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  • Writer's pictureEmmelia Potts

The Mongol Derby Day 10: A Sad Yet Triumphant Day.

Updated: Jun 4

All Photographs by Kathy Gabrielle, Shari Thompson and Bayarsaihan Ochiroo

The last related blog post from day 9 of the Mongol Derby can be found here.

Women planning her navigation on the final day
Final navigation planning
HS 27-28

“HAPPY LAST DAY!” Sounded around the Ger from exhausted yet excited riders emerging from their sleeping bags.

I lay groggy with my head still submerged under a pile of crispy, old, smelly clothes and sleeping kit, hip bones poking into the hard ground beneath me. I lay and listened to the other riders all beginning to tackle the day ahead, waiting for a wave of nausea from the day before to hit me.

Nothing came, I was depleted of any energy but I no longer felt sick.

“How are you feeling Potts?” Erin asked lying next to me, savouring our last morning on the steppe.

“Surprisingly okay, I think” I replied cautiously. “I think an early night and no food might have done the trick”

Given there was nothing left in my body to feed the food poisoning/Mongolia Belly and after I had sat up with no issues I suddenly found a new zest for life and for our final day.

“We've made it guys!” I shouted to Lucy, Alice and Erin “We've done it! It’s the final day”

Despite still having two horses left to ride and half a day of anything being able to go wrong I was thrilled that we had pretty much finished the world-famous Derby. I laid back down for another five minutes absorbing everything around me. The smells of the bodies, the rustling of the kit, the horses calling in the distance, the chatter of the Mongolian families, children shouting and laughing in the distance. On occasion, everything would stop and there would be the deafening silence I had come to love. The silence was going to be hugely missed.

On emerging from the Ger I was met with riders running excitedly running around. It was as if we had gone back to day one, everyone owning an anticipation for the day stretching out ahead. The mood in the camp was fantastic. There were around twenty riders here, it was most of the competitors that were left in the race. Everyone was in great spirits, ready to tackle the day ahead, ready to be crowned finishers of the Derby. I opted for avoiding the food Ger given the issues from the previous day and that I felt okay today, not wishing to risk anything on these last few hours. I therefore wandered around to the horse line to chuck my kit on the floor and watch the herders.

“What’s everyones aim today?” I heard Jessie ask as other riders gathered around the horse line with a few minutes to go.

“Enjoy our last day, have fun, laugh, and ride amazing horses” Lucy replied “No one cares if you come 11th instead of 20th in this race its all about going out with a bang and enjoying it now”

Most of the riders nodded in agreement, myself included. A large portion of us were going to try and ride together for as long as possible, aiming to have a great last day with hopefully no drama and lots of laughing. We all thought the pressure was now off and we could let our hair down a bit.

“Drugs?” Erin asked as she approached the horse line. I nodded and followed her over to the station medic.

“I'm going to miss these every morning,” I said to Erin. “We are going to wake up in a mess tomorrow after putting this pain at bay for so long”

“Not a today problem!” She replied.

Jabbed up, we wandered back to the horse line. People started picking out horses before 7 am and tacking up given there were so many of us at this station. There were some really spicey horses on the line this morning. Seb picked out a nutter who rodeoed around the group of riders without tack and then again with his tack on.

“He looks…exciting” Seb grinned

“It’s the last day, let's hope we’ve got a couple of corkers!” I smiled at Erin. “I would love for everyone to get fast horses and us all gallop together to the next station, imagine it!”

Riders getting ready for the final day of the mongol derby
Alice, Seb and I prepping for the morning ahead

It turns out my dream was realised. Erin, Lucy, Alice and I tacked up in a relaxed manner as Seb held onto his kite of a steed.  The mist of the morning was beginning to be burnt off by the promise of a stifling hot day as the sun rose from behind the hills, casting lone orange streaks on the ground beneath our horses' hooves.

I looked up from the colours cast along the floor to the people's faces around me. Everyone was smiling. Battered and bruised faces beamed through their injuries and tiredness whilst some riders hobbled around trying to walk in a straight line. We were a group of well and truly beaten-down humans who refused to give up and with that came a great sense of comradeship. We were all each others types of people, here for fun, adventure, and stories and not wanting them to be handed over easily. A huge weight seemed to have been lifted off everyone. I was going to milk the day for all it was worth, already willing it to never end.

