Mongol Derby sponsor Prometheus Medics Race Diary – Day 9

Written by Prometheus Medical’s Dr Chris Abbott

Types of Fun

As the heat of the sun begins to take hold on the steppe this morning, a group of 8 of the remaining 13 riders peel themselves out of their improvised beds and struggle onto their horses at Urtuu 22, knowing that they (only) have 120km left until the Finish Camp.

There, waiting for their exhausted bodies, sits a small luxury campsite, holding the promise of a hot shower, food-that-isn’t-mutton, vodka, and a bed that isn’t a hard floor of an overcrowded ger. Seeing these riders, all experienced equestrians used to the physical stresses and strains of long days in the saddle, overcome the little voice inside their heads telling them not to go on, to get a Land Cruiser to the finish, I am reminded of an excellent article in Alpinist magazine a couple of years ago defining the different types of fun.


Type 1 Fun

This is the kind of fun that is actually fun whilst doing the activity – e.g. riding a roller-coaster (for most people), fine dining in an expensive restaurant, going out to a party, riding at speed on a fine horse through the Mongolian steppe in beautiful weather.

Type 2 Fun

This is the kind of fun that was certainly not fun (for most people) during the activity, but in retrospect, once the rose-tinted eyewear has been donned, it was tremendously enjoyable – e.g. running that much-anticipated once-in-a-lifetime marathon, climbing a particularly difficult (physically or emotionally) mountain, training hard for a particular event, or, in this instance, getting lost whilst riding a reluctant nag through the driving rain in Mongolia.

Type 3 Fun

This is the kind of fun that was not even remotely fun whilst doing the activity, and resists changing to being considered fun even when reminiscing several years down the line – type 3 fun should never be repeated! Surviving a plane crash would be a good example of type three fun. Another more relevant example would be suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting whilst riding the world’s longest horse race….

The magic (and challenge) of The Mongol Derby is that it contains varying degrees of each type of fun – hopefully all riders will have had some moments of type 1 fun during the past 9 days, they have certainly had plenty of type 2 fun (as the tears, tantrums, curses, and saddle sores will attest to), and doubtless there will have been some type 3 fun thrown in for good measure.

Every rider will have had their own personal demons to confront, and each their own ways to mitigate that aforementioned little voice that will doubtless have been present during the long days in the saddle.

As the medical team we are extremely pleased that there have (touching wood whilst typing) been no serious physical injuries thus far, and our time out here has been focused on primary care issues.

With every remaining rider within a day of the Finish Camp, we are keeping our fingers crossed that they all make it there safe and sound, where we will be waiting with lotions and potions to cure all those ailments that have been consciously suppressed since starting out 1000 kilometres ago. And a well earned glass of Chinggis Gold vodka!

Follow the Prometheus Medical team on Twitter: @PrometheusMed or find out more about everything they do on their website.