Training For The Mongol Derby With Deirdre Griffith

Tell us about this race in Mongolia!?

The Mongol Derby is the world’s longest and toughest horse race. It is a recreation of Genghis Khan’s messenger system over 1000km (625 miles) of the Mongolian Steppe.

Competitors ride Mongol horses and switch every 25 mi to a new horse. Horses are rightly vetted at each stop to make sure the rider has taken proper care of them during the ride. It is designed to be tough on the rider and easy on the horse. A rider will ride about 25-30 different horses during the race.

How long have you been training for it?

I applied in August of 2019 and was accepted January of 2020. I was originally scheduled to race in August 2021, but Covid postponed it until July 2022. I’ve been training for 2.5 years now.

What has your training entailed?

Training for this race has been an incredible journey and I’ve explored a lot of different modalities. Riding is always the top priority.  I’ve also been focusing on increasing my base fitness by strength training, hiking, running, skinning snow king in the winters, cross country skiing, and cycling.

Apart from base fitness I’ve been doing physical therapy, Rolfing, and Craniosacral Therapy.

I’ve completed 4 horseback endurance races: riding 100-mi in April 2021 and three 50-mi races in April 2022.

I’ve also been meditating and visualizing.

You recently injured your hand training? How has that affected your training?

Breaking my hand really put a damper on the plans I had to ride most of this summer. Mentally, I had to accept that I was not going to get in all the hours and miles I had planned. I also took it as a sign from the universe to take a beat and just rest for a while.

Photos credit to Evan Carter

How has the gym helped your riding?

Strength training has been able to target muscles used specifically for riding. My low back used to get sore during extended trotting rides and by training my core and back, I was able to ride without pain in my races this past April. I have seen great gains in my base fitness, training my HR to the zone it will be in while riding for extended periods of time. The consistency and accountability to a coach to show up 2 times a week has kept me on track.

Are you feeling mentally ready?

I’m feeling as prepared as I can for an experience that is inherently impossible to train for.  I know I’ve done everything in my power to get ready, and now the rest is up to some good luck and fast horses.

Track Deirdre’s race LIVE here….good luck Deirdre!!

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