Wylie vs. The 2017 Mongol Derby

Rider/writer Leslie Wylie has done some pretty crazy crap in the name of #YOLO, inspiring equestrians and non-equestrians alike around the world with her go-for-the-gusto stories. Tens of thousands of readers have tuned into the websites Horse Nation , Eventing Nation and Jumper Nation to vicariously ride along on her harrowing/hilarious adventures.

From foxhunting with British nobility (see busted nose in photo above) to tolting Icelandic ponies on the side of a volcano to finding herself amidst a drug lord scuffle during the Rio Olympic test event , with Leslie you never quite know what is going to happen next. For her next trick, however, she's giving us a little advance warning -- and she is asking for our help.

In August 2017, Leslie will be attempting her most fearsome feat yet: a 620-mile race across Mongolia. Riding 25 semi-wild native horses. Carrying only 11 pounds of gear. Relying on nomads for food, water and shelter. On a mission to help stop deforestation. 

The Mongol Derby is widely regarded as the toughest horse race in the world. Inspired by the Genghis Khan's original "pony express," there's no trail or set route, just 25 GPS checkpoints/horse exchange stations to hit over the course of 7-10 days.

Make no mistake: in Leslie's lengthy history of bad ideas, this is hands-down her worst one yet.

Of 40 international starters, selected from hundreds of applicants, historically only about half finish the race. Last year a couple folks got airlifted to Hong Kong with serious injuries, and the winner doesn't even remember a couple days of the race because she was concussed from being trampled. A couple years before that eight riders were held up by motorcycle bandits. Even the luckiest riders come home with horror stories of being bucked off, chafed by 13-hour days in the saddle, chapped by the elements, and chased by dogs.

Why would anyone in their right mind want embark on this sort of journey? Well, for starters, let's be clear: Leslie isn't quite right in the head.

(And also, sometimes literally in over her head.) 

But this time around, at least, her insanity is for a noble cause. Each Derby competitor's $12,995 entry helps give back to Mongolian families, whose generosity with their horses and their homes makes the race possible, as well as Cool Earth , a charity that works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction. Not-fun fact: Half the world's rainforest has been lost over the past 40 years, and Cool Earth is working on the frontlines of deforestation to stop that trend.

Riding feral ponies on a mission to save the world/make life in general less boring ... sounds like just the job for Leslie. But to get it done she needs a support crew, and that's where you come in. The race is expensive -- $12,995 entry fee + $2,500 airfare + gear + insurance + training + rabies shot + inner thigh reconstructive surgery + etc. -- and Leslie is calling upon your love and support. 

Want to ride vicariously alongside Leslie on her Mongolian adventure? Pledge your support toward her entry and the big-hearted charitable mission it represents, and she'll pack you in her saddlebag -- metaphorically, at least.

Donation perks: 

Any donation: Regular updates on Leslie's Road to Mongolia and her undying gratitude! 

$25 & up: Above, plus a postcard from Mongolia.

$100 & up: Above, plus a very special Mongolian treasure and a shout-out on EN, HN and JN.

$200 & up: Above, plus she will name a Mongolian pony after you, whisper your name in its ear as they gallop across the Mongolian steppe, and send you a lock of its mane, photos, and a handwritten diary entry from their leg of the Derby.

$500 & up: Above, plus she will leave one of her horses to you in her will. In the event that she doesn't die, other surprise benefits to be determined. 

Corporate sponsorships are also available and include ad space on EN, HN and JN, product reviews and usage during the Derby, your logo on her stinky Derby attire, donation to additional charity, and much more. Email Leslie at [email redacted] for details.

Any donations received in excess of Mongol Derby expenses will be donated to Cool Earth.
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Leslie Wylie Bateman
Knoxville, TN

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