Endurance World...

Mongol Derby

Mongol Derby is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest – and toughest – horse race.

The start is scheduled for 9 August 2017 and the final rider is expected to arrive on 18 August.

For the ninth edition of the Mongol Derby 35 riders are entered: 12 men and 23 women from nine countries, tackling the 1,000km course across Mongolia on semi-wild horses.

The race recreates Chinggis Khaan’s ancient horse messenger system in truly epic fashion.

In this age the messengers have been replaced by riders riding up to 160km a day, navigating independently and changing horses at 40-kilometre intervals.

The horse stations, or morin urtuus, will be manned by nomadic herding families as they traditionally were.

Cool Earth is once again the race’s official charity.

“What better way to test yourself than through a tough endurance race that immerses you in a unique culture and takes you to Mongolia, the spiritual home of equestrianism.”
– Mongol Derby competitor 2017

William Comiskey was one of the joint winners in 2016 – and he’s back to try and win again this time, but as the sole champion. Trying to stop him are 34 fearsome competitors including an Olympian, a cattle herder, a dairy farmer, a potato farmer, an ostrich rider, a dog sledder, a psychologist, an artist, a banker, a private investigator… and even a desperate housewife. Naturally, they’ll be joined by the usual vets and riders of every type of horse on the planet.However, many of them are yet to ride the Mongolian horses…


2017 Competitors

AUSTRALIA

William Comiskey, 28, Long Reach, Australia
William grew up on a cattle station in Queensland where he learnt to ride, competing in rodeo, show-jumping and eventing. He now runs cattle. William was a joint winner of the race in 2016 and is back to try and win it on his own.

Greg Chant, 43, North East Victoria, Australia
Greg has only been riding since mid-2010, mainly with Arabians – and has always wanted to ride, for as long as he can remember. He is doing the Derby for the physical and mental challenge but mainly because he “wants to go for a long ride and not have to open any gates or jump any fences.” (Little does he know how many times he may have to pick himself up off the floor!)

Ed Fernon, 29, Sydney, Australia
Ed’s aim is to excel at life’s adventure, and in what better way than taking on the Derby? Ed competed for Australia at the 2012 London Olympic Games in modern pentathlon, has summited Aconcagua, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere, and has previously ridden 1000km between Braidwood, NSW and Melbourne over the Snowy Mountains, following the legend of the first Melbourne Cup winner, Archer.

Jodie Ward, 30, Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia
After submitting an application one casual afternoon thinking she would never make the cut, Katherine resident Jodie Ward is now well and truly in preparation to be a competitor in the internationally acclaimed Derby. “I’ve set myself what I would consider to be a pretty rigorous training schedule, but so far, I’m enjoying it. Hopefully it will all be enough to put me in good chance of placing near the top come race time.” Jodie is raising money for the Leukemia Foundation.

Rebecca Hewitt, 36, Moura, QLD, Australia
Rebecca grew up in rural Queensland riding before she could walk, and now operates a cattle enterprise with her husband. She enjoys a challenge…

James Lester, 21, Perth, Australia
Professional polo player James tarted riding horses just north of Perth from the age of six. When he “grows up”, he aspires to become a Seahorse trainer. He is competing in the Derby “to experience Mongolia’s unique culture and challenge my physical and mental boundaries.”

 

Emma Manthorpe, 30, Port Lincoln, South Australia
Emma grew up on a farm where her dad bred and worked racehorses. She began riding at a very young age and soon progressed to helping. She now works with horses as a veterinary nurse. She is having a mild ‘turning 30, not-quite-midlife crisis’, so is out to achieve something of significance.

Warren Sutton, 45, Ocean Grove, Victoria, Australia
Warren loves to educate young horses of all breeds from first rides into first competitions and races. He plays around in the film industry and is having a great time working on many projects in south-east Asia and at home. With many big adventures already achieved on foot, “now is the time to do it on horseback into the Mongolian Derby of 2017!”

Lucy Taylor, 21, Coonamble, NSW, Australia
Lucy grew up on a cattle property in North Western NSW and was on the back of a horse at a very early age. She now works as an international polo groom travelling from country to country, chasing summer and working with some of the most amazing horses. She is doing the Derby because she thinks “it will be an incredible adventure as well as invaluable learning experience.”

