Day 3 and the cracks are beginning to show. While most have had a good ride in the cool of the morning, by the time the sun reached full strength a lot of them were starting to struggle.
The travails began early for two of the boys camped out. Will Graham lost his horse to a passing herd while saddling up in the morning and had to walk back to HS7 to find a new horse and friendly local to help him recover the wayward steed. Our team on the ground report he took off in pursuit, bareback along with a local on a bike armed with a lasso pole. By not taking assistance from the crew he saved himself a penalty (no penalty given for local help), but did drop 16 places in the field.
Thomas Ellingsen lost his horse in a near identical manner, with his horse running back to HS6. Event Manager Chloe set off to find Thomas and bring him back to his steed. Unfortunately this warrants a 1 hour penalty, but he reports the field dressing on his unmentionables is holding up.
Elsewhere Sian Dyson and Catherine Coward both succumbed to the heat and needed to take an IV drip. Catherine perked up before long, but Sian has needed to take more rest, resulting in the need for a carry forward. Catherine Gudde in an act of great sportmanship decided to wait with her riding partners for the decision before riding on with her namesake. If Sian is able to continue from HS7 she will pick up a 3 hour penalty.
By mid-morning Devan Horne was caught up by Michele Tanaka, Kathryn Whitney and Byeronie Epstein on the approach to HS9. Eagle eyed race referee Maggie spotted that Devan was looking less than comfortable and with another 6 riders within sight, would be feeling the pressure too.
On reaching HS9 Devan was unable to continue whith presumed heat stroke and Ben Wilks, Kathryn Whitney, Michele Tanaka, Braden Cameron, Simon Pearse, Patrick Sells, Maxim van Lierde, Elise Poitrinal and Byeronie Epstein all carried on ahead of her.
While Devan lay recovering, more action developed around her. Andrea Westerdahl arrived with a strained groin and flat tracker batteries, pausing to get both resolved. Petra Sundstrom arrived shortly after sans horse, having walked the last 4 km. She took the opportunity to rest there while Event manager Unenburen took off in pursuit of horse and kit.
Will Graham too joined the party after a painfully slow leg arriving just in time to see Devan saddling up and heading out after nearly 3 hours of being immobile. He's had a tough old day but is still fighting. He managed to get almost half way to HS10 before noticing he and his horse were struggling but chose to ride back to HS9 rather than hit the 'help button'.
Devan pushed hard to HS10 which proved too much for her horse which was dehydrated and had a raised heart rate. The horse fully recovered after taking fluid but she earned herself a 2 hour vet penalty when she reaches the Penalty Station (HS11). On top of this she needed to stick with her horse until its heart rate returned to normal, but at least this gave her a chance to rehydrate herself.
Simon Pearse also underestimated the affect of the heat on his horse. He also picked up a 2 hour penalty at horse station 10 for raise heart rate and had already left before deciding he wanted to stay with the animal to check its recovery.
Towards the end of the day we had our second retirement as Sian Dyson surrendered to the heat. After her difficult morning she wasn't making sufficient recovery progress and the decision was made to evacuate her. Catherine Gudde also needed intravenous fluids and is being monitored at HS7 with Catherine Coward. Both riders look doubtful to get much further tomorrow.
Kathryn Whitney found her horse struggling after leaving HS10 and rather than risk injury chose to walk it back to the station she'd just left. He chivalry costing her a night with the leaders at HS11. The vets report the horse has a twisted fetlock which she did well to protect.
All down the field riders have been struggling with the third successive day of searing heat. Amy Johnson who had digestive issues at start was really struggling as was Alexander Dobres who became unable to carry on, picked up a 3 hour penalty for a carry forward.
At the front of the field Byeronie Epstein, another of Justin Nelzen's prodigies, is suffering with a knee injury. She is in some pain and was momentarily unsure if she could continue.
And its only day 3. With another hot day tomorrow and the terrain set to get much more challenging it looks like we'll have more withdrawals over the weekend.
Ending on a more cheery note, as the sun was dropping on the steppe Petra Sundstrom's horse was found, along with her saddle, bridle and saddle-bags.
Derby chief Katy will be reporting through the race, live on Twitter: @MongolDerbyLive
The Full List of Riders can be found over on the Mongol Derby website.
Applications for 2016 are open. If you prefer to participate than spectate you can apply here.