7 am rolled around and the first fifteen or so riders took off into the mist, vanishing in a matter of seconds. Alice, Lucy, Seb, Erin and I hung back for a second to make sure everyone was okay and to make sure Lucy’s camera was working and then off we charged in hot pursuit of the other riders. Charging over the online incline on this leg was incredible as we reached halfway the mist broke and the sun burned a clearing in front of us to ride into down the valley, In front of us I could see the other riders a few hundred meters ahead the five of us charged on to catch everyone up.

The final day of the mongol derby
The final day of the Derby

Galloping down the valley we eventually caught up with the other riders and everyone began to accumulate together. Riders cantered upside each other grinning and laughing, people called to others, and there were also a few intergroup races between horses. All of the riders from the morning horse station riding down that valley together with be forever etched on my mind. It was incredible riding as one massive herd again, watching the horses in front of me charging down the beautiful, vast landscape ahead with the sun streaming onto them, not a cloud in sight, not a blemish on the land.

As the leg went on the heat grew yet the enthusiasm and enjoyment from the riders did not dissipate. A small sub-group played cowboys and Indians charging up and down the steppe on our mighty horses shooting each other with our hands.  It was the best feeling in the world and the sheer joy on everyone's faces was palpable. We had all been transported back to being children on ponies. No worries in the world, life was amazing. As our horses cantered down the valley paths my glee was overshadowed by another feeling. Pain.

“Erin!” I shouted back “How's the back?”

“Not good, I think we’ve been injected with water this morning, not drugs!” She grimaced. “Agreed!” I smiled, pain was not going to taint today.

After some more pew pewing and galloping around the steppe like lunatics, the herd began to split up according to horses capabilities and stamina. Mostly the herd stayed together but Alice’s horse was struggling 15km out.

“Guys I am going to stay with Alice” Lucy shouted, “he cant keep up with you all”

“We will wait for you at the next horse station” Erin and I yelled. “See you in a bit!”

As we all cantered across the grasslands at the base of the hillsides a couple of riders began to become fraught with the thought of not being the first to finish in the group that day, they rode off in front and the rest of us continued to play cowboys. Likewise, some riders horses began to tire and they dropped off out the back. Arther had been a great sport during the shooting but his horse decided enough was enough and that he wanted to slow down. As my little horse cantered past the slowing horses I noted that Erin was in the slowing pack. Despite not being in a rush I wanted to enjoy these last two horses for all their strengths and this little trooper was great fun. He would turn on a dime and was the most willing creature despite not being the quickest. I therefore kept tabs on Erin but ended up teaming up with Rollo for the remainder of the leg as his horse was well-matched pace-wise.

After a fun ride on a great little horse, Rollo and I began to encroach into the vicinity of the horse station, resulting in various conversations about Hitler being a swine and war. I am still unsure as to how the Derby inspired this conversation.

“three kilometres left” I informed Rollo, “That must be it over there, it's by the base of that hill”

Looking over my shoulder five riders to my left were not far from us. Erin and Reid were in that herd and were beginning to dismount to walk their horses in. Looking at the ground underfoot it was boggy and becoming rather deep. I was also so tired and in quite a lot of pain that I figured it best to stay mounted until the station. Just as I explained to Rollo that I intended to stay on my horse, shouts sounded from the other riders to our left. Reids' horse was running around the steppe.

“Oh Jesus!” I exclaimed, “I was not expecting that so close to the finish!”

“I might stay on too” Rollo chuckled. “It's not over until it's over!”

We were so close to the final horse station that the herders had seen Reids' horse chuck him off and had lept into action on their dirt bikes. The herders stormed around the steppe with their lassos hunting down Reid’s horse as he wandered in with the other riders watching on. The benefit was that providing you were okay it did not matter if you lost your kit now. We were only 30km from the finish line so everyone was less stressed about losing their horses.  

The herders caught Reids' horse and dragged him into the station. Erin, Reid, Rollo and I arrived into this station around the same time to a crowd of adventurist category riders and crew members. Maggie was here and she was a welcome sight.

“Hi everyone!” She grinned “Well done! Vet your horses and then there is a surprise in the Ger for you all”

The horses all flew through the vet check and Erin and I wandered over to the Ger for the surprise. “Liz!!” We shouted as we looked around the group of people.

There were so many more people than just Liz, everyone we had not seen for a few days, or at all if they had been to the hospital at the mid-way stage, were here. Erin and I threw our kit down and braced ourselves for lounging in the sun until Alice and Lucy caught up.

Crew and riders in the mongol derby
Chatting to Maggie

“Reid!” We suddenly turned around to see a crew member yelling out as Reid charged out of the station. “I’m going to finish this race!” He shouted to the crew member yelling for him to come back.

