Mongol Derby 2023 Day 1: The Journey Begins
The 2023 edition of the Mongol Derby kicked off under cloudy and cool skies; perfect riding weather for these 42 intrepid international riders who have come to the steppe hoping to make their mark.
As the riders lined up for the kickoff to this 10-day adventure, the feisty horses had their own ideas about what constitutes a good time, causing a few spills and thrills which added spice to an already charged atmosphere at the start line. Just a taste of what is to come over the next 10 days as these riders will change horses at each of the 28 horse stations: no two rides will be the same which is about as close to a certainty as we can get in this race.
RCA Randy Carr was the talk of the start line, drawing an award-winning stallion for the first leg. This stallion is famous in these parts; many a song has been sung about his incredible talent and Randy was fixing to add his own verse to the stallion’s extensive repertoire. This was not to be though, as the channel was abruptly changed when the stallion drew up lame approximately 20km out of HS1. Such is the luck of the draw with the Derby. Restarting from HS1, Randy finished out the day in fine form nonetheless.
The first penalties of the Derby were handed out at HS1 to 8 riders who pulled into HS1 with horses’ heartrates slightly above the stringent parameters set by the Derby rules. What started out as a fast and thrilling ride left Trinity TNE, Olivia OGA, Rebecca RHE, Micaiah MSO, Alice ARO, Moazzam MHK and Lexi LPE cooling their jets at HS1 while the race carried on ahead.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as the riders, regardless of their horse or penalty issues, were treated to stunning landscapes of lush green rolling hills and wildflowers with the odd wild gazelle and deer thrown in for good measure. They crossed rivers, they skirted mountains, they rode across vast open spaces without a fenceline to be seen. They can expect more of this feast for the senses as their journey of 1000km will take them through the diverse and incredible landscape that Mongolia has to offer.
Xavier XFE, riding at the front of the pack for most of the day, had a reversal of fortune when he abruptly parted ways with his horse enroute to HS3. Hitching a ride back to HS2, he will restart from there at the opening of Day 2 with the rest of the HS2 overnighters.
As evening fell and riding hours crept to a close at 7pm, a good half of the field chose to partake of the legendary hospitality of the steppe, finding welcoming host families with whom they shared the night. Sebastian SCO, Alice ARO, Jock JRA, and Sidney SPY happened across a tourist camp, and by pooling their tugriks and pulling out bent and twisted credit cards, somehow managed to find themselves actual beds for the night. Part of the adventure is embracing those unexpected gifts when they come your way.
It’s early days and too soon for predictions but the leaderboard for Day 1 is as follows:
At HS 3:
Between HS2 – HS3:
Between HS1 – HS2
Tune in tomorrow for more thrills and spills from the steppe and catch all the up-to-date news on our socials.