Mongol Derby 2016 - The Course in Brief

The Mongol Derby is the world's longest and toughest horse race and the 2016 edition is the longest yet. The 1008km course recreates Chinggis Khaan's legendary postal system, as riders race across the Mongolia, changing horses at each of the 27 Urtuu's along the way. For the next 10 days our field of 41 riders will live with the herders or camp under the stars as they race to the finish line. The first, will be crowned Mongol Derby champion.

The Mongol Derby course has never been more varied. This is the breakdown of what they'll be facing: 

Riders at the beginning of the course will be met with some beautiful sand dunes, their horses treated to abundant water and easy-to-navigate terrain. Around Urtuu 3 the landscape will turn to scrub and stony tracks, unless they find themselves by the river, where it will be rather boggy. 

After Urtuu 4 the course heads north into an open sandy valley with small lakes and a view of the vast steppe. The journey from Urtuu 6 will have less of a view but there are some stunning horses to be claimed if the riders can pick them out of the line-up.

Mongol Derby Urtuu 9 might be mistaken for a Mediterranean vista, but for the spectacular rock formations. This section will be a slow one for the riders, but an excellent moment to appreciate the view. 

It'll flatten out again after Urtuu 13 with several small lakes for water and a river to follow for easy navigation. Urtuu 15 onwards will be slightly undulating. Riders will have a choice between going over the pass, and enjoying the view of steep forested hills or staying in the valley for an unspectacular but speedy ride. 

Urtuu 17 is the most westerly point, which will require two road crossings to get past. A sparsely populated area, the horses here have been delivered from 400kms away for their Derby stint.  

From Urtuu 18 the valleys get steeper and the descent into Urtuu 19 is the toughest on the course with lots of stony sections. Once they are through it, the riders will be rewarded by the forested pass coming into Urtuu 20 and the chance of a gallop after Urtuu 22. 

The biggest obstacle before Urtuu 23 is crossing the Selenge river. Too fast flowing to attempt a swim, but riders can enjoy the cantering tracks on the approach to the bridge. 

The land until Urtuu 25 will be a chance to make ground before some incredible country at Urtuu 26. After this, a wooded pass to the finish line - a nice runway for a final sprint - if they've got it in them. 

The Mongol Derby launches Thursday 4th August. 

We'll be writing daily updates with the highlights from the field.