Seb wandered into the group. “Reid has broken his fingers. Looks like he has just left with a couple bending the wrong way, he won't let anyone strap him up” He laughed.

“He has had worse!” someone replied.

At that point, I had completely forgotten how Reid had an amputated leg. His riding and lack of complaint had been so amazing that I had become totally unaware. I suddenly felt bad for winging about basic pain and food poisoning.

“He is a different breed of human” I replied “He is utterly amazing”

We all watched in awe as Reid tanked off across the steppe on the bearing of the finish line with Jessie in quick succession.

“So, what’s the surprise?” I asked the group. “Maggie said there was something here?”

“There are chips and coke in the Ger!” Liz beamed “They are SO good”

Surely enough as we ducked our heads into the Ger we were met with the smell of potatoes frying on a stove and a vision of freshly made Mongolian chips and bottles of coke on the table. We immediately sat down and started to devour everything in sight. I was famished given the day previous and ate and ate, not stopping to take a breath.

“This is heaven!” Erin exclaimed, “I never want to leave!”

Enjoying chips and coke on the Mongol Derby
Enjoying chips and coke

Hilare, Seb, Erin and I sat inhaling as many potatoes as humanly possible. My stomach lurched and I grabbed my tummy.

“Okay I think I need to stop” I cautioned myself “No food for 48 hours and packing my face with chips and fizz is not a good idea”

We sat for quite some time wondering where Lucy and Alice were.

“We are waiting for them aren’t we?” I quizzed

“Yes we are not in a rush” Erin replied,

Seb was happy to follow our lead. We wandered outside, still no site of Lucy and Alice so we lay in the sun, soaking in the rays and chatting to the other riders. A full (albeit gurgling) tummy, sun, feeling well and a good chat with one more horse left, this was heaven.

As riders left the station I could see my race position slip further and further but I did not care. I was caught between wanting to go home, decent sleep and food versus never wanting to leave this moment. I knew I would never get to experience anything like this again. The sheer joy of something as simple as a bottle of coke, in the sun, with these people and the anticipation of my final amazing ride across Mongolia. I was torn, I wanted to cry with joy yet also with sadness at what I was about to lose. Ten years of saving and ten days of hell on earth but with some of the most awe-inspiring and captivating moments of my life was drawing to an end. How do you cope with that?


After half an hour or so the crew members began to ask if Erin and I were ever going to leave given we were still competing.

“The adventurist category riders are going to be let out to ride once you chaps have left, so you need to think about leaving”

Taking the hint, we grabbed our kit and wandered over to the final pot of destiny just as Alice and Lucy wandered in with their horses and a jeep tore into the station.

It was Arthur with his arm in a sling and a face combined with anger and sadness.

“Arthur!!!! What the hell happened!?” I shouted.

He has been one of the braver riders in the race, being thrown off constantly and just getting back on and not caring.

“Last horse ditched me and I've snapped my arm in half,” He said crestfallen “I can't believe I have come this far to not finish!”

“Arthur, you have finished the race,” Erin said sternly “The last thirty kilometres does not mater, you have ridden well over a thousand kilometres!”

“Can you walk the last leg?” I suggested

“I have asked them that and it’s a no as I need to go to the hospital ASAP” He replied.

Here was where reality hit home. Reids' fingers, Arthur's arm. It was not over until it was over. You had not finished the Derby until you had dismounted the final horse.

The fear of God was suddenly struck into me and I hoped for a kind last horse that would get me home safe. I had anything but.


HS 28 – 29 Finish

Spice was Spicey, hence the name I have provided for this blog. At the time I did not give this little diamond of a horse a name. However, “Bloody hell calm down” was said a lot.

Spice was a lovely, chestnut, athletic looking, racehorse, he was a little bit wild but also dead cool and if I had ridden him earlier on in the Derby I think we would have been great together. However, I was a shell of my former self by this point.

As I attempted to tack Spice up, herders held him as he whizzed around in circles, all previous thoughts on getting somewhere quiet to carry out this task had evaporated. My mental capcaity had dwindled from exhaustion and I was focusing on getting on as quickly as possible to make sure I was not going to risk being decked at the final hurdle. The fall Arthur had received had somewhat sobered all of our cockiness up. We were all now eager to mount and crack on with the final leg.

