What is The Longest Horse Race in the World?
According to Guinness World Records, the longest horse race in the world is the Mongol Derby which, since 2009, has been staged annually each August in the Binder district of Khentii Province in eastern Mongolia. The Mongol Derby traces a 1,000-kilometre, or 621-mile, route across a vast expanse of grassland, known as the Mongolian Steppe, and attempts to recreate the messaging system established by Genghis Khan, Emperor of the Mongol Empire, in the early thirteenth century.The course is punctuated at regular intervals by a network of horse stations, or ‘urtuu’, as they are known locally, twenty or so miles apart. The stations are hosted by local families, employed by the race organisers, The Adventurists, to provide food, accommodation and support to participating riders.
The same families provide native Mongolian horses, 1,500 or so of which are trained, specifically, for the Mongol Derby each year. Mongolian horses are stocky, ranging between twelve and fourteen hands in height, but, although diminutive by Western standards, are deceptively strong. The vast majority live in semi-feral herds, outdoors, throughout the year, and largely fend for themselves, with human intervention. They must survive not only the short, warm summer, but also the long, dry and frigid winter – which can resul temperatures as low as -40°C – for which Mongolia is notorious. Mongolian horses are blessed with a calm, docile temperament and an abundance of stamina, making them the perfect partners for the Mongol Derby. Indeed, riders from all over the world are prepared to stump up the not insignificant entry fee – £11,375 at the last count – which also includes three days’ training.