Day 2 of Mongol Derby pre-race training & launch celebrations

On the second day of pre-race training the riders took on an extended ride, practising their navigation skills and riding in the full kit they’ll be taking on the 1000km race. In the afternoon a 12km demonstration race was staged by the herding families to celebrate the Mongol Derby and on the final night at the start camp a feast and party was held. Tomorrow the world’s longest and toughest horse race begins…

Official race photographer Richard Dunwoody has filed more photos of the action and our field report was sent by the Prometheus Medics:

Devan Horn and Shelley Bates on the training ride, 2nd August 2013

Devan Horn and Shelley Bates on the training ride, 2nd August 2013

As I write todays entry, its hard to know where to begin, perhaps after reading the events of the day you’ll understand why.

All three of us awoke early and one by one went through our morning routines, a quiet stroll with the camera, and early morning shower, or, in Dr. Abbott’s case a dance around the ger!

The morning clinic was held in the dinning tent and as we are quickly learning, these riders know how to look after themselves and so far medical complaints and queries have been limited to a few minor ailments. Breakfast was served at 0830 and you sense the excitement as the riders prepared themselves for day two of rider training before the derby starts tomorrow.

The task for the riders on their second day was to choose their own horse, set their GPS and navigate to a pre-determined waypoint 6 kilometers away carrying their limited but essential 5kg allowance of kit and supplies. Upon their arrival they were met by a vet team and medic 1 which comprised of Deb, Dr. Chris, their driver and of course their much heavier allowance of medical supplies.

Chief Vet Harry McKerchar checks the heart rate of Mondi Kanyana’s horse at the half way point of the training ride, 2nd August 2013

Chief Vet Harry McKerchar checks the heart rate of Mondi Kanyana’s horse at the half way point of the training ride, 2nd August 2013

The riders were sent out in stages which allowed me some time with the riders still in camp to run through some basic first aid, assessment and immobilisation for which they were all very grateful.

Prometheus Medic James Hubbard gives medical advice to riders Anthony Ward-Thomas, Mondi Kanyana and Ctriona Paterson, 2nd August 2012

Prometheus Medic James Hubbard gives medical advice to riders Anthony Ward-Thomas, Mondi Kanyana and Ctriona Paterson, 2nd August 2012

Happily all riders returned safely after another great morning

Happily all riders returned safely after another great morning

Happily all riders returned safely after another great morning

After lunch, and a little down time all riders and crew met at the horse line for a race organised by the herders. It began with a traditional parade of the riders on their horses before they set off for the start line for what promised to be an exciting race. What is so special about a horse race I hear you ask? all the riders were under the age of 10, most rode bareback with almost unbelievable skill and determination.

Start of the nadaam, 3rd August 2013

Start of the nadaam, 3rd August 2013

Neck and neck after 12km in the horserace, 2nd August 2013. The winner is on the left.

Neck and neck after 12km in the horserace, 2nd August 2013. The winner is on the left.

A young girl rider in the 12km horserace, 2nd August 2013

A young girl rider in the 12km horserace, 2nd August 2013

The evening was kicked off by another great feast, expertly prepared by the Mongolian cooks and was followed by another Mongolian tradition of passing around of a bowl of fermented mare’s milk called airag, taking it in turns to toast the derby.

As I finish writing, looking out over the steppe, the official launch festivities continue with some truly inspirational traditional music, dancing and displays of mind boggling gymnastics.

The riders are eager, we are ready and tomorrow it begins.

The Mongol Derby riders make a presentation of a goody bag to the local children, 2nd August 2013

The Mongol Derby riders make a presentation of a goody bag to the local children, 2nd August 2013