As I battled with Spice’s tack I saw Lucy and Alice with a couple of other riders mount up ready to go. I started to panic, was I ever going to get this horse tacked up? The drugs had not worked today, I was hopping around this firecracker and losing the will to live. I took Spice off her herder and held him tightly so he could only run in circles around me rather than the entire horse line. With this simple change, success was realised and my final horse of the Derby was tacked up.

I wandered over to the vet and sign-out area catching site of Erin having a photo shoot with her horse and its herder family. It turned out he was a family horse and the family were thrilled that he had been selected to be in the Derby for the first time. He had a soft, kind face and a gentle soul. Erin hopped onto him and meandered out of the station to catch up with the other five riders. She turned to find me.

“I am coming, keep walking and I will catch you all up!” I shouted.

Signed out and Spice checked over, it was time to try and get on. The herder who had attempted to help me tack up sauntered back to me and took hold of Spice, leading him out of the station and past the horse line into the steppe. Warning bells went off, I was on a live wire again, how was I going to get on? I was anything but athletic or graceful these days.

I tried to mount the slightly spicey steed, yet, as anticipated, he would not stand still. I looked to the herd of riders waiting for me, I longed to be on Spice and devouring the home straight. The herder saw the concern in my face and gave me a kind smile and pointed to Spice with a nod.

I shrugged and laughed pointing to my left foot which was hovering a few centimetres off the floor. These horses were tiny, but my limbs were so battered and exhausted that I could barely lift my leg to reach the stirrup. He smiled at me, grabbed my foot and pulled my leg up to the foothold. I grimaced in pain. Before I knew it he then grabbed my right thigh, shouted something at me and literally threw me onto Spice. As soon as my bottom had hit the saddle Spice tore the lead rein out of the herder's hands and charged off, pounding the ground to catch up with his companions. I turned around to shout thank you to the man and he laughed, smiled and waved me off.

“Okay, I am on!” I said to Spice “Just don’t chuck me off, we’ve got this!”

He charged off at full speed until he caught up with the other riders, one of which had fallen off and was walking back to the horse station with another rider.

“I love that they have left some of the craziest horses until the last horse station,” I said on catching up with the group.

“It's not over until we are off these last horses!” Lucy exclaimed.

Horse and rider on the final leg of the Mongol Derby
Spice taking off across the steppe

With that, our group of riders took off across the steppe on our final mission, find the finish line. This leg was ridden with trepidation for getting home safe but also with sadness. On one hand, I wanted to be finished and have a shower and wear clean clothes, on the other I was very aware that this would be the last time I would ever feel this way. The freedom, the joy, the anticipation, the calmness, the pride and the fun all rolled into one, in life these emotions together in this concentration rarely happens.

Erin’s horse began to struggle halfway just as the sun became its hottest. Sweltering and struggling, Erins' horse slowed to a walk and trot pacing whilst the rest of the horses were fine. However, we had all agreed that we were here to enjoy this last day and the last leg. We were sticking together. We ambled along the leg chatting merrily about our time on the steppe and in the wilderness. We told tales about our highs and lows and sang songs to keep us all chugging along. A few riders caught up and rode with us, happy for a reprieve in what had been a competitive two weeks.

It was around ten kilometres out that the talk turned to the finish line.

“Has there ever been so many riders cross the line at the same time? Seb quizzed.

“Not sure, I think we need to do something cool though!” Lucy replied.

We settled on a full-speed charge into the station, battle style. Our inspiration being Lord of the Rings horse charges. Mainly The Return of the King, Pelennor Fields battle, where the Riders of Rohan charge down the hillside towards the Uraki and Wargs. We all got very excited about singing the Lord of the Rings Theme Tune and shouting “It is not this day” and various other generic Lord of the Rings quotes.

Time ticked on, the spirits of the group heightened and we had a distance check.

“Guys I think that’s It over there!” Lucy shouted from upfront. She was right. In the not-so-far-off distance we could see the welcome sight of a cluster of bright white Gers and the large flags from the start line reaching into the sky. There was nothing else around, the finish line was literally in sight.

“We have done it” I whispered.

“We certainly have” Erin grinned back with a hollow pain behind her eyes. We were both struggling yet determined not to let it dampen this moment.

"How far are we galloping out from?!” Seb asked everyone.

We were only a few thousand meters out. We decided to have a galloping finish, the horses had not done much gruelling exercise this leg, so a vet penalty was looking unlikely. We lined up along the small mound in the Earth leading down towards the finish camp. Seb was leading the charge. He positioned himself in the middle for us all to line up alongside him. Once formed up we trotted in unison down the hillside.

