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Former ESLC Staffer Sets Sights on 2019 Mongol Derby

(Rachel Roman served as a policy coordinator and program assistant for ESLC from 2015 to 2018. The following was shared with us by Rachel, who now lives on the west coast and works for The Nature Conservancy. Go Rachel!)

This fall I found out that I was chosen to ride in the 2019 Mongol Derby, the longest and toughest horse race in the world. Only 40 riders worldwide are chosen to compete. And guess what?


The race spans 600 miles over 10 days across the vast Mongolian wilderness. The idea is to follow the route from Genghis Khan’s network (established in 1224 AD) for riders carrying information to communicate throughout the empire.

Riders change semi-wild horses every 25 miles, using only a GPS to track the route while enduring extreme physical and mental conditions. The terrain is rough, unforgiving, and breathtaking – high passes, deep valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands, sandy dunes, rolling hills, and open plains.

Why Am I Competing?

I’ve essentially spent my entire life riding, training, competing, and caring for horses, so my equestrian background is pretty diverse – with dressage as my main focus. I also like to think that I have better-than-average survivalist skills, thanks in part to my NOLS experience and in large to my undying love for the outdoors. That said, I have absolutely zero endurance riding experience, which is all about to change.


I have spent the last few months training and fundraising but still have a long way to go. My fundraising efforts includes race fees and dollars that will go directly to The Nature Conservancy’s program in Mongolia. The race fees go toward procuring the thousands of local horses need to put on the race, paying local families to host riders overnight and supplying a team of top veterinarians to keep the horses safe and healthy. I choose to also support TNC Mongolia because I believe it is important that the money I raise goes back into the beautiful and wild landscapes I will be racing through.

Information about the race and my progress can be found on my website (https://www.rachelmongolderby.com/). If you have any questions about the race or my fundraising efforts, please do not hesitate to ask! I hope you will consider sharing my adventure with your networks and friends.

— Rachel Roman


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