Ella vs Mongol Derby, 2019

Ella vs Mongol Derby, 2019!


After persistently applying since 2014, I finally snagged an interview and was offered a spot in the 2019 Mongol Derby!

A little bit about the race and the organization behind it:

The derby runs from August 4th through the 17th, 2019. It is a 621 mile (1000km) race on horseback across the Mongolian Steppe, modeled after the world’s first long-distance postal system put in place by Genghis Khan. We ride the native Mongolian ponies, swapping to fresh horses every 25 miles. Similar to endurance and eventing, horses finishing their leg of the route must pass a vet check prior to the rider continuing on their fresh horse. We ride during daylight hours, and, assuming we make it to a checkpoint by sundown, stay with the locals who graciously host us at checkpoints along the route.

The Mongol Derby’s official charity is Cool Earth, a charity dedicated to preserving rainforests by working directly with local communities to provide them with the tools, education and resources to assist them in establishing a community-driven investment in the protection of their rainforests. Participants are encouraged to raise money for said charity, as well as a charity of their own choosing.

I have selected the Outdoor Project as my personal charity. This organization promotes awareness around environmental conservation by stewarding outdoor education to promote individual appreciation towards the importance of maintaining our natural spaces. Growing up, I was privileged to have a handful of individuals who taught me all they knew about the environment we lived in. By doing this, and providing me a route to “escape” confidently into the woods, they inspired me to pursue outdoor adventure and to appreciate what nature has to offer. I believe it is important to instill this sense of awe if we truly wish to save the world, so to speak.



I have been applying to participate in this adventure persistently since 2014 and was floored to be offered an interview and hear of my acceptance this year! Out of the hundreds of people that apply each year, only 40 worldwide are selected to participate.

The entry fee is rather hefty, and participants are encouraged to raise money via sponsorships and donations. With that said, I am now presenting this GoFundMe page to solicit financial support for this escapade!


SO – what exactly is all this cash money for?

The entry fee - £10,795, or just over $14,000. Considerably higher than any entry fee I’ve dreamed of paying..

 This entry fee goes towards:

-      The use of 25-27 native Mongolian ponies (per rider, mind you!) during the race, plus a few additional mounts for pre-race training.

-      Over 150 local Mongolian herders who provide their time, expertise, and resources to host us and provide the horses for the derby.

-      A team of over 200 individuals dedicated to running this derby, including –

o   A team of local and international veterinarians

o   Medics

o   A race crew with drivers, runners, interpreters, technicians, and the countless moving parts required to run a successful derby!

-      Pre-race training – Medical, veterinary, technical and riding practice.

-      25 stations along the route, all equipped to feed and shelter the riders.

-      A custom saddle, specially designed for the Mongolian ponies.

-      A GPS tracker, so that we may navigate from point to point.

(Ideally this will keep us on track, but even if we are unable to locate ourselves, an emergency button activates a response team to our location in dire, derby-ending situations. This device will also allow followers at home to view our progress along the course, or, alternatively, wonder what the heck made me choose the route I ended up on.)

-      A personal blog page for friends, family, and followers to track my progress before, during, and after the derby.


Further, there are expenses NOT included in the entry fee –

-      Flights – as of today, November 8th, round trip fights are running about $1,500

-      Pre-race accommodations – It is recommended that we arrive a few days prior to race start not only to ensure we arrive on time, but also to acclimate to the elevation. In Ulaanbaatar, at approximately 4,429 feet above sea level, I may note a bit of a difference from the 32’ above sea level I currently comfortably live at here in Port Angeles, Washington.

-      Adventuring items – Though I am well equipped with equestrian items, I need to purchase/borrow/solicit sponsorships for a select array of lightweight adventure items. Stay tuned for an updated list!

-      The Outdoor Project – I will be donating personal funds to this organization. In addition, any additional funding I am able to scrounge up will go towards this outdoor outreach program.


Thank you for taking the time to read, pass this on, offer advice, insight, and the like. I will be bothering businesses for sponsorships as well, if your business is interested in becoming part of the team, or you know of one who might, please let me know! In the meantime, please share with friends and family, and donate if you see fit! I hope to instill some sense of adventure in you, in hopes that you pursue your own, in whatever form that may take!

Donations (0)

  • Gary & Gia Cummisk  
    • $50 
    • 12 d
  • Stephanie Detwiler  
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Erica Montelius 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Ruthi Erdman 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Tamara Mildon 
    • $280 
    • 1 mo


Ella Mildon 
Port Angeles, WA
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