“Hold!!! HOLD!” Seb shouted as if commanding a true army as the sun beat down on our backs.

Then someone shouted “Charge!” and we galloped towards the finish line cheering and screaming as if we were the Hun ourselves rampaging villages. The horses had their heads slung low into aerodynamic arrows flying towards the flags, their hooves all thundering in harmony against the ground, their snorting clashing with the cheers. As the finish line grew closer I turned to look at my fellow riders galloping alongside me in various attack stances, all grinning from ear to ear, all transported away from the worries of modern-day life, all living a scenario that most horsey people would kill to experience. I have never seen a group of people so happy, and I suspect I never will again.

Riders charging to the finish line
Riders charging to the finish line

As the finish line crept upon us Spice decided that the flags were terrifying and darted to the left, terrified to go near them.

“NOOOOOO I am not falling off here!” I said to him and hauled him around in a circle to follow the others past the flags.

Fortunately, he obliged but seemed to be overly excited from our charge and was on his toes.

“I have just got to get off you lad, please just let me get off you in one piece,” I thought.

Rider on horse at the end of the Mongol Derby
At the finish line waiting to dismount Spice

The rest of the day from this point is a blur. This year we were allowed a couple of people at the finish line to welcome us home from our journey should we wish. I had my brother Alex there waiting for me. I could see him as I trotted past the flags and into the station, I waved and Spice decided to start jig jogging and flinching at the smallest movements.

“Hang on everyone Potts has got a spicey one, out the way” Eric called out.

Every fibre of my being ached but with a deep breathe in I flung my leg over Spice and was met with a jarring but welcome searing pain up my legs to let me know that I had made it. I had completed the Mongol Derby, in one piece. That was all I set out to do. I had accomplished my goal.

I was so overwhelmed by the number of people at the finish line including family, friends, staff and other riders that I did not know who to go to first.

“God you stink!” The loving words of any brother. I turned around and saw a welcome sight standing with a bottle of Coca-Cola.

“Not half as bad as I smelt before I washed in the river a few days ago!” I laughed.

He embraced me in a huge bear hug and demanded I drink the Coke. After Alex, the hugs and congratulations came thick and fast. Riders that had finished the day prior and earlier that morning came and said hello in their clean, showered former selves. Friends and family were introduced to each person's rider, and the crew members emerged from the camp Gers to offer support. It was all very overwhelming but the most fantastic atmosphere. After a few minutes of hugs and congratulations, the vets called us down to the vet check.

“Two seconds I will be back up, I just need to make sure my last horse is okay,” I told Alex.

“Cool see you in a bit, I have a bag of chocolate and crisps for you when you are done” He replied. Music. To. My. Ears.

Women receives finish line hugs on the Mongol Derby
Family hugs on the steppe

Spice flew through the vet check and I could not help but feel sad that he had passed so quickly. He was the last Mongolian horse I would have the pleasure of dealing with on this venture. Instead of handing Spice back immediately I stood for a time with him drinking in the splendour and atmosphere around me. Riders were hugging each other and their horses. Some riders had tears in their eyes, all had a beaming smile across their faces.  Hoards of people shouted congratulations around the camp to one another, the horses that had passed the vet check were driven out to the steppe with the herders on dirt bikes chugging away, coughing out plumes of black smoke. Thoughts of relentless perseverance, the camaraderie of fellow adventurers, and the stark beauty of the landscapes I had travelled over flooded my mind. Every bruise and blister seemed a badge of honour, every moment of doubt now a testament to my resilience. A profound sense of accomplishment washed over me, mingling with the awe-inspiring realization that I had conquered the world's toughest equestrian challenge.

“EPO are you vetted through?” A crew member asked

“Yes, all done,” I said startled away from my daydream.

“Off you go then, you are done! Congratulations!”

I reluctantly relinquished my final horse to a herder.

“Thank you little chap,” I said to Spice as he wandered over to the horse pen ready to be taken back to his herd.

I trundled my tack up to the finish camp Gers, hugging fellow riders on route. The atmosphere was so joyous. People I had never met before were embracing me and telling me I was amazing, people were throwing biscuits at me to sustain my battered body and riders were either running around on a high like hyper children or were flaked out with family members laying on the soft ground.

