In the heat of battle on the steppe, you may get a rush of blood to the head and forget the exact ins and outs of the Mongol Derby Rulebook. If you can retain the following guiding principles, it's very unlikely you will fall foul of the penalty system, as these over-riding themes inform all the more specific rules which follow.
1. On Your Own
There is no outside assistance on offer from the organiser to the riders once you are off the start. The route you take between urtuus, the horses you choose to ride, the equipment you choose to carry or leave behind, the company you keep, what you decide to do in a tough situation, how you react in an emergency...all of these things are for you to decide. Where you take advice, from a herder, a fellow rider or a vet, this does not diminish your responsibility for any subsequent actions you take.
3. You Can't Get Ahead by Riding Harder, or Longer.
You can't win the Derby by riding through the night, because riding hours are uniform and riders are tracked with satellites and penalised for moving outside these hours. You can't win the Derby by pushing the horses too hard, as horses have to pass vet checks at the end of their leg and riders are penalised on high heart rates or any other signs of over-riding. Within these parameters, skilful riders can get ahead by getting the best out of their horses, using their time well, navigating successfully and looking after themselves and their steeds.
2. Horses Before Humans
We are able to run this magnificent event thanks to the generosity of the Mongolian herders, and the availability of a quite staggering number of horses kicking about on the steppe. Whilst it's highly likely that you will finish the Derby in ever-so-slightly worse shape than when you started, the same cannot be tolerated for the horses. We expect you to take care of your steeds as if they were your own. We want the pick of the herds from our herding families, and we must return them in A1 condition.
4. Adventurists Chivalry.
The Mongol Derby is a ridiculously dangerous event. We like to think you chaps are united by adventure first and foremost, with trying to win as a secondary concern. We therefore ask that you do not trot over a man down but stop and help. You see the same kind of rules popping up in other high-risk adventures such as round the world yacht races. There may be times you will have to lay your own race ambitions to the side for the good of the field as a whole and future Derbies. If something serious has happened, respect our priorities which are horse and rider safety first, and rider placings a rather distant second.