Mongol Derby 2016 - The Penalty System Explained

You can’t win the Derby by riding through the night and you can’t win the Derby by pushing the horses too hard. Horses have to pass vet checks at the end of their leg and riders are penalised for 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.

— Derby Golden Rule No 3

The Mongol Derby is a first-past-the-post race. There is no banking of advantage from one leg or one day to the next.  The Adventurists enforce the rules throughout the race in the form of time penalties. For any rider that breaks a Derby rule, they will earn a time penalty and have to sit out the allotted time. 

Penalty Urtuus

Two of the horse-stations on the route are penalty Urtuus, manned by one of our sterling referees. Here riders will serve the penalties they may have accumulated and 'settle up' their balance. Penalty Urtuus on the 2016 course are U11 and U22. 

Until all riders have reached the penalty Urtuus, the leader in the field may not be the overall leader if they are carrying a penalty. 

Penalty Offences

Here are the main culprits:

Veterinary penalty - 2 hours
The Vets can award a penalty on veterinary grounds for anything they feel has compromised the welfare and recovery of a horse. Horse welfare on the Derby is paramount and the veterinary penalty encourages riders to remain vigilant and attuned to their horse's needs above their own race placing. Most commonly incurred when the horses heart rate is too high.  Heart rates are taken over a full minute, and must be under 56 bpm within 30 minutes of the rider coming into an Urtuu. 

Riding after hours - variable
The course is open between 7am and 8.30pm. A rider who's less than 30 minutes late gets a 2 minute penalty added on for every minute past 8.30.  After 9pm, it's a flat 3 hour penalty.  The rider moving after 10pm is liable to be disqualified. 

Mis-use of the SOS - 4 hours
The Riders can summon SOS assistance from their trackers. Misuse of that button carries a hefty penalty. 

Non-emergency assistance - 1 hour
Riders in a non-emergancy situation are allowed to receive assistance from medical or event teams but they receive a 1 hour penalty for doing so. 

Vehicle carry-forward - 3 hours
Riders seeking non-emergancy assistance may need to be transferred to the nearest Urtuu. If that Urtuu is ahead of them, the rider will incur a 3 hour penalty for not completing the leg. This is in addition to the hour for non-emergancy assistance. Most commonly incurred because the rider has lost their horse or is unable to persuade their horse to ride on. 

Enforced hold (non-penalty) - variable
Riders who are visibly exhausted and pose a risk to the welfare of their horses may be held at the urtuu by any member of the Derby team: vets, medical, referees or herders. This is not a penalty, and will not be rolled up to be served at the 'penalty urtuus', but an enforced hold, to be served immediately.

Photo by Richard Dunwoody for Mongol Derby 2016


The Race and Adventure Categories

The first ten riders across the finish line get a finish placement. Once the top ten riders are past the second penalty urtuu, they become the Race Class. For the front runners riding at a competitive pace, the time penalty system remains in place, and penalties must be served immediately at the station that they are incurred, or for Urtuu 27, added to their finish time. 

The rest of the field still in the race is assigned into Adventure Class. They will not receive a numbered placing at the finish line but be categorised by the day that they complete the course.

For Adventure Class, the penalty system is suspended. They can now request assistance from the event teams for 'free' if they need it. Negligent or abusive riding will be awarded a simple yellow card (warning) or red card (disqualification) rather than a 2 hour veterinary penalty.  Similarly, any kind of misconduct (misuse of trackers, riding at night) will be penalised with yellow and red cards.

We expect this cut-off to occur around Day 5 of the Mongol Derby. 

Photo by Richard Dunwoody for Mongol Derby 2016


The Mongol Derby Course is open 4th-14th August 2016
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