Get Rachel to the Mongol Derby!

$9,823 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 79 people in 7 months

The Mongol Derby is the longest and toughest horse race in the world.

Only 40 riders worldwide are chosen to compete. And guess what?


The race spans 600 miles over 10 days across the vast Mongolian wilderness. The idea is to follow the route from Genghis Khan's network (established in 1224 AD) for riders carrying information to communicate throughout the empire.

Riders change semi-wild horses every 25 miles, using only a GPS to track the route while enduring extreme physical and mental conditions. The terrain is rough, unforgiving, and breathtaking – high passes, deep valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetlands, sandy dunes, rolling hills, and open plains.

Mongolian horses are one of few breeds that haven’t been affected by outside influence and have changed little since the time of Genghis Khan. Measuring a short 12-15 hands (4 - 5 ft. from shoulder blades to the ground), they're incredibly sturdy and tough from living on the steppe in feral herds. More importantly, the #1 rule that the Derby enforces is to ensure horse welfare is adequate – so all horses must pass a vet check after every ride.



I've essentially spent my entire life riding, training, competing, and caring for horses, so my equestrian background is pretty diverse – with dressage as my main focus. I also like to think that I have better-than-average survivalist skills, thanks in part to my NOLS experience and in large to my undying love for the outdoors. That said, I have absolutely zero endurance riding experience, which is all about to change.

But why sign up for this crazy race? With no prize money and a hefty entry fee?

At its core, this race represents three of my greatest passions: horses, travel, and doing my small part to understand a culture different than my own and finding a way to give back. I spend the majority of my time behind a desk, saving up enough to explore the far corners of the world – and while some may opt for a trip to the tropics or an exciting new city, this is the kind of adventure that I really live for.

So that brings me to this next part.


The race takes place over 10 days in mid-August, 2019.

The entry fee for the race itself is £10,795 or $14,000 USD*. No small undertaking to say the least!

But all for logical reasons – here's what's included in the cost:

– Entry into the world’s longest and toughest equestrian event on the planet.

– 25 race horses, three training horses and a handful of spare horses in case of the unexpected.

–  More than 200 Mongolian families that feed, water and shelter the competitors at night. This also includes impromptu tack, equipment and bodily repairs.

–  A medical response team on call for emergencies (side note: there have been numerous broken limbs in the past, so this is legitimately leveraged).

– Local & international equine vets to ensure welfare of the horses and administer vet inspections after each ride.

– Race management and crew, including operations in Ulaanbaatar and race HQ in the UK.

–  A day-of technical training and two days of pre-race horsemanship & navigation training on the steppe.

– A team of drivers and interpreters to transport competitors.

– A one-of-a-kind custom saddle designed to fit the horses and stand up to the intensity of the race.

- My very own rider race page with satellite tracking so my friends, family, and international fan base can follow along.


That said, the following items are not covered in the entry fee:

– Flights to and from Ulaanbaatar, which total about $1,500.

– Travel insurance, which is about $260*.

– Accommodations in Ulaanbaatar before and after the race, which is about $300*. Not the time or place to live lavishly.

– All personal equipment needed for the race: survival gear, tools, appropriate layers, which total around $600. If you don't make it to a nomadic hut by sundown, you're camping out in rural Mongolia by yourself!

– Pre-race training, which will be about $1,000.

*Prices converted from GDP, exchange rates may fluctuate .

I also plan on contributing at least $5,000 of my own cash, as I feel strongly that having some skin in the game should be a requirement (metaphorically speaking, since I already am putting my actual skin in the game!).

So that means I need $12,660 more to get myself to the race and hopefully say in the saddle.

Then why $20,000?


Truthfully, I want to use my crazy adventure aspirations for good – bringing awareness and financial backing to the important work that The Nature Conservancy is doing in Mongolia. My additional goal is to raise over $7,000 that will give back to the nomadic people and protect one of the few truly wild places left in the world.

From their renowned land acquisition efforts to cutting-edge research that influences global policy, The Nature Conservancy is constantly adapting to take on our planet’s biggest, most important challenges. Their vision is a world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives.

The Nature Conservancy began working in Mongolia in 2008 with the goal of protecting the vast, unspoiled landscape of the grasslands for nature and people. They are actively working with the Mongolian government to help protect and sustainably manage 120 million acres, or 30 percent of the country by 2030. Through organized efforts, the TNC team has been able to help local communities gain secure access to grazing lands, implement sustainable practices, and improve basic income margins via food and fiber production (i.e. yak and camel wool). Plus they are working with partners to ensure development happens in the right way and in the right places, demonstrating how a Development by Design approach can benefit people, nature and business.

I've had the pleasure of of connecting with the TNC team based in Mongolia, and am very excited to learn more about the area and the challenges they encounter. I hope that my involvement in the race can positively impact their work, as their mission resonates deeply with my own life. 


At this point, I know what you're thinking. How can I become part of Rachel's team? What can I do to prepare and send her to the far corners of the world?

Here are the biggest ways you can help:

1. Donate to this page and help me secure enough money to get to the race while also contributing to The Nature Conservancy.

