A Shropshire rider prepares to race in a brutal 1,000km Mongolian derby

Zoe Geddes with one of the horses, Silver, in her charge

Zoe Geddes is one of 40 people to have been accepted into the Mongolian Derby, considered the longest and toughest horse race in the world and which follows a 1,000km course across the Mongolian steppe. It recreates the horse messenger and the postal system developed by Genghis Khan in 1224.

Competitors – who must demonstrate a high level of riding ability – spend thirteen to fourteen hours a day in the saddle on wild horses, and the race lasts ten days – with usually only half the race. Zoe will fly to Mongolia to try her luck on August 3.

The 28-year-old, who lives in Lydbury North and works with horses near Walcot Hall, was accepted into the race in 2020 but was postponed due to Covid, giving her more time to raise the £11,375 it costs to enter.

As well as entry fees, she has to cover airfares, which can cost up to £1,000, and she has also faced unexpected bills in recent years.

Canceled flights and insurance for the 2020 expedition left her with no money and she also suffered a broken back while training which meant she faced heavy medical bills.

Although it has now increased the initial cost of entry, it is funding other associated costs, including booked flights and transporting equipment needed to complete the grueling challenge.

She said: “Ever since I was a child, I have always dreamed of riding across the vast country in the desert and surviving on the land being alone with my horse as my only companion.

“Apart from those childhood dreams, I don’t know what made me want to do the Mongolian Derby, although I love horses and have worked with them for years – but I think it was the challenge.

“The terrain will invariably include mountain passes, open green valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands and floodplains and much more, it was probably its intimidating nature that inspired me.

“It’s been a tough two years. I was pretty much on target for funding for 2020 but couldn’t make it and then there were all the costs associated with canceled arrangements and medical bills for my back – it has been difficult both physically and otherwise. .

“I’m lucky in some ways because it has given me more time to raise the necessary funds for registration and the costs associated with it and I have some fantastic friends, supporters and sponsors. , including people I work for, so I’m very lucky and send them all my sincere thanks.”

Earnest L. Veasey