It's been one of the hottest days ever on the Mongol Derby with temperatures around 37c for most of the day. Quite a few of the riders have been treated for heat-stroke and exhaustion but impressively we've had no retirements. That's not to say it's been an easy day though.
All riders who overnighted on the steppe found their horses where they found them and delivered them to the next stations well fed and watered.
There have been a few spills today though. Bruce Chernoff (BCH) had a crunching fall about 10 km after HS4. After being dragged behind his horse for a while he lost it and pressed the 'help' button on his tracker for assistance to recover it. He was saved the further pain of a penalty though as he recovered the horse himself before assistance arrived.
Between HS3 & 4 Simon Pearse (SP) was bucked rodeo-style and was also dragged behind his mount, this time for considerably further, picking up a few lacerations in the process. It didn't slow him though and he's fought on admirably to stay with the main pack. Tonight they're all at HS7 where he'll get an abundance of help from the medics and empathy from the other riders.
Not so lucky was Iain Hayter (IH) who was found horseless and disorientated on the way to station 5. He needed to take a penalty for a carry forward but was fortunate that his kit & horse were later recovered.
A 1 hour penalty went to Liz Brown (LB) who called for assistance to help her find a tracker lost after a chase from wild dogs. It looks like it was unrecoverable which will keep her in company for the rest of the race. Currently she has Paddy Wood (PW) acting as her navigator.
Thomas Ellingsen (TE) has also had a tough day. He has some serious chafing around his nether regions and was reported to be riding commando for much of the day (with his family jewels gaffa taped out of harms way). He's under the stars tonight between HS6 & 7 presumably to air his wounds in private. He wont be alone though he's chosen a mosquito infested valley for his convalescence which might just make the matter worse.
Devan Horn is perhaps unsurprisingly still in the lead. She did survive a brief scare though after riding in to HS7 sick with heatstroke and dehydration. She remained there for nearly an hour needing to recover. The decision to ride on in the evening at all was met with surprise and admiration by the crew at the Urtuu, but the perceived threat of William Graham on the horizon seemed to spur her on. He's camping just 10 km behind her.
Devan continues to be cheered on by the locals who admire her speed and ability. She has been training with 2010 champion Justin Nelzen, who seems to be advising her the risky strategy of riding with as little food and water as possible. While a great way of travelling light and saving time it presents the risk of exhaustion. On finishing in 2012 Devan was bedridden for nearly two days with dehydration so she'll need to be careful.
The whole of the chasing pack are reported to be riding strong and are all still in contention. They will be be keeping a close eye on the progress of the leaders and will be ready to catch them at the slightest slip up.
The Steppe Sisters team of Sian Dyson (SD) & Sophie Wilford (SWL) are still riding apart after separating yesterday. Sian is currently with Catherine Coward (CC) and Catherine Gudde (CG) and Sophie is with Jensie Engisch (JE) and Alexander Dobres (AD).
*The eagle eyed amongst you will notice that these photos are a day out of date. There are huge issues with the satellite communications over Mongolia and we're struggling to get images back.
Derby chief Katy will be reporting though the race, live on Twitter: @MongolDerbyLive
The Full List of Riders can be found over on the Mongol Derby website.
Applications for 2016 are open. If you prefer to participate than spectate you can apply here.