CANADA

Olivia Wood, 24, Canada – living in Buffalo, NY
A thrill seeker, Olivia started off with hunter ponies but found her need for speed early as she transitioned into jumpers, western gaming and then into on and off-track thoroughbreds. She has entered the Derby “for the mental and physical challenge and to keep my mother on her toes!”

Tamara Beckstead, 52, Rockwood, Ontario, Canada
A small animal vet who feels most alive atop a horse, eventing has earned Tamara the nickname “Teflon Girl” by her coach. Hunting satisfies the thrill of 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!).

GERMANY

Annette Kriller, 51, Slussfors, Sweden (German)
A German veterinarian with her own practice for small animals and (some) horses in Lapland/Northern Sweden, Annette loves activities that she can do as a team with animals, such as sled dogs (she owns 40 and enjoys training and travelling with them, but is mostly passionate about taking care of them as a veterinarian) and horses. She would have loved to become an amateur jockey and always had the dream to undertake a long trip with horses. “The Mongol Derby seems to combine all of this.”

ICELAND

Christine Sarah Arndt, 38, Búðardalur, Iceland (German)
Christine grew up in a small town near Stuttgart, Germany, and spent most of her after-school hours riding and taking care of all kinds of horses. She moved to Iceland at the age of 19 and now lives on a sheep farm with her husband and two children. “The Derby is the perfect kick in the butt to get in shape and there is no better way to discover beautiful landscapes than from the back of a horse.”

NEW ZEALAND

 

Jennifer Cook, 31, Rotarua, NZ
A Southern born and bred Kiwi who currently resides in Rotorua, Jen grew up riding horses, beginning as a volunteer with her mum at the RDA, then eventually going to pony club, showing, eventing and games. For the last 10 years she has worked in tourism and outdoor education, loves to travel and explore and has a passion for photography. She wants to do this race because not only is Mongolia an incredible country, but she also loves a challenge and having a cause like Cool Earth benefitting from this experience makes it worth every minute to her.

Marie Palzer, 22, Marahau, NZ
Horse riding provides Marie with a sense of freedom and empowerment. She entered the Mongol Derby because she is completely addicted to adventure and pushing herself to her limits. She taught herself to ride at a young age, and is now classified as a long-distance rider having spent 102 days travelling solo on horseback. She trains green horses, works at a horse trekking company, competes in trail rides, gives riding lessons and – alongside all that – is a Waldorf Steiner teacher. “I think it’s wonderful to take what you love and turn it into a gift that makes the world a better place”.

UK

Mark Bauwens, 61, London, UK
Claims to be the oldest, fattest and least funny competitor! Raising funds for Combat Stress, Mark learnt to ride and speak Spanish on his parents’ sofa from watching western movies. Useless at school, and especially at geography, this is honestly a dream come true for him. He hopes to find many cantinas along the way and maybe the odd bank to put into practice what he has learnt, IF he can stay off the beer, crisps and chocolate on that sofa as he continues his education…

Neil Goldie-Scot, 56, Sussex, UK
Neil first engaged with horses as a 10-year-old when heassisted his brother on one of the very first Riding for the Disabled groups in the UK. After a forty-year gap he rediscovered horses when he recklessly decided to take up polo!  His wife (Clare Salmon), who is also in the Derby, assured him that “twelve falls make a rider” and he naively believed her. Multiple falls later, he is heading to Mongolia and will be raising money for the RDA, of which he is now honorary treasurer.

Cy Lloyd Jones, 41, Dorset, UK
Cy is a former Tank Commander in the British Army, now turned investment banker. Avid horse rider, sailor and frustrated polo player, Cy is riding in the Derby both for the personal test and the unique equestrian experience. “I need challenges like these to keep life in perspective. What better way to test yourself than through a tough endurance race that immerses you in a unique culture and takes you to Mongolia, arguably the spiritual home of equestrianism. I can’t think of any place or event that will allow you to build up such an exclusive and natural partnership with a horse, I hope that this experience will be riding in its purest form.”

Rebecca Pumphrey, 30, Bucks, UK
Rebecca, better known as Pixie, grew up in Buckinghamshire. She works in London at a busy talent agency, looking after actors and trying to cram in training where she can. Rebecca has been riding her whole life, mostly Arabs, which are her breed of choice. Turning 30 she felt that perhaps she wasn’t embracing life so chose the most extreme challenge she could find in the most inspirational place. She is feeling “enlivened and terrified by the challenge ahead.”

