Texan farrier-come-adventurer Justin Nelzen, winner of the second Mongol Derby last summer, is a confirmed entrant in the 2011 competition. The Mongol Derby is a self-guided, 1000-km adventure race cross the Mongolian steppe. The race takes place in one of the world’s last remaining wildernesses and birthplace of the largest land empire ever created. Having had the ride of a lifetime last August, Nelzen is keen to defend his title and better his achievement. A former U.S. Marine, world champion martial artist, marathon runner, triathlete and more recently international endurance rider, Nelzen will be adding to an impressive tally of sporting and adventuring honors.
The Mongol Derby isthe longest multi-horse race in the world, and one of the most grueling equine adventures. At the heart of the Mongol Derby is the horse station system, called Urtuus in Mongolian. Based on the Great Chinggis Khaan’s postal system, which could relay messages at speed from the furthest corners of the empire, the Mongol Derby rebuilds this network to stage one of the most ambitious equine events in history. Participants are mounted on a series of native Mongolian horses, which are sacred in the enduring Mongolian nomadic culture. They eat and rest with nomadic families along the way. An extensive back-up system providing medical and veterinary support to the horses and riders is integral to the event.
With a new course being planned this winter and a new lineup of athletes, as well as the unpredictable elements during the Derby itself which make it a unique adventure, there is no guarantee that Nelzen’s preparations and athletic and endurance abilities will get him across the finish line ahead of the pack for a second time. Entries are now open for the 2011 Derby. This year’s race, due to start on August 6, is limited to 35 riders, with applicants from all over the world. For more information, click here.