Hamilton woman given last minute chance to ride in the Mongol Derby

BRUCE MERCER/stuff.co.nz

Hamilton woman Isabella Campbell is about to race in the "Mongol Derby".

A Hamilton woman has been given a last minute chance to take part in the world's longest horse race, but she needs a leg-up to get there. 

Isabella Campbell made a late entry to the Mongol Derby, a 1000 km race across the wild Mongolian steppe following Genghis Khan's postal route. She found out she was accepted last week as one of 40 other riders from around the world. 

"Generally just over half the people make it over the finish line, so making it over that finish line is a massive goal, it's basically my life dream."

Isabella Campbell has been given a last minute chance to ride the Mongol Derby - the longest horse race in the world.
Bruce Mercer

Isabella Campbell has been given a last minute chance to ride the Mongol Derby - the longest horse race in the world.

However, before the start gun fires in two months time she'll need to scrape together $20,000 to cover her entry fee and flights. 

Campbell, a full-time animal health and husbandry student, has set up a Givealittle page to help her fundraising efforts. 

Not for the faint-hearted, the race is run by England-based group The Adventurists, who describe the 10-day race as "extremely risky".

"These are not holidays. These are adventures and so by their very nature extremely risky," said The Adventurists website, which reveals the company's various adrenaline-fuelled events around the world.

"You really are putting both your health and life at risk. That's the whole point."

Horses are rotated every 40-kilometres, so each rider is paired with 25 Mongol horses during the race.

Campbell and her seven-year-old daughter were nervous about the gruelling test, but Campbell said she put her life on hold to follow the race each year. She had to try it herself.

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"This is probably the most dangerous thing I have ever done... horses have always been my dream and there's so much you can do in New Zealand and I've done all the crazy trail rides, but I'll get to be in an amazing country and meet amazing people."

She'll race alongside earlier entries - former Taranaki man Maxim Van Lierde, who now lives in Hamilton, Ben Wilks of Katikati, Amy Johnson of Te Awamutu, and Porirua man Braden Cameron.

Campbell said many riders end up on a drip at some point during the race due to food poisoning. 

"I'm completely prepared for any sickness, but my biggest fear would be not making it over the finish line."

 - Stuff

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