Mongol Derby Day 9: Stick a Fork in It

The riders are officially cooked and this year’s race is done. We pay tribute to the heroic final wave of finishers.

Chase Becker of Australia and Manuel Mendes of Portugal racing to the finishing line. Photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby.

The back of the bus is always where trouble happens, and no doubt this lies true for the Mongol Derby field as well. The riders at the tail-end of the finish line parade have run into difficulty, if not full-blown crisis, somewhere along the line, and yet they’ve managed to dig deep and soldier on. It’s an awe-inspiring demonstration of the human spirit, and the will to overcome.

Consider, for instance, Saif Noon of Pakistan. At age 18 (what were YOU doing when you were 18, hmmm?), he was the youngest rider in the field, and halfway through the race he declared that he’d had quite enough of this pain-and-suffering nonsense — only to come out of retirement the next morning with a renewed sense of determination that carried him all the way to the finish.

Mike Becker of Australia and Saif Noon do battle down the homestretch. Photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby.

Or how about Gemma Ractliffe, an accountant from the UK, whom we all thought was a goner after a horrific fall. Yet she climbed out of that Blood Wagon, heaved herself back into the saddle and rode away even harder than before, determined to rejoin the race and finish the job she’d started.

Jeanette Lazzaro of Virginia and Gemma Ratcliffe. Photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby.

For inspiration, one needn’t look further than Pamela Karner of New York. At age 64, Pamela just completed the Mongol Freaking Derby. Mad respect for this woman.

Pamela Karner celebrating with Chase Becker at the finish. Photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby.

A handful of retired riders even came back from the dead, so to speak, to cross the line. Chase Becker of Australia is a Derby two-timer, and has twice had bum luck: She snapped a tendon in her ankle in 2016, then once again found her way into the “Blood Wagon” on day 6 of this year’s race. Though officially retired, she rallied to ride the last couple legs and her smile across the finish line couldn’t have been bigger if she’d won the whole dang thing.

We could go on and on. Every rider has a story to tell of trials on the steppe that tested them to the core. The Mongol Derby is a horse race, certainly, but perhaps more so it is test against one’s own self. How far can you be pushed before you break? What can you endure?

Dori Hertel of Texas finishes her Derby. Photo courtesy of Mongol Derby

“Some of these riders are no doubt already planning their return, cheated of the win or even a finish by injury, bad luck, weather, distance… you’ve followed the race this far. You know how hard it is. Some will leave the steppe taking enough happy memories to last a lifetime and confident that they could not improve on the adventure. Whatever they think now, some will return. Some never will. Epic, extraordinary and ephemeral, that was the Mongol Derby 2018.” — Derby HQ, over and out. 

Photo courtesy of the Mongol Derby.

Finishers’ Leaderboard

Aug. 17, 2018 (Day 7)

1:30 p.m. – Adrian Corboy (AUS) & Annabel Neasham (UK), 1st-tie

3:35 p.m. – Devan Horn (USA), 3rd

3:56 p.m. – Eliza Allen (AUS), 4th

5:07 p.m. – Charlotte Howard (NZL) & Angus Lowe (SA), 5th-th

7:57 p.m. – Hinke van der Werf (NED), 7th

Aug. 18, 2018 (Day 8)

7:45 a.m.– Valeria Ariza (URU), 8th

8 a.m. – Rob, Ed & Jack Archibald (AUS), Henry Bell (AUS), Michael Turner (USA/BG), Jocelyn Pierce (USA), 9th-tie

12:15 p.m. – John Moore (IRE), 15th

12:45 p.m. – Christine Roberts (USA), Eion Kemp (NZ), Kelsey Riley (USA)

**“Placings a bit nebulous after this point: time across line unlikely to reflect final standing” — HQ**

6:40 p.m. — Kelsey Opstad (CAN), Trudi Thomas-Morton (UK)

6:42 p.m. — Karrin O’Loughlin (AUS), William Gunning (USA)

9:42 p.m. — Joel Scholz (USA), Nicolette Merle-Smith (USA), Michael Gascon (USA)

Aug. 19, 2018 (Day 9)

11:29 a.m. — Carol Federighi (USA), Matthew Graham (USA)

11:59 a.m. — Manuel Mendez (POR) & Saif Noon (PAK)

12:30 p.m. — Jeanette Lazarro (USA), Gemma Ractliffe (UK), Charmaine O’Niel (IRE)

12:32 p.m. — Pamela Karner (USA)

DNF: Dori Hertel (USA), Tamara Becksted (CAN) **made it to finish line but with too many penalties for an official placing**

Retired: Cele Stone (AUS), Heather ‘Flash’ Accardo (USA), Kathy Gabriel (AUS), Madison Smith (USA), Samantha Anderson (RZA), Rodney Herman (AUS), Chase and Mike Becker (AUS), Rouke Bloemsma (NED)


Missed out on the earlier stories? Get caught up on all the action!

Practical Horseman Associate Editor Jocelyn Pierce is competing in the Mongol Derby, a 600-mile expedition considered the longest and toughest horse race in the world, Aug. 8-27. Here’s how to follow the action, sponsored by Mane ‘n Tail and SmartPak:

• Visit Practical Horseman for daily race recaps and Jocelyn updates from 2017 Derby finisher Leslie Wylie
• Follow Jocelyn’s progress live via her GPS tracker, read official reports via the Derby website, and follow @mongolderbylive on Twitter
• Tune in for Derby Dot Watch Party podcasts presented by Horse Radio Network in partnership with Practical Horseman, broadcast live nightly at 8 p.m. EST 

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