 

Ceri Putman, 30, Lusaka, Zambia
A British female entrepreneur who fell in love with Africa, Ceri started her riding career in pony club, then competing in show-jumping in the UK. Later she took up polo at the University of St Andrews, and has since been actively involved in equestrian sport in Zambia. She now focuses on producing young horses and re-schooling ex-racehorses for all disciplines. From a young age, Ceri has taken a classical approach in training horses, but is often sought out to take on ‘problem horses’. She hopes that this, alongside adventure experiences in Zambia and further afield, combined with ‘hands-on’ farrier/vet care, will help her competitive edge in the Derby.

Paul Richards, 59, Cornwall, UK
Paul is a fourth-generation Cornish dairy farmer who took to riding and hunting in later years. He is keen to experience an adventure that will connect him with the spiritual wilderness of Mongolia. He is ready and willing to “go the extra mile” to raise money for his chosen charity, Children’s Hospice South West, under the philosophy that “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle” (Winston Churchill).

Clare Salmon, 53, Sussex, UK
Clare 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. She runs the British Equestrian Federation, has a polo team and does a bit of horse-racing. Before horses came into her life, she raced as a cyclist for seven years. Clare 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
Sally 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.” She has had the Mongol Derby in her sights for some years. Having successfully 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
Victoria grew up in South Africa loving horses from a distance. She wishes that 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”

USA

Pierre Germain, 21, Owings Mills, Maryland, USA
Pierre was born in Paris and moved to the U.S.at the age of eight. He started riding at three years old, working for a summer as a wrangler at a dude ranch taking care of 130 horses and entertaining guests daily at the age of 19. His family bought a farm last summer and he works there and rides every day when back home. He has a passion for all things nature and conservation and looks forward to meeting the many people of the Derby and “feeling the winds of the steppe on my face as I race from ger to ger.”

Julia Fisher, 65, Hartsville, SC, USA
A psycholinguist raised on concrete, asphalt, and steel, Julia 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!

Amanda Charlton Herbert, 25, Maine, USA
Amanda is a lifelong horsewoman and equine artist with a passion for nature preservation. She has worked with horses in the jumping and dressage rings as well as on the cattle ranch and considers them to be the best life coaches out there – regardless of the discipline. Amanda is competing in the Derby to raise awareness and funds for Cool Earth and the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

Rick Helson, 58, Green River, Wyoming, USA
Rick met his first horse at age 52 and has been trying to stay on ever since. He is really excited about the Derby because “it will be a monumental adventure, and because the horses are small so it’s not as far to fall”. If only he knew….

Rachel Land, 38, Easley, SC, USA (will ride with Clare Summers)
Rachel is so much more than a horse enthusiast, she is a “life enthusiast”!  A wife, a mother of four young boys, co-founder of Strong & Crazy, an equestrian performer, ostrich jockey, and endurance rider are a few of the hats she wears and the adventures that have shaped her. Racing in the Mongol Derby is the next step in the pursuit of a full life and always wanting to dream big.

Marianne Logue Williams, 54 Tryon, North Carolina, USA
Marianne 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. She 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
Clare didn’t get her first horse until the age of 34, but had the passion practically in-utero. She is an endurance rider in the southeastern 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.”

Leslie Wylie, 35, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Leslie is a three-day eventer, pony whisperer, desperate housewife, equestrian journalist for the websites Eventing Nation and Horse Nation, and podcaster for Horse Radio Network. Her hobbies include box wine and being in over her head. Why she’s doing it: “Girls just wanna have fun! Oh, and saving the rainforest.”

SOUTH AFRICA

Jakkie Mellet, 40, Lydenburg, South Africa
Describing himself as a city kid turned seed potato farmer, the time Jakkie spent visiting farms while growing up in Johannesburg was always magical, “because that was the time spent riding and being wild outside”. 12 years ago, he moved to farmland, at that stage more for the sake of the horses than potatoes. He’s 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”.

SWEDEN

Suzanna Holmqvist, 29, Lima, Sweden (currently lives in Perth, Australia)
Suzanna is a private investigator who has a thing for crazy adventures. She grew up in Sweden but has lived and worked in Australia for many years and has been riding since early childhood. Her most recent adventure was to ride her fjord horse 2,500kms through Sweden during 100 days, so she should be able to last ten days on the Mongolian steppe…


Photo credit: Richard Dunwoody

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Mongol Derby

Mongol Derby is featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest – and toughest – horse race.

