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  • Writer's pictureAmelie Mongol Derby Racer

What is the Mongol Derby?

All the content below is taken from the Adventurists website. For more information, please visit their website.

The background

“It is easy to conquer the world from the back of a horse” – Genghis Khan.

In 1224, Man of the Millennium Genghis Khan set up the world’s first long-distance postal transmission system. Using a massive network of horse stations, his messengers could gallop from his capital Kharkhorin to the Caspian sea in a few days. It’s thought that the speed of this communication was one of the great tactical advantages of the Mongol warriors.

Riders carrying messages directly from the Khan would ride non-stop wearing a gergel (metal plates showing the authenticity of the message) on their belts. Messengers would leap onto their new ride at each Urtuu at full tilt; not even the call of nature or hunger would stop them. The remnants of this horse-wise-web carried on delivering post and messages right into the 1950’s.

For more than a decade, The Adventurists have been rebuilding this ancient network to stage the world’s greatest equine adventure race.

The longest and toughest horse race on earth

1000km of Mongolian steppe on semi-wild horses, changing steed every 40km.

The course consists of 25 horse-stations at 40km intervals (morin urtuu in Mongolian) to swap horses and refuel. This is no pony trek or guided tour. There’s no marked course, no packed lunches, and no beds to sleep in. This is the Mongol Derby. How you navigate between them is where your adventure begins.


Of the three million horses inhabiting the steppe, the great majority of them live in large semi-feral herds.  They survive temperature extremes from -40°C in the winter to +30°C in the summer; these are fierce animals.

Each rider can count on 25-27 horses depending on the course design, plus 3 for training, along with the 150 herders needed to get them where they should be when the riders need them.

At every horse station, riders must deliver their mounts in great health. The Adventurists bring on a large team of incredibly experienced international and Mongolian vets who check each horse before and after a ride to ensure it has been well-treated.

This is no pony trek or guided tour. There’s no marked course, no packed lunches, and no beds to sleep in. This is the Mongol Derby.

Equipment & Support

Each rider gets a custom built saddle designed to carry him or her 1000km. Additionally, each rider carries a satellite tracker with an emergency button. This shows the organizers at HQ where the riders are.

Nearly 200 people come together to stage the derby for the 40 riders; a team of medics and a race crew is there to ensure the race is run fairly and smoothly. Behind all this a massive cast of drivers and interpreters, as well as the piles of technology, medicine, and vehicles they need to do their jobs.


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