Day 5 – Teamwork and tenacity


Day 5 – Teamwork and tenacity

Outlaw Kate

Mongol Derby

It was a hot and overcast kind of day today followed by an early evening thunderstorm which has become the norm since the start. Riders, knowing the routine, have been riding out of the last station of the day, rain gear on and ready. The lightning shows have been pretty spectacular.


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Phoebe de Raeve has shown us her navigational prowess, taking an interesting route up and through the mountains instead of staying low and in the valleys. Understandable, because if there’s one thing we know about her, she’s got a thing for mountains. She’s a rough and tumble type, takes her training seriously, but found herself rough-and-tumbling down into a crevasse in the mountains two weeks before the Derby.

Many of our riders do some serious cross-training in preparation for their ride but Phoebe may be the first who also trained for some serious falling. Not to worry though, she knows a thing or two about recovery, witnessed by her remarkable return to the Derby this year after a devastating injury in 2022.

Has the steppe curse lifted at last? Perhaps, as Randy Carr is back in the game, stayed on his horses all day and performed some crack navigating through the bog to overtake fellow back of the pack runner Solana Perez. It looks like his bad luck might be over. The good juju sent by his followers is definitely doing its job.

Further up the field, Sidney Pye left the field and was evacuated to the hospital yesterday after a bout of heat stroke & gastroenteritis. After some good clinical care including a restorative cold can of Coke he’s been medically cleared to come back and join his mate Jock. He’ll now be riding in adventure category, finishing the course and we look forward to seeing what this duo gets up to next.

Elizabeth Bailey had a close encounter of the horse-hoof kind a couple of days ago but has been cleared by the doctors in UB to return to the field in adventure category. She had a lovely reunion with her riding mates Erin Sykes and Emmelia Potts. We’ve missed her signature smiling face and can’t wait to see her riding through the horse stations on the way to the finish.

Hilaire Blythe had an exodus from her horse a la human lawn dart the other day and fractured her finger. After being assessed and released from the SOS clinic in UB, she was cleared by doctors to come back to the field and ride in the Bloodwagon, our mobile vehicle for the walking- and previously-wounded. Although disappointed to say the least, she is displaying that typical Derby-reslience and suck-it-up-ness and is looking forward to participating in the adventure in a slightly different manner. She is an incredible horsewoman, has ridden some very feisty horses, and her calm demeanor has stood her in good stead out here on the steppe.

With the intermittent downpours happening on a regular schedule, a lack of waterproof outerwear can pose some serious problems. It’s times like these when teammates step up to help that we see the evidence of true sportsmanship. Ashlin O’Connell, finding herself jacket-less after a bit of a rodeo, was graciously presented with a jacket from teammate Madliene Haim. They both rode through a powerful thunderstorm, Madliene a bit worse for wear but grinning and bearing it like the best of them. Evidence once again that this race can bring out the best and while providing the shared experiences that forges lifelong friendships.

Matthew Perella’s lost horse came home to roost today, although sadly minus Matthew’s saddlebag and saddle. Since we are all optimistic out here on the steppe, we know he’ll be reunited with his kit but in the meantime is riding with borrowed gear. You would not know this is anything of a hardship judging by Matthew’s determination to put a positive spin on every obstacle he has encountered thus far.

When our vets are not busy running their horse stations (and it can be very busy at the horse stations) they lend their expertise to tending to all variety of the herders’ stock. Our herding families live very far away from most veterinary care so this roving band of vets coming through their vicinity is very much appreciated. Vets Don and Paul have had a great time getting up close and personal with sheep, horses and goats. It’s been gloves on and hands on with some interesting cases, providing relief and care to the livestock that are so integral to the herding way of life.

Meanwhile medic Ness and her driver have been providing an off-road rescue service. The rural roads here are very basic but surprisingly busy. The team came across a young family who managed to get their Prius stuck in the mud.  They stopped to give a push and a shove (Ness is amazingly multi-talented) and the family was off again with a grin and a wave.

The fantastic four of Linda Herman, Xavier Ferrer, Trinity Nelzen, and Judith Jaeckle continue to hold their lead at the front. They’ve had their fair share of tumbles, lost horses and gear fails, but today they received a nice treat when they rocked up to HS14, the home of 2022 Mongol Derby August edition winner Erdene-Ochir. Erdene had a feast fit for royalty (and ice-cold Coca Cola) waiting for them. Amazing hospitality from Erdene and his family who no doubt were swapping Derby stories with the four intrepid 2023 riders.

Linda, Xavier, Judith and Trinity are for the most part racing independently and have managed to keep their early breakaway from the main pack. Their tenacity is remarkable to behold. They are staying positive, looking forward and determined to maintain their lead.

Front runners notwithstanding, this race is still anyone’s to win at this point and the chasing lot have been hustling hard. While the front runners are largely racing solo, the quartet of friends from Pakistan who are calling themselves “Team Pak” are pooling their resources and making the dream work with team work. Their strategy is to maximize efficiency and minimize time: one team member heads to get food while the others sort gear and get ready to choose and saddle horses. They have shown consistent riding, clocking an average of four stations a day and have moved up the field from the very back from where they were on Day 1. They could very well be in contention for a win if they keep up their current pace.

And although not riding as a team, our resident American cheese maker Jesse Dowling cannot be underestimated. She’s spent a year learning how to speak Mongolian (as have several other riders) and has put it to good use, winning the hearts of our herding families across the steppe. She’s managed to hold and improve her position in the race through consistency and even if she doesn’t realize it yet, is in position now to have an excellent chance at a top finish.

Day 5 Leaderboard:

Between HS16 – HS17:

HS 16:

Between HS15 – HS16:


Between HS14 – HS15:


Between HS13 – HS14:





*Adventure Class

Outlaw Kate

Mongol Derby