Home Current News News Archive Shop/Advertise Ridecamp Classified Events Learn/AERC
Endurance.Net Home 2022 Mongol Derby

Official Event Website

The World's Longest, Toughest Horse Race

2019 Mongol Derby

2018 Mongol Derby

2017 Mongol Derby

2016 Mongol Derby

2015 Mongol Derby

2014 Mongol Derby

2013 Mongol Derby

2011 Mongol Derby

Home || Official Website - Follow along!

2022 Mongol Derby: the world's toughest horse race


American and South African win world’s toughest horse race

Shari Thompson photo

July 31 2022

After a two year absence, the world’s longest and toughest horse race, The Mongol Derby, has been thundering across Mongolia’s steppe for the last eight days. In one of the closest ever races, an American and South African rode in joint winners yesterday.

Based on the ancient horse messenger system used by Genghis Khan, in a country where the horse is king, at 1000km the Derby is the toughest test on the planet for equestrian endurance riders. Whilst horses are changed roughly every 35km, at checkpoints strung out throughout the country, riders must endure being in the saddle for up to 200km a day and face the challenges of riding over twenty-eight different semi-wild horses, with varying temperaments and bucking abilities, the inevitable falls and mishaps that happen along the way and navigating through challenging terrain, from giant sand dunes to freezing mountain passes.

After the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 editions, the twelfth Mongol Derby kicked off on the 23rd of July and looked set to be one of the most fiercely contested races to date, with 46 riders, from ten different nations, competing for the prestigious win.

Day one saw young Kiwi pair, Sam Edney and Annie Hackett, take an early lead, as other racers suffered navigational errors and falls. By the end of day two riders had found their groove, and four had caught the Kiwis, as six riders bunked down together at station six - the race is made up of twenty eight stations, strung out along the route. Riders aim to be at one by the end of the riding day, but can opt to, or unintentionally, wild camp or try and find a friendly Mongolian family with space in a ger.

By day three riders were pulling out of the race with bruised and battered bodies (some chose to ride on with broken bones) whilst others served time penalties for riding past cut-off times the night before. The names changed, but the end of the day still saw six riders neck and neck, amongst them experienced riders Irishman Patrick Heffron and Brit Chris Walker.

The pair’s navigational nous saw them take a slender, but clear, lead on day four as the race hit some serious mountainous terrain and the weather deteriorated to ‘cold, wet and miserable’ - a sudden change for a field up until now more concerned with getting enough water on board than shaking it off.

Day five and the pair kept their lead, just, as they chose to wild camp only 18 minutes ahead of a chasing pack of seven, including American Diedre Griffith and South African Willemein Jooste. Patrick and Chris rode out front through days six and seven, but never with enough of a lead to relax and, with just a few hours riding left, on the final day (the morning of the 30th), Diedre and Willemein passed them - a perfect example of how tackling the Derby as a team can carry you a long way (sharing navigation, helping each other out of scrapes and generally keeping up moral). They crossed the finish line together to win the toughest horse race on the planet, leaving Chris and Patrick to finish just behind to take joint third.

Diedre, 34 from Jackson Hole, became the second person from Wyonming to win the race in a row, after Bob Long in 2019 (whom she spoke to before the race) and made an incredible recovery during the race, after being right at the back at the end of Day One. Willemien Jooste, 38 from Philipstown, became the fifth South African to cross the finish line in first place.

Comments from the finish line:

Diedre Griffith on being at the back of the race on Day One

“That was demoralizing. I decided with fellow rider Lena Haug at start camp that we would head the straightest route. We underestimated the elevation and so it look us a long time to reach station 1. That was one of my best horses of the Derby and it’s a bit of a shame I didn’t get to race him against the front of the pack. Overall though, I think it was a blessing as I wasn’t then running with the front runners and pushing my horses out of competitiveness. My strategy never changed throughout the whole race: Race my race & ride the horse I’m on.”

Overtaking the leaders right at the end of the race was a stand-out moment for her

“The high was the last day at HS 27 where we made a great nav choice and had an opening to overtake the front runners we’d been chasing for so many days.”

| Whilst motivations for taking part on the Derby included inspiring her children,

“This race has always piqued my interest as an epic challenge both mentally and physically. Travelling horseback I think is the best way to see a new country, and getting to interact with the locals in such a horse-oriented culture was really special. One of my main reasons for competing in this race is to show my girls (5 & 6 yrs old) that they should dream big, and they can achieve anything they set their minds to with hard work & determination.”

and raising funds for the hospital in Jackson

“I raised money for the hospital in Jackson, WY to begin a mental wellness program for new parents. This helps screen new parents for post-partum depression and connect them to subsidised mental health care. This was very important to me after I struggled with PPD after having both my daughters. We raised over $100,000 and the program launched in March 2022!”

