Byeronie Epstein Wins the 2015 Mongol Derby

Derby champ Byeronie (L) with 2nd place Elise 

South African, Byeronie Epstein has just won the Mongol Derby in spectacular fashion. Beginning the day 5 stations from the finish it looked like the race would certainly go into the 8th Day. Byeronie and Elise Poitrinal had other ideas though and reaching HS 27 with less than 3 hours until the course closed reached the decision to ride on.

Given that the changeover would take half an hour this was a brave tactic; arriving at the finish line half an hour after the course closes would give them a 3 hour penalty. Even if they finished in time, presenting a horse with heart rate over 56 bpm after an hour would cost them a penalty too.

Byeronie picked a spectacular horse from the last Urtuu though which carried her much of the stage at 24 kph, meaning a later riding penalty was never a question. She couldn't have chosen better horse, which boasted an unrivaled 21 Nadaam medals (top 5 finishes in seasonal equine festivals).

The horse delivered her to the finish just 30 seconds before Elise but it's heart rate stabilised within just 15 minutes. Our head vet Helen declaring it has the strongest heart she'd ever heard "This horse is a freak; a Mongolian Secretariat. No wonder Elise's horse looks more tired". 

Epstein rode her luck in the morning when she fell off her horse and was only reunited with it when Ben Wilks, Maxim Van Lierde and Michele Tanaka stopped to help her.

Byeronie is now the third South African champion after Charles Van Wyk (joint winner in 2009) & Craig Egberink (2011). She is also the third lady winner after Sam Jones and Lara Palmer in 2014 & 2013.

It’s quite surreal at the moment, I’m relieved and excited. I’m glad the training has paid off, I’ve had a phenomenal time, it was a great adventure. I’ve aches and pains all over my body, on day 3 I blew out my left knee, since then I’ve been trying to strap it up and have been going through a lot of pain, but it’s been worth it.
— Byeronie Epstein 2015 Derby Champion

Full interview and photos to follow.

The Full List of Riders can be found over on the Mongol Derby website. You can follow the live tracking of the rest of the race here, The Mongol Derby twitter is  here.

Applications for 2016 are open. If you prefer to participate than spectate you can apply here.