The start is scheduled for 9 August 2017 and the final rider is expected to arrive on 18 August.

For the ninth edition of the Mongol Derby 35 riders are entered: 12 men and 23 women from nine countries, tackling the 1,000km course across Mongolia on semi-wild horses.

The race recreates Chinggis Khaan’s ancient horse messenger system in truly epic fashion.

In this age the messengers have been replaced by riders riding up to 160km a day, navigating independently and changing horses at 40-kilometre intervals.

The horse stations, or morin urtuus, will be manned by nomadic herding families as they traditionally were.

Cool Earth is once again the race’s official charity.

“What better way to test yourself than through a tough endurance race that immerses you in a unique culture and takes you to Mongolia, the spiritual home of equestrianism.”
– Mongol Derby competitor 2017

William Comiskey was one of the joint winners in 2016 – and he’s back to try and win again this time, but as the sole champion. Trying to stop him are 34 fearsome competitors including an Olympian, a cattle herder, a dairy farmer, a potato farmer, an ostrich rider, a dog sledder, a psychologist, an artist, a banker, a private investigator… and even a desperate housewife. Naturally, they’ll be joined by the usual vets and riders of every type of horse on the planet.However, many of them are yet to ride the Mongolian horses…


2017 Competitors

AUSTRALIA

William Comiskey, 28, Long Reach, Australia
William grew up on a cattle station in Queensland where he learnt to ride, competing in rodeo, show-jumping and eventing. He now runs cattle. William was a joint winner of the race in 2016 and is back to try and win it on his own.

Greg Chant, 43, North East Victoria, Australia
Greg has only been riding since mid-2010, mainly with Arabians – and has always wanted to ride, for as long as he can remember. He is doing the Derby for the physical and mental challenge but mainly because he “wants to go for a long ride and not have to open any gates or jump any fences.” (Little does he know how many times he may have to pick himself up off the floor!)

Ed Fernon, 29, Sydney, Australia
Ed’s aim is to excel at life’s adventure, and in what better way than taking on the Derby? Ed competed for Australia at the 2012 London Olympic Games in modern pentathlon, has summited Aconcagua, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere, and has previously ridden 1000km between Braidwood, NSW and Melbourne over the Snowy Mountains, following the legend of the first Melbourne Cup winner, Archer.

Jodie Ward, 30, Katherine, Northern Territory, Australia
After submitting an application one casual afternoon thinking she would never make the cut, Katherine resident Jodie Ward is now well and truly in preparation to be a competitor in the internationally acclaimed Derby. “I’ve set myself what I would consider to be a pretty rigorous training schedule, but so far, I’m enjoying it. Hopefully it will all be enough to put me in good chance of placing near the top come race time.” Jodie is raising money for the Leukemia Foundation.

Rebecca Hewitt, 36, Moura, QLD, Australia
Rebecca grew up in rural Queensland riding before she could walk, and now operates a cattle enterprise with her husband. She enjoys a challenge…

James Lester, 21, Perth, Australia
Professional polo player James tarted riding horses just north of Perth from the age of six. When he “grows up”, he aspires to become a Seahorse trainer. He is competing in the Derby “to experience Mongolia’s unique culture and challenge my physical and mental boundaries.”

 

Emma Manthorpe, 30, Port Lincoln, South Australia
Emma grew up on a farm where her dad bred and worked racehorses. She began riding at a very young age and soon progressed to helping. She now works with horses as a veterinary nurse. She is having a mild ‘turning 30, not-quite-midlife crisis’, so is out to achieve something of significance.

Warren Sutton, 45, Ocean Grove, Victoria, Australia
Warren loves to educate young horses of all breeds from first rides into first competitions and races. He plays around in the film industry and is having a great time working on many projects in south-east Asia and at home. With many big adventures already achieved on foot, “now is the time to do it on horseback into the Mongolian Derby of 2017!”

Lucy Taylor, 21, Coonamble, NSW, Australia
Lucy grew up on a cattle property in North Western NSW and was on the back of a horse at a very early age. She now works as an international polo groom travelling from country to country, chasing summer and working with some of the most amazing horses. She is doing the Derby because she thinks “it will be an incredible adventure as well as invaluable learning experience.”

