The mainstream press starts to ask questions about the race.
Front page article in Portland, Oregon newspaper questions role of Mercy Corps and provides great quote about the contestants.
“Are these bored, rich young riders prepared to explain to the Gobi herder that the reason they are "racing" is to alleviate their oppressive and apparently chronic boredom?…..I am so fed up with the notion that bad behavior in foreign countries is made acceptable because you donate some money to a charity. Isn't it rather like buying an indulgence?”
London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reports British television presenter, Ben Fogle, withdraws from Mongol Derby, citing medical concerns.
America's Horse magazine has published an article by Sharon Biggs entitled "Proposed Mongolian Horse Race Raises Welfare Concerns", in which a VET Net official is quoted as saying, "We want to make it clear that VET Net has nothing to do with this race," said Johnny Haffner, DVM, a VET Net member who has worked extensively in the area.
Tom Morgan changes his tune
Equestrian leaders have noticed that the race organizers have altered their stance on a number of critical issues. For example, the Mongol Derby website originally boasted, "there's no marked course and there will be huge stretches with no paths or tracks at all. In fact even when there are tracks there is little chance they will be going in the right direction.”
In a document released on July 8th, Morgan now claims, “The Mongol Derby will have a route marked out….”
But the topic which has rightfully concerned equestrian experts the most was the apparent lack of water. Morgan is now claiming that he has organized an “extensive list of confirmed water sources.” But that message doesn’t match what the contestants originally told the international press.
Mongol Derby Contestants on the subject of water
Contestant Hannah Ritchie writes, “There is no marked course, no roads or tracks, we must find our own water and depend on the hospitality of the nomadic people we encounter along the way for food and shelter in their gers (Mongolian tents).”
Contestant Katy Willings writes, “I will be navigating, foraging, finding water for me and the neddies, coping with extremes of heat and cold, fending off wolves, washing in rivers (If i can afford to make a pit stop...), and introducing the nomads who have herded up some 800 of their precious horses for our racing pleasure to my Wuthering Heights rendition after a round or two of fermented mare's milk.”
Contestant Matilda Branson writes, “We have to carry all our gear - 10kg limit - food, water. No roads, no signs. Just me and the desert, and 24 other maniacs...but's it for a good cause!”
Contestant Tara Reddy is quoted as saying, “Food and water will also be an obstacle Reddy will have to contend with during the Mongol Derby. There's no guarantee there will be food available at the horse stations, she said. "We're still looking into the food options," said Reddy. "They're going to give us GPS locations to the wells, where we'll be able to get water, and they don't guarantee that the wells will have water. They want us to be careful because there are packs of wild dogs that surround those wells. We'll be carrying UV sticks to sterilize the water. You can only carry 10 kilograms of weight with you."
The U.S. Government and Tom Morgan
Did officials of the United States government provide Tom Morgan with the idea for the Mongol Derby?
The Mongolia Monitor – News from USAID/Mongolia No. 52 – November, 2005.
“Pony Express – Everything else seems to have started in Mongolia, why not the Pony Express? Turns out that in the 13th century, there was a series of horse stations established across the Mongolian landscape and horsemen travelled scores of miles a day, changing horses every so often, in one of the first efforts at fast long-distance communication. As the French say, Plus ca change……”
Tom Morgan and the United States Ambassador to Mongolia attend function together.
Project Opening Ceremony in Khenti aimag - On 10 August 2007 there was an opening ceremony held for the water well constructed under the project titled 'Deep Water Well.’ The opening ceremony was attended by the U.S. Ambassador Mr. Mark C. Minton….. and Mongol Rally representatives Mr. Tom Morgan and Ms. Jenny Hunter.
Tom Morgan Claims Mongol Derby is longest horse race – it’s not
As the heat mounts, race organizer Tom Morgan has been busy trying to divert the public’s attention away from the many concerns expressed about the race by offering the enticement that the event will qualify to become a Guinness Book Record. Once again, Morgan has been proved wrong.
“The Mongol Derby is set to be the world's
longest horse race – the first of its kind and very likely a Guinness World
Record (TM). A 1000-kilometre multi horse race across the wild Mongolian Steppe
consisting of 25 riders from around the world who are also raising huge sums of
money for charity projects in Mongolia. Created and managed by UK based company
The Adventurists, with support from an American veterinary NGO based in Mongolia
and respected British and Mongolian equine experts, the Derby is about poking at
the very boundaries of human adventurism.”
The officers of the above referenced NGO, VET Net, have made it clear that their organization is in no way associated with Morgan’s race and endurance racing experts have also poured cold water on his claim to be staging the world’s longest horse race.
“Morgan's race is by far NOT the world's longest horse race, so that can be set straight with Guinness right away. The 2001 XP and the 1975 XP were around 3000 km, from St Louis Missouri to Carson City Nevada,” said Merri Melde of Ride Camp.
“This page has a map showing the trail: http://enduranceridestuff.com/2001XP.html A similar but shorter event (1250 miles) was run in 2004, and for two years the Santa Fe Horse Race took place more recently - I believe it was 650 or 750 miles. So there are at least four events in this century that are verifiable as having longer distance than the Mongol Derby - and all were run under current AERC rules and veterinary procedures,” wrote American endurance expert, Karen Chaton.
Horse-lovers from 26 nations have added their voices to the international petition to stop the unethical Mongol Derby, but your vote is still needed.
The investigative article “Racing into Trouble” is published in various exploration and equestrian publications around the world.
World’s leading exploration website, ExWeb.
North American equestrian magazine, Horse Connection.
“HOT OFF THE PRESS - The article that has stirred global outrage!”
British on-line equestrian magazine, Voices for Horses.
Dutch horse magazine BIT.
New Zealand based equestrian news service, Horse Talk.
Leading Equine Experts around the world voice their concerns and opposition to the race.
North America’s Fugly crowns Tom Morgan “Idiot du Jour.” "Another day, another idiot thinking that using animals for some extreme sport event is acceptable.... the international horse community will not stand for this attempt to bring defenseless animals into Morgan's parade of attempted self-destruction."
Ride Camp editor, Merri Melde, takes exception to Tom Morgan’s “Shifting Priorities.’
International endurance rider, Maryanne Gabbani, warns race organizers “The World is Smaller now.”
Endurance rider Karen Chaton takes issue with several aspects of the race.
Ever heard of the Catoosa Suicide Race? Now compare the similarities to the Mongol Derby…
So what happens to the Mongolian horses
after the event?