Winning the Mongol Derby - Interview

How does it feel to win the Mongol Derby?

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.

At what point did you think you might win?

It was very uncertain, it was constantly changing between the six of us who was in the lead. Then at the last checkpoint Elise and I galloped about half the last stretch, and until about 3 km before the finish I had no idea if I would win. I happened to have the faster horse, but Elise was a great competitor.

How do these horses compare with the ones back home?

These horses are phenomenal. I realised that back home we pamper our horses, we worry about what terrain we ride them on, but the derby horses are like machines, over any terrain, it's incredible, I did get a few which wouldn't move and the guys around me helped me, but I got some which were absolute rockstars. They would just go and not stop literally canter the whole way. They were incredible.

What was your best bit?

I got a great horse for the last leg, he was such a great athlete and we just cruised from that last checkpoint. I actually fell off today and I was so grateful I didn't hurt myself.

Did you ever wonder if you were going to make it?

On the 3rd day I was coming to the last checkpoint and I got a really lazy horse it just would not move, It was a really hot day and I was dehydrated, I had to get off, I was tired and my knee really hurt and I was struggling to walk. That night I didn't know how I was going to make the next few days, riding twelve and a half hours a day. The next morning I got up I told myself today was another day and I pushed myself and I managed to get through.

Did you ever think of giving up?

No, I just thought this was the most incredible once in a lifetime experience and you have to embrace every moment. You come here prepared to hurt and you have to push yourself. I don't want to look back and have regrets just because I was a bit sore at the time and didn't try a bit harder. With all the pain I went through I just thought it would be worth it in the end.

What were your tactics?

I tried to get the the Urtuus quickly, because it was hot I tried to drink lots of water. I tried to have meals throughout the day to save time too. Also I was riding with the leading group and we were all helping eachother out. I wanted to try my best and push myself. I wanted to race 4 Horse Stations a day, so each day I'd work out where I wanted to be by 8:30 and aim for that.

How did you train for the race?

I did a lot of gym and cardio from the beginning of the year to get my cardio up, then in June I went to Texas to train with the 2010 champ Justin Nelzen. I rode 3-5 horses a day for a month, and gym work and running.

How does this compare to what you've done before?

You can't compare this to anything I've done in the past, it's quite unique and it's blown me away. I didn't really have many expectations but everything from the race and the crew was great, the Mongolians were so hospitable, it's just been the most beautiful landscape. 

What are you most looking forward to now? 

A bath, I think I smell like a horse. I definitely smell like a horse. My hair has been in the same braid the whole time, I think I'm going to have to chop it all of It's just one big knot.

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.