The 2017 Mongol Derby, the world’s longest and toughest horse race, has been jointly won by 29 year-old Ed Fernon, an Olympic pentathlete from Sydney, Australia, and 51 year-old Barry Armitage, a former professional sailor turned adventurer, from South Africa.
They crossed the finish line together in ‘stinking hot conditions’ and have covered the 1000km in seven days, riding 12 hours a day – and in some of the worst conditions the race has ever seen.
On arrival at the finish line, both headed straight into the lake to cool off.
Will Comiskey, known to his fans as Dingo, has gone into the Mongol Derby Hall of Fame as the most successful Derbyist ever – a win and a fourth place, two finishes from two starts. According to the hilarious website, ‘The Adventurists’, which covered the Derby in full, Will is “not just a technician, nor indeed just a fabulous horseman, he has genuine panache, stopping to pick some wild flowers for Head Vet Emma on the way in.”
In third place, just a few hours behind the two leaders, was 40 year-old Jakkie Mellett, from Lyndon in South Africa. He, too, displayed incredible riding skills throughout, but received a vet penalty at the final urtuu (horse station) meaning a two-hour wait before he could give chase to the others.
The New Zealand riders did an amazing job too: Marie Palzer, 22, from Marahau, finished in joint sixth place, covering the 1000kms in eight days. She crossed the line with a group of riders after a real roller-coaster of a ride. The Adventurists describe her as ‘hot-headed at times, competitive, sensitive’ and say, “She held the lead with Ed Fernon for much of the early racing but clocked up a few vet penalties from riding too fast, pushing herself too hard to stay with Ed. Her tears on the finish line were testament to some tough lessons learned and a formative experience completed. Everyone else cried too, apparently. Then poked a beer down her.”
Well done Marie! We hope you enjoyed that beer.
Jennifer Cook from Rotorua finished in 11th place, which is an amazing achievement. She was within an hour of Roberta McLeod (Australia), and both rode solo during the last day as the groups they had been with were held up by penalties. As the Advenurists said: “It shows a certain steeliness to press on solo and make your own luck from there, and both have given us a lesson in steeliness.”
Fantastic riding to both Marie and Jennifer.