (Canada) and Marcia Hefker Miles (New Mexico)
- 2015 - Byeronie Epstein (South Africa)
- 2014 - Sam Jones (Australia)
- 2013 - Lara Prior-Palmer (England)
- 2012 - Donal Fahy (Ireland)
- 2011 - Craig Egberink (South Africa)
- 2010 - Justin Nelzen (U.S.A.)
- 2009 - Shiravsamboo Galbadrakh (Mongolia) and Charles van Wyk (South Africa)
The feature documentary film All The Wild Horses was shot over 3 races between 2012 and 2016, to be released in 2017. The producer, Ivo Marloh, rode and completed the Mongol Derby twice himself in order to get the footage needed for the film.
- "Mongol Derby - Horse Race". To Mongolia. tomongolia.blogspot.com. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- Ashleigh N., DeLuca. "World's Toughest Horse Race Retraces Genghis Khan's Postal Route". National Geography.
- DeHart, Jonathan (August 28, 2013). "The Mongol Derby: Genghis Khan's Equestrian Gauntlet". Asia Life. The Diplomat. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "Teenage Rider Wins Mongol Derby". PRI's The World. PRI's The World. August 23, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- Armytage, Marcus (August 19, 2013). "Mongol Derby, the world's toughest race, gives Clare Twemlow and Alex Embiricos a rough ride". The Telegraph: Sport: Horse Racing. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- McGowan, Tom (August 23, 2013). "Mongol Derby: 'Like the Tour de France crossed with Snakes and Ladders'". CNN: World Sport: Winning Post. Cable News Network. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "Byeronie Epstein Wins the 2015 Mongol Derby". Retrieved 12 August 2015.
- "2014 Derby Winner Crowned - Sam Jones (AU)". Retrieved 20 August 2014.
- Dunwoody, Richard (August 10, 2013). "Lara Prior-Palmer wins the Mongol Derby in 2013 in dramatic fashion". Daily Race Report. The League of Adventurists international Ltd. Archived from the original on August 17, 2013. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- Mr. Tom (August 18, 2012). "Donal Fahy - Mongol Derby 2012 Winner". The Jibber. The League of Adventurists international Ltd. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- Mr. Tom (August 13, 2011). "Mongol Derby 2011 Has Been Won". The Jibber. The League of Adventurists international Ltd. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "Mongol Derby Champion of Texas to return in 2011". Cruz Bay Publishing, Inc. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "Mongol Derby". Team EquiPro. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "Joint winners for Mongol Derby". horsetalk.co.nz. Horsetalk: World equestrian news and information. September 17, 2009. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "The Mongol Derby". The League of Adventurists international Ltd. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "About the Derby". Mongol Derby Blog. The League of Adventurists international Ltd. Retrieved September 16, 2013.
- "The Mongol Derby: in pictures". Telegraph: Travel: Activity and Adventure. Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved September 16, 2013.