After jostling for the leading position for over 620 miles, three riders agreed to cross the finish line of the Mongol Derby together, holding hands.
Canadian Heidi Telstad, Australian William Comiskey and American Marcia Hefker-Miles all crossed the finish at 9:48 a.m. Mongolian time on Thursday after seven full days of riding. It’s a historic first for the extreme race that has riders from around the world climb aboard 28 different semi-wild horses for 25-mile intervals, navigating through the open and treacherous terrain of Mongolia.
In an interview, Telstad said that the night before the final leg of the race the trio were all camped out together and couldn’t decide what they should do. “It was really funny,” said Telstad of the final morning of racing. “We were racing but none of us were getting ahead and then we didn’t want to run the horses too hard. It feels really good to have crossed the line with two great friends,” she said.
“Those ponies have so much ferocity. They are so fearless, they’ll do anything for you. I have wonderful horses at home but I don’t think i’ve experienced horses that have as much soul and heart as these horses do,” said Hefker-Miles.
As for their plans following the race, it was all about personal grooming and cleanup:
“I had my first shower in eight days. It was glorious, bloody hell. And then I could smell my clothes, we must’ve stank,” said Comiskey.
While Telstad added it took an hour to get a brush through her long hair it was “so matted and gnarly.”
This year, 41 riders started the race and 14 retired due to injury and exhaustion. In order to participate, riders must raise money for the charity Cool Earth and another charity of their choice.