The 2015 Mongol Derby start gun fires at 10am (local time). This is the course they'll be racing
- An extra 3 Urtuus (horse stations) through the hills
- An extra day's racing, winner expected after 8 days
- All new racing line to take the focus from navigation to riding
- A linear course offering more varied terrain ending further north
We wanted to mix things up a bit for the 2015 Derby and our new course looks and feels a world different.
The linear course ending up in the north by Lake Khovsgol should be cooler than in previous years. There will also be a lot more hilly terrain for the second half of the race. Because of the additional demands of the mountains the Urtuus will be closer together.
The additional horse stations together with a longer route are expected to add an extra day to the course. The champion is expected to finish within 8 days (possibly by the evening of the 7th) and the course will close on day 10.
For the first time ever we're giving the riders a racing line to navigate along, this will enable the riders to cross the most accessible passes and river crossings putting the onus more on riding than navigating. Hopefully it will mean less time lost between urtuus keeping the field closer together and making less work for the horses.
Start to Urtuu 4
Heading south west. Quite long legs, but fast and flat. Sand dunes for Urtuus 1 and 2 following the line of the Orkhon River. Scrubby and dry in places.
Urtuu 4 – 8
Easy navigation due north past Chinggis Khan's historic capital, Kharkhorin mostly along the river valley. Passing Ugii lake at Urtuu 8. derby Chief Katy describes the horses of U9 as 'superb'.
Urtuu 8 - 11
Heading northwest, crossing the Orkhon on Oldziyt bridge. The terrain begins to undulate from here. Good racehorses from Urtuu 9, feisty mountain horses from Urtuu 10.
Urtuu 11 - 12
Turning west through some beautiful valleys towards Edenmandal Soum. Good strawberry roans from Urtuu 11. Urtuu 11 is the first penalty urtuu (PU1).
Urtuu 12 - 14
Fast and flat in the valley heading southwest. Surrounding terrain going from lush green to high mountain. The family at Urtuu 13 have a strong racing record so expect some fast horses here.
Urtuu 14 - 16
Due west past Ondor Ulaan soum to the most westerly point, Urtuu 16. Not many horse from this area, so many of the horses here have been imported from 400 km away.
Urtuu 16 - 18
The valleys start to get steeper from here, beautiful scenery, mountain passes coming more regularly now. The riding is likely to be a bit slower here with some steeper bits and a couple of stony sections.
Urtuu 18 - 21
Rocky section northeast partly along the river, this will be a slower passage.
Urtuu 21 - 23
Urtuu 21 is the second penalty Urtuu (PU2). Some lovely scenery to stop at if you have to before the spectacular leg up to Urtuu 22. From U22 heading northwest. Crossing the floating bridge over the Selenge River, then along some sandy tracks towards U23 at Tsengel.
Urtuu 23 - 26
Some good racehorses from U23, continuing northwest back on the rocky paths towards Erkhel Lake and U26.
Urtuu 26 - Finish
Riding around the lake, then Northeast towards U27. Some beautiful horses here for the final leg up to lake Khovsgol. A wooded pass to the finish line which should allow a good sprint for those still able to.
The 2015 Mongol Derby launches Wednesday 5th August at 10am (GMT +9)
Applications for 2016 are open. If you prefer to participate than spectate you can apply here.