The Mongol Derby 2011

With the vast steppes of Mongolia behind me, and as I get back into the rhythm of normal life, it’s time to look back on the Mongol Derby 2011 – at the challenge and experience of a lifetime…

Myself and one of the horses during the Mongol Derby pre-race training.

Myself and one of the horses during the Mongol Derby pre-race training. Photo © The Adventurists.

It was with great regret that I had to retire from the Mongol Derby, after six months of intense training and preparation for spending ten days in the saddle in the Mongolian desert.

My sincerest congratulations to fellow KZN rider Craig Egberink though, who returned to South Africa with the title of Mongol Derby 2011 champion!

At the heart of my Mongol Derby challenge

Although I had to pull out after 200km, it’s been incredible to see a community of supporters grow around me and especially around Indlela, the Durban North charity whose Fairhavens Babies Home was at the heart of my Mongol Derby challenge.

To my supporters, I must say an enormous thank you, for your encouraging words in the build-up to the Derby, and the support you’ve shown Indlela. With your help, we’ve managed to raise nearly R 300 000 for abandoned babies in KwaZulu-Natal!

The start of the Mongol Derby.

The start of the Mongol Derby. Photo © The Adventurists.

This contribution makes a huge difference in these children’s lives, and will help Fairhavens Babies Home to continue to provide a safe haven for orphans in need of care, and a stepping stone on the path to adoption and a better future.

The longest horse race in the world

As the longest horse race in the world, the Mongol Derby’s route crosses hostile and inhospitable terrain, and riders are partnered with semi-wild horses belonging to local Mongolian herdsmen.

Unfortunately a few riders, myself included, could not complete the 1 000km race across the Mongolian desert, for a variety of reasons. Myself and some of the other riders were unhappy with the condition of our horses, and it seemed best to bow out at that stage. Others also sustained injuries on the course, and suffered exhaustion in the extreme heat.

Where to from here?

The whole Mongol Derby team before the big adventure.

The whole Mongol Derby team before the big adventure. Photo © The Adventurists.

My passion for adventure is matched only by my desire to make a difference in my community. And my support for Indlela and Fairhavens Babies Home does not stop here…

I live my life one Bucket List extreme adventure or experience at a time, and there’s still a lot I want to see and do; and a lot of plans in the works to help make a difference in the lives of orphaned and abandoned children along the way.

I will be attending the semis and finals of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand in October 2011, before sailing my yacht (which will have hopefully arrived from Greece after four months and two Atlantic crossings) to all 20 marinas in South Africa in November and December this year.

In July 2012, I will be visiting Pamplona in Spain to do the ‘running of the bulls’, followed by climbing the highest peak in Europe, Mount Elbus, which is one of my Bucket List wishes – to climb the seven highest peaks on the seven continents.

In September 2010, I will be attempting the world’s most difficult hike, the Bhutan Snowman Trek in the Himalayas. It’s 500 000 steps, over 18 days, through Bhutan, Himalayas, Tibet and Nepal. Also known as the ‘Shangri-La Experience, it’s been done by fewer people than have summited Everest.

So watch this space!


One Response to “The Mongol Derby 2011”

  1. Olivia September 12, 2011 5:40 pm #

    HI Paul,

    Sorry that you didn’t finish the race, or attend the finish camp celebrations.
    I understand that you had bad luck with horses. Huge shame. Contrary to what you say though, I’m not sure any of the other riders stopped because they were concerned about the condition of the horses. The race was very tough, and the ponies were, as they say, semi-wild, and some were very challenging to ride. I believe that this was part of the ride.

    Best wishes with the rest of your adventures,


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