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Joint Winners for World’s Toughest Horse Race

Photo credit: Julian Herbert 


After six days of riding, Ed Fernon of Australia and Barry Armitage of South Africa have crossed the finish line to become joint winners of the 2017 Mongol Derby.

The Mongol Derby is down in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest and toughest horse race. This year, 41 men and women from around the world took on the challenge. They are racing 1,000km across Mongolia, recreating the ancient horse messenger system of Chinggis Khaan. They travel up to 160km a day, navigating themselves and changing horses every 40km. The riders either camp or stay with the local herders during the night.

The horses they ride are semi-wild and native to Mongolia. The race organisers describe them as ‘diminutive, sturdy, fearless, wild and unbelievably tough’. These animals are very similar to those that Chinggis Khaan used nearly eight hundred years ago and are revered in the local culture. Around 1,400 of these horses are selected from local herding families and breeders in the months leading up to the Derby. They all undergo a training program to get ready for the race and the riders have to return them in prime condition.

This is the 9th year the Derby has been held and it’s the second time two champions have been crowned. Ed Fernon competed for Australia in the 2012 Olympics and already had a 1,000km ride under his belt. Barry Armitage is a Mongol Derby veteran, having competed twice before. After a gruelling ride in harsh weather conditions, the two riders decided to cross the line together. Not far behind them was Jakkie Mellet of South Africa who came in to take third place.

Follow the official Mongol Derby twitter account for updates

14 riders from the UK stepped up to the mark this year, including husband and wife Neil Goldie-Scott and Clare Salmon. Unfortunately the couple had to call off their attempt to complete the course after Clare injured her ankle.

Other competitors include an ostrich rider, a psychologist, a private investigator and a dog sledder. The organisers expect the race to take around 10 days and you can follow the progress of the race on The Adventurists website.