Mongol Derby sponsors Prometheus Medics Diary – Race Day 1

The Prometheus Medics, the Mongol Derby medical back up team

The Prometheus Medics, the Mongol Derby medical back up team

And they’re off! As the riders woke early this Sunday morning they were all aware of the definite feeling of nervous anticipation hanging over the Start Line Urtuu (Horse Station). Would all thirty riders get  across the start line? That would be a first in Mongol Derby history. Who would lead after  the first 40km leg to Urtuu 1? What tactics should they employ – is this a race for the tortoise or for the Duracell hare?

There had already been a casualty the night before – a young rider, inspired by the  locally brewed Chiggis Khan vodka, decided to pit himself against one of the Mongolian  drivers (the driver of Chris & Deb’s vehicle as it happens) in a traditional Mongolian wrestling match. It was over before it started – within seconds the rider had been planted firmly and unceremoniously onto the point of his shoulder, resulting in an impressive  deformity of his acromio clavicular joint.

After an assessment by Chris, who felt that there were no clinical signs of a fracture to the clavicle / collar bone, and a discussion with the  rider, it was decided that he should remain at the Start Urtuu, broad-arm sling immobilise  the shoulder, and start pain-killers. At a review on Sunday morning the rider was  determined to start the race, and it was felt that given the nature of the injury, there were  no medical reasons that he should not cross the start line with the rest of the field.

At the start line – two flags planted in the ground in the wide expanse of the steppe –  the mounted riders circled in 30 degree heat whilst receiving a blessing from a traditionally  attired Mongolian Buddhist monk. The heat proved too much for one rider, and he fell from  his horse (sustaining no injuries) before the start of the race – this necessitated the medical  team to evacuate him from the centre of a swirling mass of semi-wild Mongolian horses,  each of whom were raring to race.

Needless to say this was a rapid evacuation – however  this didn’t stop the Lead Vet, Harry, sustaining a nasty kick from one of these beasts. We  moved the casualty into the shade (no easy feat in this tree-less landscape) – his racing heart and low blood pressure made the diagnosis of dehydration relatively straightforward, and James Hubbard – operating in full paramedic mode – quickly inserted a large cannula  and started intravenous fluids.

Within the hour he was back on his feet, feeling  considerably better, and crossed the line an hour after the others had raced off into the  distance. All riders across the line, and (mostly) in one piece!

A special mention to Paddy Wood, an ex-professional jockey, and one of the riders  in this year’s Mongol Derby, who honoured his agreement to ride with today’s casualty,  and waited for him to recover at the start line, rather than race across it with the others. A  true gent. The remainder of the day was spent speeding around the Mongolian steppe faster  than the speed-of-a-thousand-speedy-things – our driver, Baska, has little time for  dawdling!

His enthusiasm meant that we sped ahead of the field to the point at which he  had to be asked to turn around and go back a bit – not much point in increasing the  response time to SOS calls unnecessarily. We hammered around for most of the day,  ending up at Urtuu 2, where this entry finds me sat in a cosy tent, having enjoyed this  evenings fare of indeterminate (though likely mutton) stew. All riders safe and accounted  for, with only one ‘help’ call today from some very hot riders who were desperate for a  water re-supply. Two riders are wild camping tonight on the steppe, with the majority of the  others hunkered down at Urtuu 2.

Early start to be ready to cover riders who can start racing from 07h00.