Mongol Derby Race Report: Day 1
August 10, 2018
Day one was a cracker. 44 riders set off from the start; 44 riders finished the day’s racing. Success. Not everyone was looking quite so chipper at the close of play, though, having ridden hard through epic flooding and storms…DH rode brilliantly – the crew can’t fault her. Her horses are in great shape and she bedded down for the night just short of urtuu 5 with a local family. However. Reports in from the horse stations suggest she paid a high price for her blistering start – extremely quick turnarounds, very little food eaten… it’s hard not to be reminded of her 2015 race, when she was removed from (the front of) the field dehydrated and vomiting. Having said that, it’s also hard not to be impressed. You can’t discount Devan.
AC & AN stopped at urtuu 4, having chased DH hard all day. They are also riding strongly and have the distinct advantage of riding in a well-matched team. Horses are herd animals, they like company and a pair of good riders, picking horses who go well together can do very well indeed. AN seems determined, AC very zen. An impressive combination.
With AC & AN at urtuu 4 are a number of quiet movers. Quiet, because HQ heard little about them, movers because four stations in a day is very good going. AL – all we saw was of him thanking a herder for an excellent horse – the dream Derby participant. CH, the Kiwi with the amazing braids? Nope, heard nothing until she popped up here. Ditto CR, who describes herself as “easygoing but competitive” – again, a dream Derby rider. KO, the commercial fishing captain from Alaska, clearly tough as. EAL is up there, proving HQ right – single parents can do anything and everything all at once. TTM, another Kiwi – strong showing for NZ on day 1.
A few kilometres before urtuu 4, a small bunch of brave riders camped out – MT, MS, JP, JM, SN and VA. Looking at the weather, the advantage of having got so far out of urtuu 3 has to be offset against the very wet conditions and what will probably prove to have been a very uncomfortable night. VA in particular was not feeling well at all. SN had a great day – the youngest competitor on the field (18), he is riding in borrowed kit after his bags were lost en route to UB and today he rolled with his horse, but we hear both got straight back up and galloped off. Very impressive. MT is charming all and sundry in his blue deel – Mongolians are rightly proud of their national dress & love to see riders in it. Respecting the owners of the horses is a good idea as well as good manners – no-one makes families help out and there is no obligation on them to go above & beyond, even though they do every year. We think MT got lost with WG in between urtuu 2 and 3; they were following JM. Not sure why, seeing as JM doesn’t have a GPS. MT & JM have done extremely well to get this far after such a significant detour. No reports in on JM’s search for a wife. HQ is following closely.
Everyone else, bar one, slept at urtuu 3 last night. Staying at urtuus rather than camping out is by far the better option – it guarantees you a comfortable, dry bed, good company, a family to cook for you and lots of people to generally keep an eye on your welfare. WG is here, after taking the scenic route with MT & JM between urtuus 2 and 3. JA, RA, EA & HB are all here together. Considering JA & RA effectively sat two two-hour penalties today (one each, but they waited for each other), the Archibald-Bell clan may yet prove to be real contenders. With an extra four hours to ride tomorrow they could ride 4/5 urtuus instead of the 3 they rode today. SA also reached this station, having accepted a carry forward and struggling with a painful ankle. GR is here with the pack – she was bucked off between urtuus 2 and 3. Medics report no visible signs of injury, but she will make a call tomorrow on whether she continues.
Very honourable mention goes to TB, camping out between urtuus 2 and 3. She refused a carry forward, determined to ride on and the grit and determination required to push on after such a hard day and a long way back in the field is considerable. Bloody well done TB.