Taking on the Derby: Mongolia Style

(we're doing...what?)

Jeannette has lost her mind.
And she’s brought 3 of her favorite people with her! This August Jeannette, Theresa, Carol, and Andy will be tackling the Mongolian steppe. Jeannette will be racing like she’s lost her damn mind – spoiler alert, she has! – while Theresa, Carol, and Andy herd the semi-feral Mongolian ponies from drop point to drop point. The expenses to enter the race are steep – nearly $13k. However, these funds go to a fantastic cause. Funds are used to support the native Mongolian herders, the horses, the veterinary support, as well as a specified charity and any charity of the competitor’s choice; additional expenses include airfare, specialized medical insurance for doing crazy things, and putting together a sweet kit to survive 10 days in the wilderness!! We are looking to raise funds to help with the expenses, of course, but are dedicated to giving back to charities that we hold close to the heart. As such, roughly $1,400 will be donated to Cool Earth, a phenomenal charity dedicated to saving the rainforests; 50% of the remaining funds will go to mitigating expenses and the remaining 50% will go to Children’s National, one of the country’s top pediatric hospitals. Anything over the entry fee will be donated to Children’s National.

(that one time we mountaineered Mt. Fuji! T crushed being our guide)

A little background on the race itself: In 1224, man-of-the-millennium, Genghis (Chinggis) Khaan set up the world's first long-distance postal transmission system. The Pony Express a few centuries earlier. Using a massive network of horse stations – “morin urtuus” in Mongolian - his hardy messengers could gallop from Kharkhorin to the Caspian Sea in a number of days.

For ten days each August, the 1,000km Mongol Derby recreates this legendary postal route, building a network of urtuus at 40km (roughly 25 miles) intervals along the entire thousand kilometre course. This is no guided tour, or professionally led pony trek. There is no marked course, no packed lunches, no showers, no stabling. Riders change horses every 40km and stay with the local herders or camp under the stars!

For more information about the Derby please visit:

(footage of the Derby, for those who think this idea sounds sane)

Every year 40 professional, semi-professional and enthusiastic amateur riders compete for the derby crown.  Riders must balance survival skills and horsemanship to have a chance of completing this race. They must endure the elements, from desert heat to freezing cold wind and rain; they must ride semi-wild horses as well as survive unfamiliar food and terrain. There are reasons the Mongol Derby is considered the longest and toughest horse race in the world.

Giving back: As the Derby raises awareness for Mongolian herders and life on the steppe, the race is also a platform to raise funds for charity. In their attempt to save the world, the organizers ask that each and every rider raise at least £1000 for charity. A minimum of half of these funds are reserved for Cool Earth, the organizers’ specified charity. Cool Earth works alongside rainforest communities to halt deforestation and climate change.

While £1,000 will be designated for Cool Earth, riders are allowed to designate other charities to ride for.  We have decided that at least 50% of all the donations to this fund, and all donations received after our expenses have been funded, will be donated to Children’s National Health System, supporting doctors, nurses, clinicians, and staff who are advancing pediatric medicine through expertise, innovation, and excellence in care and research. Donations are used to improve care, develop new therapies, and seek cures for childhood diseases. Children’s National in Washington, D.C. is where Jeannette was sent when she fractured her femur in a riding accident when she was 12 years old. Countless hours were spent at the facility over the course of her four surgeries, as well as for pre-and-post-operation appointments. Without the fantastic surgeons and support staff at Children’s, specifically Dr. Laura Tosi, Jeannette would not be where she is today – a comedic gimp with only a ¾ inch leg length discrepancy. We are eternally grateful for the phenomenal care Jeannette received and could not think of a charity more deserving of our best efforts to rise to meet the challenges of this race.

Please look to the Children’s Insider Blog for inspiring stories from patients, the community, and the latest news and happenings with Children’s National Health System:

(Reggie taught Jeannette as much about horses in their 5 year partnership as the previous 20 years of riding, at least.)

Any contributions toward our goal are appreciated more than words can express. But we will sure try! In addition to the eternal gratitude of our team, and the gratitude of the families under the care of Children’s National Medical System, contributions of the following amounts will also get you:

$25 = hilarious blog posts, gratitude + a one-of-a-kind coozie!

$50 = the above + an indescribably awesome shirt! (+$10 and that shirt will have long sleeves!)

$100 = the above + a 5’ x 7’ picture from the race printed and mailed to you!

$150 = all of the above + a post card from Mongolia!

$200 = all that + 8’ x 10’ photo from the race (your choice, Mongolian landscape or race action shot!)

$350 = that stuff = custom-made video with footage from the 2018 Derby

Again, thank you so much for your generosity!!


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Jeannette Lazzaro 
Virginia Beach, VA
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