The Physical Toll
Of the 44 riders who set out to conquer or at least survive the 2018 Mongol Derby, 33 completed the race with an official placing, including winners Adrian Corboy and Annabel Neasham, who completed the race together on Day 7. Retirees suffered from a wide variety of injuries from falls—broken ribs, broken collarbone, dislocated shoulder, torn ankle ligaments. (Riders have also been knocked out of races from dehydration, hypothermia, exhaustion, illness, chafing and a whole other slew of ailments.) At the end of Days 1 and 2, my whole body was so sore, I could hardly walk when I got off my horses. But by Day 3, the muscle soreness dissipated as joint pain (knees and ankles) and chafing set in. From the outset, I taped both my ankles, as they had been problematic during training. As the derby went on, I began changing my stirrup length about every other leg of the race to slightly change my knee and ankle angles, which helped. I spent a good portion of my morning routine on Day 3 taping chafed areas—the backs of my knees, backs and insides of my thighs, butt and tops of my shoulders, which were being ravaged by my water pack—to stop the open sores from getting worse. My biggest issue came on Day 5 when I wrenched my lower back after my horse tripped in a marmot hole and I overcompensated by pulling him up and sharply to the right. By the end of Day 6 it was incredibly painful, and the bouncing water pack didn’t help. When all else fails, a handful of ibuprofen, a tab of Imodium and some Mongolian vodka go a long way!