re-sized mongol derby finish

Today’s the day the MONGOL DERBY kicks off

You will remember that I introduced the Mongol Derby to you several weeks ago (Mongol Derby). Since then of course I’ve been talking about the Mongol Rally. That, however, is now finished and it’s time for the Derby.

Mongolia

There have been several worried persons challenging the idea of this Derby saying that it was cruelty to animals etc. Cruelty to the humans who intended to ride them as well as far as I can remember, but in my view, you don’t put your name down for a race like this, without understanding the potential consequences to your body and therefore the decision to take on a race like this has nothing to do with anyone but yourself… This is my humble opinion only of course!

However, with the Mongol Derby setting off today, it appears that The Adventurists are fully aware of the concern people have for the equine side of this race and have instigated the most stringent veterinary checks and back-up systems.

Cast your mind back to my original article and you will remember that I said this is mooted as the world’s longest horse race – the first of its kind and very likely a Guinness World Record (TM).

However this is not an an endurance race by any definition or, for that matter, by affiliation. The 25 riders are riding over every inch of the 1,000 km’s of wild Mongolian steppe while the horses travel just 40 kilometres each, between each staging post.

Firstly, and primarily, the Derby is intended as an adventure, and secondly as a multi-horse race.

Over 700 Mongolian horses, all carefully selected and checked by veterinarians, will be stationed at the Urtuus along the course awaiting the arrival of our riders. With two weeks to cover the near 1,000 km course, riders are pitted against the most exciting equine adventure on the planet.

An extensive veterinary program has been established to ensure the welfare of the horses remains absolutely paramount from the initial point of horse selection all the way through to the end of the race. GPS satellite tracking will allow expedition medics and on-call veterinarians to respond to riders in an emergency along the route.

As Tom Morgan founder of The Adenturists says: ”

“The Mongol Derby is going to be an amazing adventure and we have a fantastic team of equine experts and veterinarians to make the concept a spectacular reality this summer, with horse welfare firmly at the top of the agenda at all times.
The riders will need to be made of seriously tough stuff to succeed, but they are a splendid bunch. Now that we have established the route and finalised the extensive horse welfare program and emergency back up systems we’re set for a pioneering and probably record-breaking first edition of the world’s longest horse race.”
You will be able to track the riders live through an interactive map as you were able to do with the Mongol Rally. The route starts in Kharkhorin Soum, swings south of Ulaanbaatar and ends in Khentii Aimag 1,000 km later. The exact race route will not be made public – the riders will be the only ones with access to the exact GPS points of the mighty route. The entire race route including the Morin Urtuus (Mongolian for horse station) has been plotted by GPS co-ordinates. A recent revision was made to increase the number of water sources and all of these have been clearly plotted so the riders always know where the nearest source of water is along the route.

You can’t say the organisers haven’t tried to think of everything.

And finally, as with the Mongol Rally, there is an ulterior motive to this race and this is to raise money for charity projects in Mongolia.

The official charity of the 2009 Mongol Derby is Mercy Corps.

The Adventurists have supported Mercy Corps’ projects all over the world through their other adventures – from India to South America.

Dominic Graham, Mongolia Country Director for Mercy Corps said:

“Money raised by riders in the Mongol Derby will be used to fund vital initiatives run by local groups in remote parts of rural Mongolia that receive very little support from elsewhere.”
The Mongol Derby is working closely with Mercy Corps in Mongolia to ensure that the money raised from the Derby goes to the herding communities who are going to be so integral to the success of the race. More details of exactly how the money is used will be released shortly.

A postscript: if you followed my link to my previous article on the Mongol Derby I mentioned that Ben Fogle was hoping to be in this race. It appears that he will no longer be taking part.

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