Willemien Jooste also had tough moments in the race,

“It’s very tough, no doubt about it. It’s getting up every day and pushing on no matter the heat or cold or tiredness. It was a constant mental game telling yourself to stay positive, smile no matter how tired you are and keep going.”

Whilst the Mongolian culture and teaming up with Diedre were highlights for her

“My high was teaming up with Deidre. We got along great and sharing the load made it so much lighter work. We shared jokes and kept each other motivated to keep going. It helped when the going got tough to share the moment and get over it and smile at what you have already achieved by just being where we were.

Our last night with a family in a valley was the best, they were extremely friendly and showed and shared every part of their lifestyle with us. The husband even got up early the next morning to help us saddle our horses and see us safely on the road. To watch a day in the life of a Nomadic Mongolian family is a rare experience. I am honoured to have been allowed to see and experience it to the full.”

On chasing down the leading pair of Patrick Heffron and Chris Walker, Willemien commented:

“It is always better to be the hunter than the hunted. We tried not to think about it too much though. We rather tried to focus on our own race. We would select good horses that would keep up with each other and looked like athletes. This usually worked well and we would have one in front of the other if needed to keep each other motivated and keep up the pace. Deidre would keep an eye on the navigation and select the best route to the next horse station- preferring to select the best route for the horses and to spare as much energy as posssible whilst still setting a good pace. We kept our focus on ‘steady but consistant’, and had two basic motivations to keep us going:

“How do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite” and “don’t sit down””
For more details on the race, which is run by British company The Adventurists, visit

August 1
An Irishman came third in the one of the most gruelling horse riding events in the world known as the Mongol Derby

South African is joint winner of world's 'longest and toughest horse race'

Conversations at the Finish Line: Your 2022 Mongol Derby Winners!

Mongol Derby 2022: Brit pipped to the post in the world’s toughest horse races


July 30
You’re Missing Out on These Hilariously Insane Missives from the 2022 Mongol Derby Blogs

July Mongol Derby Day 9: Coming in hot

Equestrianists.com - Full Story

Holly Conyers
31st July 2022

The podium positions may have been decided yesterday, but Day 9 of the July 2022 Mongol Derby brought plenty more action and emotional scenes as the rest of the field continued to bomb across the steppe towards their goal. On another summer sizzler, 11 more incredible riders made it across the finish line, with the rest of the field inbound tomorrow.

Riding hours were extended until 20:00, in order to try and allow as many knackered, creaking bodies to get themselves across the finish line and into a hot shower sooner rather than later. We would like to say this is solely for their benefit, but we also have the crew coming into close contact with riders to think about, now that riders are generally smelt before they are spied coming into horse stations...

Read more here:

July Mongol Derby Day 8: Here come the girls


Holly Conyers
30th July 2022

Day 8 of the July 2022 Mongol Derby will go down as one of the most thrilling in Derby history. In scenes of unbelievable drama that went right down to the wire, Deirdre Griffith (DGR) and Willemien Jooste (WJO) held their nerve and rode a tactical blinder to snatch victory from right under the noses of Chris Walker (CWA) and Patrick Heffron (PHE), who had been clinging onto the lead since Day 4. Timing their move to perfection, the ladies, who had been snapping at the erstwhile leaders’ hocks for days, overtook them at HS27, the second last horse station before the finish line. A few hours of almost unbearable tension later, and they crossed the line holding hands to take joint first place. A stunning performance by two outstanding horsewomen and athletes. We salute you, ladies. Read on for the blow-by-blow account of how the day’s drama unfolded...

Read more at:

July Mongol Derby Day 7: Battle of the sexes

Equestrianists.com - Full Story

Holly Conyers
29th July 2022

Day 7 draws to an end on the July 2022 Mongol Derby, and the tension has ratcheted up a notch at the head of the race. Overnight leaders Chris Walker (CWA) and Patrick Heffron (PHE) have ridden their pants off today to cling onto their advantage by a nose, camped at HS25. Still tantalisingly close behind them but just out of reach remain Deirdre Griffith (DGR), Willemien Jooste (WJO) and Tiffany Atteberry (ATA), riding hard and fast to reach a campsite between HS23 and HS25. Can the gents cling on until the finish line, just three horse stations away, or do the girls still have enough time to run them down?

Read more at:

July Mongol Derby Day 6: Run for the hills

Equestrianists.com - Full Story

Holly Conyers
29th July 2022

Day 6 of the July 2022 Mongol Derby, and the tension is ratcheting up a notch. Chris Walker (CWA) and Patrick Heffron (PHE) are clinging on to their lead by a nose, having made it into HS20 this evening. Deirdre Griffith (DRG), Tiffany Atteberry (TAT) and Willemien Jooste (WJO) are camped between HS19 and HS20, holding off the rest of the front runners right behind them at HS19. Will CWA and PHE keep their cool to shake off the ladies doggedly stalking them across the steppe, or crumble under the pressure? It’s all to play for as we enter the final stages of the Derby, with just eight horse stations left between the leaders and the finish line. But this is no cake walk: the riders have hit the mountains, throwing some major spanners in the works...