2. Make an in-kind donation, help connect me with sponsorships, media exposures or fundraising events.

3. Help me train for the race! This experience is going to push me to my physical and mental limits, and I am looking for friends to join me as I prepare for what's ahead. Lucky for me, I have access to all that the PNW has to offer to help hone my wilderness skills.  

4. Spread the word! Please share this page, follow my social media accounts (at the bottom of this page), and let friends or family know about what I'm hoping to accomplish.

Supporters can also follow my journey during the race by visiting my personal race page – don't worry, I'll be sure to post plenty of photos and videos when I'm not galloping down the steppe!

Thank you for taking the time to the read this an indulge in my crazy adventure, and if nothing else I hope this inspires you to find an adventure of your own. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I certainly don't take it lightly. With enough hard work, preparation, support, and determination, I know for certain that I can ride with the best of them and finish strong – and I can't wait for all of you to watch me do it!

"It is easy to conquer the world from the back of a horse"

- Genghis Khan


Facebook: facebook.com/rachel.roman.54
Instagram: @roman.equestrian
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I was lucky to be featured in a recent Talbot Spy article, check it out here: https://talbotspy.org/talbot-countys-rachel-roman-rides-with-pride-in-the-mongol-derby/

It’s a little after dawn somewhere in a remote part of the Mongolian Steppe. The rider has just been helped onto a native and semi-wild Mongolian horse. The temperature is brisk—in the mid-30s and does not foretell the almost 80 it will be later in the afternoon. If all goes well, the rider will travel 75-100 miles today on a path which loosely follows the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan in 1224. But this is not a guided re-creation. The course is not marked, and the rider must rely on their skills and a GPS tracking system that will get them through the over 600 miles (1000km) adventure. They will stop every 25 miles at horse stations (uutuus) to swap horses.

By 8PM, they will have traveled 12-14 hours, and a nomadic host family will give them dinner and a place to rest for the night. With a lot of physical and mental stamina, this will be the routine for the next 7-10 days. With a lot more luck, they may be in the 35-40% who finish the race. This is the Mongolian Derby, also known as the longest and toughest horse race in the world...
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This weekend I had the pleasure of going on back to back rides with Derby veteran Sophia McKee. Neither of the rides were more than 6 miles long but any chance for me to get out of the ring is a beneficial training opportunity. There was some rain so it was also a good opportunity to test out my Derby clothes and experiment with different layers. There is an 11 lb. weight limit on what you can carry during the race so clothing must be selected very carefully.

On the second day I go the opportunity to “canter” up a long hill to the top of the trail head. I was on Sophia’s fantastic endurance horse Katie. This horse is an amazing athlete, all I had to do was hold on and try and stay out of her way. We went flying up the hill, the first half was exhilarating and then after a while I realized I had no control which turned out to be a slightly terrifying concept for me. Sure, in the past riding my own horses there have been moments when I thought I was “out of control” but in reality I was just going too fast across the diagonal during a dressage test. Dressage by definition is “the training of a horse to perform special, carefully controlled movements as directed by the rider”, key word being controlled. Flying up a winding hill on a horse is the opposite of that, and flying across the steppe on a Mongolian horse is the furthest you can get from control.

My new training goal is to find and embrace horse situations where I am NOT in control. Sophia gave me some excellent advice on Derby control mindset- think back to when you are a little kid on your pony and all you want to do is go fast. As I am speeding across the steppe trying to stay on my Mongolian horse I will try to reflect back to riding my pony Butterscotch and “racing” him up and down the field. Hopefully that will help me give up control and just enjoy the ride.

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Vets make the Mongol Derby possible and are on hand to support horse welfare throughout the race and more!

A fleet of international and Mongolian veterinarians are on staff with the Derby team to make sure all horses are coming in and going out safe and sound. Each horse must pass what we would call a "Pre Purchase Exam" in the regular horse world in order to run in the Mongol Derby. Each horse selected to ride is presented by the herders for a veterinary check over or “road worthy” certificate prior to their official selection and training for the race.

The heart and lungs are auscultated with a Stethoscope, the horse’s gait is checked for lameness, and the horse’s teeth are checked to ensure that horses are 4 years of age or older. If they meet these criteria they are then accepted as Derby steeds.
Not only do they vet and ensure the welfare of every single horse that is used in the derby, but the derby brings world class veterinarians to the isolated Mongolian steeps that otherwise would go without veterinary aid and treatment. This means that numerous amounts of non-derby horses, livestock (goats, sheep, yacks, cattle) and dogs are presented for veterinary consultation. Even people at times!

The race is currently looking for more vets to join the team to help during the race, anyone interested should send a CV to the Adventurist ( https://www.theadventurists.com/adventures/mongol-derby/)
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Happy Monday! I am very excited to announce the first in a series of supporter give aways. As a way to say thank you for your support, those that have donated to my race are automatically entered into a series of give aways.

This week’s fantastic prize is a “Sprout Day”, graciously donated by @Eat Sprout. The winner will receive a day full of locally sourced, organic, Non-GMO, nutritionist-designed, chef-crafted, ready-to-eat meals. If you are not already familiar with Spout, they are setting the pace on healthy and locally sourced food that is accessible to all.

Names will be drawn at random on Friday. Please share this opportunity with friends!
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Raised by 79 people in 7 months
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