Shropshire Star

Horse rider from Shropshire set to race in brutal 1,000km Mongol Derby

Never mind the Grand National, a Shropshire horse rider will be taking on the challenge of one of the world's toughest races next month.

Zoe Geddes with one of the horses, Silver, in her care

Zoe Geddes is one of only 40 people to be accepted into the Mongol Derby, considered the world's longest and toughest horse race and following a course of 1,000km on the Mongolian Steppe. It recreates the horse messenger and postal system developed by Genghis Khan in 1224.

Competitors - who have to demonstrate a high aptitude for riding - spend thirteen to fourteen hours a day in the saddle on wild horses, and the race lasts ten days - with generally only half finishing the course. Zoe will jet out to Mongolia to make her attempt on August 3.

The 28-year-old, who lives in Lydbury North and works with horses at nearby Walcot Hall, was accepted into the race in 2020 but it was postponed due to Covid which has given her more time to raise the £11,375 it costs to enter.

On top of the entry fee she has to cover air fares, which can cost up to £1,000, and she has been faced with some unexpected bills as well in the last few years.

Cancelled flights and insurance for the 2020 expedition left her out of pocket and she also suffered a fractured back when she was training which meant she faced hefty medical bills.

Although she has now raised the initial cost of the entry, she is crowdfunding for other associated costs including re-booked flights and the transportation of equipment needed to take on the gruelling challenge.

She said: "Since I was a child, I always dreamed of riding across the vast country in the wilderness and surviving off the land being alone with my horse as my only companion.

"Other than those childhood dreams, I'm not sure what made me want to do the Mongol Derby although I do love horses and have worked with them for years - but I think it was the challenge.

"The terrain will invariably include mountain passes, green open valleys, wooded hills, river crossings, wetland and floodplains and much more so it is probably the daunting nature of it which inspired me.

"It has been a tough two years. I was pretty much on target for funding for 2020 but couldn't go and then there were all the costs associated with cancelled arrangements and medical bills for my back - it has been hard both physically and otherwise.

"I am lucky though in some ways as it gave me more time to raise the money for the entry and the costs associated with it and I have some fantastic friends, well-wishers and sponsors including people I work for so I am very lucky and I give them all my heartfelt thanks."

Zoe is looking to make a final push towards £2,500 for the trip and to be able to donate a percentage to charities Mercy Corps Mongolia and race sponsors Cool Earth - to help her, visit