Read more here:

Mongolia: World’s Longest and Toughest Horse Race Returns

July 27 2022
Daniel at New Chapter Marketing

After a two year absence, the world’s longest and toughest horse race, The Mongol Derby, is back with a bang, with two races running back to back.

Based on the ancient horse messenger system used by Genghis Khan, in a country where the horse is king, at 1000km the Derby is the toughest test on the planet for equestrian endurance riders. Whilst horses are changed roughly every 35km, at checkpoints strung out throughout the country, riders must endure being in the saddle for up to 200km a day and face the challenges of riding over twenty-eight different semi-wild horses, with varying temperaments and bucking abilities, the inevitable falls and mishaps that happen along the way and navigating through challenging terrain, from giant sand dunes to freezing mountain passes.

After the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 editions, the twelfth Mongol Derby kicked off on the 23 rd of July and looks set to be one of the most fiercely contested races to date, currently proving too close to call, with no clear breakaways formed.

Riders from ten nations are competing for the prestigious win, with young Kiwi pair, Sam Edney and Annie Hackett, having taken an early lead, before age and experience took over in the form of Irishman Patrick Heffron and Brit Chris Walker. Leading the way at the end of day four, both are experienced riders in multiple disciplines, but with several days riding left anything could happen and a strong American and Australian contingent are breathing down their necks.

Follow the race live at https://equestrianists.com/mongol-derby

The second edition of the Mongol Derby kicks off on the 10 th of August

July Mongol Derby Day 5: Hump day

Equestrianists.com - Full Story

Holly Conyers
27th July 2022

The brave yet bonkers riders of the July 2022 Mongol Derby have broken the back of the beast. They are over hump day, with five of the maximum 10 riding days behind them. And what a day it was: a beautiful, clear morning heated up into a warm afternoon, with just a smattering of refreshing showers as riders sped through lush, verdant valleys and negotiated sandy tracks. The going was good and the horses pleasantly co-operative, but our leaders have struggled to extend their lead from the tenacious chasing pack. Chris Walker (CWA) and Patrick Heffron (PHE) remain out in front after seizing the lead last night, but they have a fragile 18 minute advantage on the seven gritty riders stubbornly clinging onto their tails, camped just behind them at HS16.

Race HQ elected to extend riding hours by an extra 60 minutes until 19:00 today in light of the pleasant weather, to give riders more time to get flying through the course. Bringing up the rear of the field with irresistible good cheer, Alexa Towersey (ATO), Eleanor Aitken (EAI), Tobias Endress (TEN), Marianne Finch (MFI), Sara Beck (SBE) and Brandy Dobbyn (BDO) were allowed an additional hour to be accounted for in the final totting up of riding times, in order to bunch the field back together a little more...

Read more at:

July Mongol Derby Day 4: The eye of the storm

Equestrianists.com - Full Story

Holly Conyers
27th July 2022

Four days into the July 2022 Mongol Derby and we have our first major shake-up of the leaderboard since our 46 riders blasted off the start line: Annie Hackett (AHA) and Sam Edney (SED) have fallen off the pace for the first time, as we come up against some mountainous terrain. There is a new double act in town. Chris Walker (CWA) and Patrick Heffron (PHE) have ridden a blinder to launch themselves clear of the rest of the field, camped roughly halfway between HS12 and HS13. But they’re not out of the woods yet, closely stalked by a pack of three very determined riders snapping at their hooves.

Deirdre Griffith’s (DGR) calculated early morning horse selection has clearly paid off. Riding alongside Sean McBride (SMC) and Willemien Jooste (WJO) since they hoofed it out of their campsite between HS5 and HS6 yesterday morning, the group have pulled off something of a miracle to propel themselves almost to the head of the race. Camped just outside HS12, they have raced through a formidable four horse stations in just one day, having set off this morning from a campsite between HS8 and HS9...

Read more here:

July Mongol Derby Day 3: Golden hour

Equestrianists.com - Full Story

Holly Conyers
25th July 2022

Day 3 of the July 2022 Mongol Derby, and the drama just keeps coming. Six riders remain locked in battle for the lead at the head of the race, but there’s been a change in the line-up since yesterday: Chris Walker (CWA) managed to catch up to the leaders to join their camp at HS9, while Tyler Donaldson-Aitken (TDO) has dropped off the pace and finds himself camped somewhere between HS7 and HS8. We recount the day’s highs and lows below.

