You really are on your own, and what a glorious thing that is.  Just you and a team of spirited little horses, roaming freely over a magnificent landscape, drinking from rivers, smelling wild flowers, sharing a knuckle of mutton for sustenance or a long-forgotten anecdote as your mind wanders contentedly....

...until an eagle gets up under your feet, your horse goes left and you go right, and all hell breaks loose.  What then?  Hmm?

Are you injured?

That is to say, "have you incurred the kind of injury that means you cannot continue?" We all know what horsey people are like - a broken rib here, a ligament loosened there, it's all par for the course so if you can make it to the next urtuu yourself, then so much the better.

If you can't proceed, we have a very sophisticated back-up system ready to swoop in, scoop up the bits that fell off and stick you back together.  See the Derby Back-up and Crews section for more details on who's who.

If you do require immediate medical assistance, you can summon it using the SOS button on the SPOT tracker attached to your helmet/shoulder.  You'll learn how at Pre Race Training. 

The SPOT tracker - small and ginger and battery powered, they keep the Derby running

This sends a message to HQ in Ulaanbaatar and help will be dispatched. Depending on where you are, this could take 10 minutes, or 3 hours.  You must not move from your location once you have activated your tracker- within reason, of course. Time spent looking for you is very valuable time wasted.

If you are carrying a cell phone by all means call the HQ number as directed in your Rider On the Steppe Pack - any info you can give before help arrives will be very useful. 

Prometheus Medic James Hubbard in action on the Mongol Derby 2013

Prometheus Medic James Hubbard in action on the Mongol Derby 2013

As soon as we recieve the SOS, we'll dispatch the NEAREST mobile unit to your location.  That is to say, if an event director or a mobile vet is closest, they will be sent to your aid as first responder.  If they can provide you with any comfort, like a fag and a blanket then they'll do that, whilst also relaying any useful information to the medic teams and HQ. Especially necessary in cases where specialist equipment needs to be prepared, or perish the thought, a helicopter evac arranged.

Once the medics are on the scene they are equipped to deal with all manner of mishap and will treat you accordingly.  They will either clear you to continue, treat you at the scene, or if you require treatment in a hospital, make arrangements for you.  If you have really done yourself a mischief, they have enough sedatives on board to keep you under until you wake up in Seoul- lucky you!

Mongol Derby 14

You should also use the SOS summons if your horse incurs a serious injury.  You are all horseman, and you need to be sensible about this; there is no horse ambulance to get horses to 'definitive care', and in many cases the very best thing you can do for your horse is get it to the next station and a fully equipped vet team.  Exceptions include wounds- if a clean and stitch job is required and pain relief should be administered, then we would seek to treat this at the scene, and you should summon a vet to your location and not move the horse. 

Rules about SOS assistance

1. As long as you have operated the SPOT correctly, you will not incur any penalties for summoning emergency assistance.  Chances are, whatever you have suffered will be its own penalty.  However if we take you off the horse and move your forward to the next urtuu in a jeep, you will have to take a 3 hour penalty for the lift.  If we take you back an urtuu and treat you there, and then get you back in the race, you will not incur any time penalties.

2.  If the SOS emergency is horse-related, and you have made every effort to look after your horse, you will not be penalised further.  You will not be transported forward, or back until your horse has been dealt with.  You may have to act as vet nurse for whatever is going on.  If your horse is fit to walk on you may have to walk it to the next urtuu after some field first aid has been administered.  Work with the vets please in the interests of the horse.

If your horse goes lame, for example, and the team decide it would be better to leave it to rest with a local family rather than get it back or forward to our horse stations, you may have to get in a vehicle due to lack of choice.  In respect of this the penalty you take for the lift may be scaled back to just 1 hour.

In either case, if you get off the horse and end up restarting more than one urtuu away from your incident location, then you will not receive an official placing.

Are you just in a bit of a pickle?

There may be instances where you do not require an ambulance or a blood transfusion, but where you are a bit stuck.  Possible examples are that you have fallen off and lost your horse.  Or that your girth has snapped and you are teetering rather delicately on your horse's back.  Or that you are not feeling very well and have run out of lemsip.  Or that you have lost your waterproof jacket and the rain is pelting you and you are getting cold and wet, and might not survive the night if things continue.

Maybe you're just a bit wet

Maybe you're just a bit wet

Here you face two choices:

  • Plan A for Adventurist.  Here you take the initiative, cast around for any resources which may be called into service, such as locals, a length of rope, er....more locals, your fellow riders, and make good on your own, without any official assistance.  This is the stuff that Tales of Adventure are made of. 
  • Plan B for...Bit defeatist?  or Been at it all afternoon?  Perhaps you decide that you have wasted quite enough time trying to sort your own mess out and require some assistance from our friendly crews.  They will be happy to help but by calling them you agree to take a one-hour time penalty (in addition to any time spent awaiting the crews' arrival on the scene).  This is to even things up again between the A planners and the B planners. In the Adventurist annals, we must favour the former.

How to initiate Plan B: press the button labelled HELP on your SPOT tracker.  As with the SOS summons, you press and hold the button until the green light shows continuously. DO NOT MOVE!  As before, HQ won't know what the specific problem is and will dispatch the NEAREST mobile crew with sat comms to your location.   If necessary they will involve other crews when they have arrived and assessed your situation.  

The most common Plan B scenario is a lost horse.  If this has happened to you, don't despair. Herders catch loose horses all day, every day, and if there are people nearby, you stand a good chance of using sign language and your Mongolian phrasebook, and getting rescued.  You may even be able to sneak up on your steed and collar him yourself.

Rules about Plan B - non emergency assistance

1.  You cannot get outside assistance of any non-emergency kind without making it official, pressing your HELP button, and taking an hour's penalty.  Even if a crew drives past you and you flag them down.  Even if you are actually at a horse station, and want a medic to take a look at your saddle sores and maybe dress them for you. 

Sores like these. Ouch.

Sores like these. Ouch.

It's not that we don't want to help.  It's just that other riders can complain that we are putting some riders at an advantage, where others will take pleasure in managing on their own.  You'll all get advice on medical kits to bring, and how to manage your health, and you all know what a gnarly adventure this is.  You must prepare to look after yourself day-to-day, and leave the medic crews free to handle catastrophic injuries or illnesses, just as we envisaged.

2.  If you are at the horse station and a crew member can note the penalty directly into your rider card, then you do not have to press HELP.  Instead, the crew member assigning the penalty will inform HQ.  The penalty will be served at the next Penalty Urtuu, as with all other penalties.

Emergency aftermath; finishing the race vs. dropping out

This bit isn't really rule-governed.  It's impossible to cover off every type of sticky end or incident on the Mongol Derby.  You won't know how you will feel until you're in the situation, and we won't know what resources are available to accommodate you until the race is underway.  So, the following is a guideline, not a rule:

If we can get you back on a horse and back in the race, and you want to ride on, you are welcome to do so.  Chances are time will have passed and the back up crews may have been moved forward on the course to stay in touch with the leaders in the field.  In this case, you may have to be transported forward to re-join the main pack.  This being the case, you will not achieve an official placing- you must ride every leg to officially 'finish'.   If we transport you less than 1 urtuu you can take a 3 hour penalty and we'll call it quits.