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August 12, 2019

Category: Mongol Derby

It’s day six of the mighty 2019 Derby and all eyes are glued to screens as 70 year old Bob Long (RL), currently in first place, continues to eat up the miles enroute to the finish line. He could even cross the line tomorrow night (August 13) after seven days of brilliant riding. 

Every Derby is significant in its own right, but this year’s edition is especially captivating because at age 70, Bob could be the oldest competitor to actually finish the race let alone the oldest to win it all. This brings to mind a number of ponderings: What’s the average age of competitors in the Derby? Who was the oldest winner to date? The youngest? What age group is more likely on average to produce a winner or a finisher?

We turned these and other questions over to our Department of Ponderings and Statistical Fiddlings, and our expert Katy Willings to crunch up some numbers and spit out some palatable scientific truths for us to chew over. 

So let’s look at just how remarkable Bob is.

  • Total number of Derby entrants (including those who made it to start camp but not out on the course) from years 2009 through 2018:  338
  • Average age overall:  36
  • Mean age:  33
  • Oldest competitor:  71
  • Youngest competitor:  18
  • Oldest finisher:  64
  • Youngest finisher:  18
  • Oldest winner:  52
  • Youngest winner:  19
  • Average age of Derby winner:  28
  • Average age of riders placing in the top five:  33
  • Age group with largest percentage of riders: 58% of riders under age 35
  • Best represented age category:  25 – 30 
  • Absolute best performing age category: 25 – 30
  • Number of times the oldest rider has finished: 6/10
  • Number of times youngest rider has finished: 5/10

Analyzing the stats produces some interesting conclusions. When we look at the top fifty oldest and top fifty youngest riders across the years, we can conclude that in the last ten Derbies, of the oldest competitors, 56% have finished, 8% have placed in the top five, and 44% did not finish. Compare that to the youngest competitors where 64% finished, 22% placed in the top five, and 36% did not finish. 

So what do all these slightly boring numbers actually mean? It means that Bob could possibly screw up all our previous statistics. Thanks Bob. 

As a finisher and a potential winner, he is bucking all the numbers that point towards a winner emerging from the 25 – 30 age category, and is a whopping 43 years (or nearly two-and-a-half times) older than the average Derby winner.

It means that the law of averages means nothing when faced up to by a gentleman like Bob. When are you next in Vegas?