For the third day in a row, riders awoke to blazing sunshine on the steppe. Taking full advantage of permitted riding hours, Ashton Garner (AGA), Kristin Carpenter (KCA) and Morgan Kelly (MKE) bolted out of HS4 where they had spent the night at 07:00 on the dot. Michael Field (MFE), Claire Vile (CVI) and Lena Haug (LHA) were the first to depart HS5, leaving behind their 10 other campmates still busy wrangling their horses and wolfing down some breakfast. CWA, Deirdre Griffith (DGR), Sean McBride (SMC) and Willemien Jooste (WJO) were quick to hop onto their mounts this morning, making a punctual exit from their campsite somewhere between HS5 and HS6. Nancy O’Neill (NON) and Janet O’Neill (JON) were back in the saddle, leaving HS4 after NON’s sojourn to Ulaanbaatar hospital yesterday which left her unscathed but riding in Adventure Class...

Read more here:

July Mongol Derby Day 2: Who needs stirrups anyway?

Holly Conyers
25th July 2022

Daybreak on Day 2 of the July 2022 Mongol Derby was a sight for sore eyes (and even sorer behinds): bright sunshine, a cool breeze and wispy clouds. The perfect weather to cover some serious miles across the rolling steppe, stretching as far as the eye can see. By sundown, a hot afternoon had slowed the pace of the field, but the two leading riders from close of play on Day 1 would see their lead clawed back by the chasing pack: we now have six riders vying for the lead, camped together at HS6. The race is on.

At the head of the race this morning at HS3, Annie Hackett (AHA) and Sam Edney (SED) had no option but to sit out a late riding penalty from the previous evening, incurred by riding past 18:00 in order to reach shelter at HS3 rather than risk camping out in some serious rain. A sensible tactical decision last night, an agonising wait this morning watching the seconds tick by and praying the chasing pack didn’t appear on the horizon before they were released. They managed to make it out before their pursuers appeared, but how safe was their lead?...

Read more at:

July Mongol Derby Day 1: A family affair

Holly Conyers
23rd July 2022

The July 2022 Mongol Derby is officially underway. Day 1 has been a real rollercoaster. At close of play, with riding hours limited to between 07:00 and 18:00 local time, we have an early breakaway: Annie Hackett (AHA) and Sam Edney (SED) have set a blistering pace to rocket all the way to HS3. Riders have been treated to some of the most pristine green rolling hills and sunny, cool conditions Mongolia has to offer. Read on for all of the day’s notable events.

Before kick-off, riders lined up for their final weigh-in, this time for their riding kit. A strict 5kg limit resulted in emotional goodbyes to some treasured but stubbornly weighty snack items. The riders’ bridles were honoured with a traditional Mongolian blessing, before riders packed up and headed for the horse lines. Easier said than done for some: Eleanor Aitken’s (EAI) horse threw a bit of a tantrum when introduced to his saddle.

read more at:

July Mongol Derby Pre-Race: ‘Twas the night before kick-off...

Holly Conyers
23rd July 2022

Briefings are over, test rides are complete, saddlebags are packed and jockeys are quivering with excitement (and a touch of terror): today is crunch time for the riders of the July 2022 Mongol Derby. We are pleased to report that all have made it through start camp in one piece, and we have already enjoyed a hearty helping of thrills and spills.

Day 1 of start camp dawned bright and sunny. Fresh off the bus after successfully negotiating the weigh-in in Ulaanbaatar, riders were bounced into an introduction to the Mongolian horse led by horse manager and vet Sansar. A sudden hush fell over the assembled riders as Sansar sternly repeated, “Keep them tight, keep them neat, keep them tight, keep them neat!” while deftly demonstrating how to hobble and mount a Mongolian horse to minimise the risk of finding yourself swiftly back on the ground. As Tobias Endress (TEN) subsequently commented through a slightly nervous giggle while preparing to meet his first steed, even the Mongolians seem to be a little afraid of their horses…nothing wrong with maintaining a healthy respect for the equine, eh?

Read more at"

And so it begins..

by Outlaw Kate
21st July 2022

It’s been a long couple of years in the making but the Mongol Derby 2022 July edition hit the steppe with 46 riders from 10 different countries ready to take on the longest toughest horse race in the world.

It’s the adventure of a lifetime for these equestrianists; they have been hard at it preparing for the moment they strap themselves to a Mongolian horse and cannon off the start in search of that far-off finish line on the other side of the steppe.

But it’s not all saddles and stirrups and riding hell-bent-for leather: first there’s the introduction to rider training, the tech overview, and the obligatory weigh-in where the truth of training hits home. Each rider must weigh no more than 85kg dressed to ride and many a worried rider has stepped up to the scale wondering if they should have foregone that last croissant at breakfast.

more at: https://equestrianists.com/updates/and-so-it-begins/