CANADA

Olivia Wood, 24, Canada – living in Buffalo, NY
A thrill seeker, Olivia started off with hunter ponies but found her need for speed early as she transitioned into jumpers, western gaming and then into on and off-track thoroughbreds. She has entered the Derby “for the mental and physical challenge and to keep my mother on her toes!”

Tamara Beckstead, 52, Rockwood, Ontario, Canada
A small animal vet who feels most alive atop a horse, eventing has earned Tamara the nickname “Teflon Girl” by her coach. Hunting satisfies the thrill of 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!).

GERMANY

Annette Kriller, 51, Slussfors, Sweden (German)
A German veterinarian with her own practice for small animals and (some) horses in Lapland/Northern Sweden, Annette loves activities that she can do as a team with animals, such as sled dogs (she owns 40 and enjoys training and travelling with them, but is mostly passionate about taking care of them as a veterinarian) and horses. She would have loved to become an amateur jockey and always had the dream to undertake a long trip with horses. “The Mongol Derby seems to combine all of this.”

ICELAND

Christine Sarah Arndt, 38, Búðardalur, Iceland (German)
Christine grew up in a small town near Stuttgart, Germany, and spent most of her after-school hours riding and taking care of all kinds of horses. She moved to Iceland at the age of 19 and now lives on a sheep farm with her husband and two children. “The Derby is the perfect kick in the butt to get in shape and there is no better way to discover beautiful landscapes than from the back of a horse.”

NEW ZEALAND

 

Jennifer Cook, 31, Rotarua, NZ
A Southern born and bred Kiwi who currently resides in Rotorua, Jen grew up riding horses, beginning as a volunteer with her mum at the RDA, then eventually going to pony club, showing, eventing and games. For the last 10 years she has worked in tourism and outdoor education, loves to travel and explore and has a passion for photography. She wants to do this race because not only is Mongolia an incredible country, but she also loves a challenge and having a cause like Cool Earth benefitting from this experience makes it worth every minute to her.

Marie Palzer, 22, Marahau, NZ
Horse riding provides Marie with a sense of freedom and empowerment. She entered the Mongol Derby because she is completely addicted to adventure and pushing herself to her limits. She taught herself to ride at a young age, and is now classified as a long-distance rider having spent 102 days travelling solo on horseback. She trains green horses, works at a horse trekking company, competes in trail rides, gives riding lessons and – alongside all that – is a Waldorf Steiner teacher. “I think it’s wonderful to take what you love and turn it into a gift that makes the world a better place”.

UK

Mark Bauwens, 61, London, UK
Claims to be the oldest, fattest and least funny competitor! Raising funds for Combat Stress, Mark learnt to ride and speak Spanish on his parents’ sofa from watching western movies. Useless at school, and especially at geography, this is honestly a dream come true for him. He hopes to find many cantinas along the way and maybe the odd bank to put into practice what he has learnt, IF he can stay off the beer, crisps and chocolate on that sofa as he continues his education…

Neil Goldie-Scot, 56, Sussex, UK
Neil first engaged with horses as a 10-year-old when heassisted his brother on one of the very first Riding for the Disabled groups in the UK. After a forty-year gap he rediscovered horses when he recklessly decided to take up polo!  His wife (Clare Salmon), who is also in the Derby, assured him that “twelve falls make a rider” and he naively believed her. Multiple falls later, he is heading to Mongolia and will be raising money for the RDA, of which he is now honorary treasurer.

Cy Lloyd Jones, 41, Dorset, UK
Cy is a former Tank Commander in the British Army, now turned investment banker. Avid horse rider, sailor and frustrated polo player, Cy is riding in the Derby both for the personal test and the unique equestrian experience. “I need challenges like these to keep life in perspective. What better way to test yourself than through a tough endurance race that immerses you in a unique culture and takes you to Mongolia, arguably the spiritual home of equestrianism. I can’t think of any place or event that will allow you to build up such an exclusive and natural partnership with a horse, I hope that this experience will be riding in its purest form.”

Rebecca Pumphrey, 30, Bucks, UK
Rebecca, better known as Pixie, grew up in Buckinghamshire. She works in London at a busy talent agency, looking after actors and trying to cram in training where she can. Rebecca has been riding her whole life, mostly Arabs, which are her breed of choice. Turning 30 she felt that perhaps she wasn’t embracing life so chose the most extreme challenge she could find in the most inspirational place. She is feeling “enlivened and terrified by the challenge ahead.”