Riders hug each other on the Mongol Derby finish line
Fellow riders offering congratulations and well deserved hugs

After the heroes welcome from friends and strangers it was time to wander up to the tack room and deposit my belongings. Fortunately, riders get to keep their bridles as a keep sake. Tthe saddle and pads however you are to leave with the crew. As I left the tack room a lady in a beautiful Mongolian robe beckoned me to her for my finishers scarf and fermented mares milk. A local delicacy and honour to demonstrate the affirmation of the locals to the riders in finishing this monumental challenge. It was here it hit home. I was done. Tears of joy filled my eyes at what had been accomplished, my body suddenly felt like it weighed 100kg more and all the pain I had endured in the adrenaline-filled ten days suddenly had no distraction. I could feel every ache, every blister, every rub, every damaged tendon and my knees were well and truly damaged. My skin was like sandpaper, my lips were peeling from sunburn and salt crystals were flaking from my forehead.

Rider finishing the Mongol Derby
Receiving my finisher scarf (khadag on Tsagaan Sar) and fermented mares milk

Riders celebrate finishing the Mongol Derby
Lucy, Alic, Erin and Me carrying Seb at the finisher board

I hobbled to the accommodation Gers in search of a bed and my finish line bag with toiletries and clean clothes. The beds were blow-up mattresses, the bedding was duvets and pillows, and there were even towels. I was in heaven. If there was ever a way to make you appreciate the small things in life it was this race.  I peeled my boots and chaps from my legs, grimacing at the smell emulating from my skin in these new clean surroundings. It's amazing how you go nose blind when everyone around you is also pungent. My broken helmet was cast into the bin and various clothes from my bag followed suit. No amount of washing was going to get these back to wearable levels. I wrapped the beautiful crips towel around me and excitedly staggered to the showers.

As the warm water streamed down my face and over my broken body, stinging open wounds and deep scratches, I took a moment to notice the state of my body. It was a mess. My skin was covered in various issues, but what I had not noticed on the steppe was the dry scaliness of it, I looked like a lizard. My hip bones and ribs were jutting out, threatening to pierce my skin and my hair was falling out in clumps as I brushed conditioner through its lengths to try and salvage any strands I could. Regardless of the mess I was in, relief suddenly swept over my whole body. The hot, running water, the promise of a bed, knowing I did not have to ride another horse for weeks if I did not wish, unlimited food and seeing my friends and family. I started to cry with a huge smile as the magnitude of what I had accomplished struck and also the sadness of knowing it was all over. I was emotionally torn as I washed away the traces of this extraordinary adventure.  

Alex came and found me after I spent far too long in the shower and handed me a plastic bag of biscuits, crisps and Cola. We sat chatting to each other munching on creature comforts and exchanging stories. Alex had been on the steppe for three days at the finish line forming bonds with other riders' families and friends, exploring the vast landscapes on foot. I divulged a few key points from my travels not knowing how to explain what I had seen and partaken in, words could not do the past ten days justice.

After a time my stomach began to grumble from overeating and an announcement was called across the camp for the awards ceremony. A plethora of people materialised from their Gers to be met by crew members handing out Mongolian ceremonial clothing. Everyone had a stunning coloured robe for the evenings' activities.

Mongol riders in ceremonial clothing at the finish of the race
Pre ceremony group picture

As the sun set across the steppe on our final night the top three finishers of the race were awarded their medals and various speeches, special awards and funny anecdotes were shared. The backdrop was, as always, stunning. Wild horses grazed beyond the stage, offering everyone a last glimpse of these magnificent animals who would live on in our dreams. The stars winked in the sky unobstructed by any cloud cover and a dog barked in the distance some miles away. When the ceremony concluded and the dog barking ceased we were all met with a startling silence for a few seconds. I savoured this as in twenty-four hours these silences would no longer be available to my ears.

The late evening began with Erics Steppe bar being opened to all. I managed a single drink before exhaustion overtook every cell of my being and the call of a soft bed beckoned. “

Alex, I need sleep, I can't keep my eyes open” He nodded and continued to party well into the night as I was pulled to the promise of a good night's sleep.

A duvet and pillow upon a soft mattress was a thing of beauty. It was as if lying on a cloud. As I drifted off for the first real night's sleep in ten days my mind wandered to a highlights reel of the previous days. The Mongol Derby had tested my limits to the extreme in many ways, forever binding me to the spirited equines and rugged, breathtaking expanses of Mongolia. I floated off to sleep sore yet content. I was satisfied, full and owned a heart brimming with love for this wild and untamed country with its tenacious horses, stunning landscapes and truly beautiful people.

Finish line of the Mongol Derby
Finishing flags against the steppe backdrop on the final day

The next blog "The Mongol Derby: Aftercare Considerations" can be found here.


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