 

Ceri Putman, 30, Lusaka, Zambia
A British female entrepreneur who fell in love with Africa, Ceri started her riding career in pony club, then competing in show-jumping in the UK. Later she took up polo at the University of St Andrews, and has since been actively involved in equestrian sport in Zambia. She now focuses on producing young horses and re-schooling ex-racehorses for all disciplines. From a young age, Ceri has taken a classical approach in training horses, but is often sought out to take on ‘problem horses’. She hopes that this, alongside adventure experiences in Zambia and further afield, combined with ‘hands-on’ farrier/vet care, will help her competitive edge in the Derby.

Paul Richards, 59, Cornwall, UK
Paul is a fourth-generation Cornish dairy farmer who took to riding and hunting in later years. He is keen to experience an adventure that will connect him with the spiritual wilderness of Mongolia. He is ready and willing to “go the extra mile” to raise money for his chosen charity, Children’s Hospice South West, under the philosophy that “No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle” (Winston Churchill).

Clare Salmon, 53, Sussex, UK
Clare 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. She runs the British Equestrian Federation, has a polo team and does a bit of horse-racing. Before horses came into her life, she raced as a cyclist for seven years. Clare 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
Sally 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.” She has had the Mongol Derby in her sights for some years. Having successfully 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
Victoria grew up in South Africa loving horses from a distance. She wishes that 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”

USA

Pierre Germain, 21, Owings Mills, Maryland, USA
Pierre was born in Paris and moved to the U.S.at the age of eight. He started riding at three years old, working for a summer as a wrangler at a dude ranch taking care of 130 horses and entertaining guests daily at the age of 19. His family bought a farm last summer and he works there and rides every day when back home. He has a passion for all things nature and conservation and looks forward to meeting the many people of the Derby and “feeling the winds of the steppe on my face as I race from ger to ger.”

Julia Fisher, 65, Hartsville, SC, USA
A psycholinguist raised on concrete, asphalt, and steel, Julia 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!

Amanda Charlton Herbert, 25, Maine, USA
Amanda is a lifelong horsewoman and equine artist with a passion for nature preservation. She has worked with horses in the jumping and dressage rings as well as on the cattle ranch and considers them to be the best life coaches out there – regardless of the discipline. Amanda is competing in the Derby to raise awareness and funds for Cool Earth and the Mustang Heritage Foundation.

Rick Helson, 58, Green River, Wyoming, USA
Rick met his first horse at age 52 and has been trying to stay on ever since. He is really excited about the Derby because “it will be a monumental adventure, and because the horses are small so it’s not as far to fall”. If only he knew….

Rachel Land, 38, Easley, SC, USA (will ride with Clare Summers)
Rachel is so much more than a horse enthusiast, she is a “life enthusiast”!  A wife, a mother of four young boys, co-founder of Strong & Crazy, an equestrian performer, ostrich jockey, and endurance rider are a few of the hats she wears and the adventures that have shaped her. Racing in the Mongol Derby is the next step in the pursuit of a full life and always wanting to dream big.

Marianne Logue Williams, 54 Tryon, North Carolina, USA
Marianne 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. She 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
Clare didn’t get her first horse until the age of 34, but had the passion practically in-utero. She is an endurance rider in the southeastern 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.”

Leslie Wylie, 35, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Leslie is a three-day eventer, pony whisperer, desperate housewife, equestrian journalist for the websites Eventing Nation and Horse Nation, and podcaster for Horse Radio Network. Her hobbies include box wine and being in over her head. Why she’s doing it: “Girls just wanna have fun! Oh, and saving the rainforest.”

SOUTH AFRICA

Jakkie Mellet, 40, Lydenburg, South Africa
Describing himself as a city kid turned seed potato farmer, the time Jakkie spent visiting farms while growing up in Johannesburg was always magical, “because that was the time spent riding and being wild outside”. 12 years ago, he moved to farmland, at that stage more for the sake of the horses than potatoes. He’s 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”.

SWEDEN

Suzanna Holmqvist, 29, Lima, Sweden (currently lives in Perth, Australia)
Suzanna is a private investigator who has a thing for crazy adventures. She grew up in Sweden but has lived and worked in Australia for many years and has been riding since early childhood. Her most recent adventure was to ride her fjord horse 2,500kms through Sweden during 100 days, so she should be able to last ten days on the Mongolian steppe…


Photo credit: Richard Dunwoody

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