People have raised money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service in plenty of innovative ways over the years and Queenslander Will Comiskey is about to add to them when he takes part in the world’s longest and most epic horse race.
The Mongol Derby, running from August 4 through to the 14th, recreates Ghengis Khan’s ancient horse messenger system, giving people from around the world the chance to ride 1000km across the deserts, swamps and steppes of Mongolia on semi-wild horses.
Adventurers like Will, originally from central Queensland, will attempt to ride up to 160km a day, navigating independently and changing horses at 40km intervals.
Many don’t finish the gruelling race.
No stranger to the antics of horses, Will has done rodeo and polocrosse, but based on the advice of friends who have attempted the ride in the past, he expects it to be the biggest challenge he has in his life so far.
“At night-time you live with whoever you can find,” he said. “You may have to camp with people who are completely oblivious to what’s going on.”
Water bottles are filled from whatever water can be found along the route, there’s no shower facilities for the whole 10-day journey, and contestants eat whatever the Mongolian families eat, which Will has been told is mostly offal in a broth.
“I’m only allowed to take 5kg, so that will consist of a jacket, a sleeping bag, strapping tape and medications,” said Will.
He’s also going to have your average barter items – dog clips and tailormades – to help ease his way across the country. Another thing he’ll be doing is keeping a close eye on the horses he rides.
“I’m pretty sure they don’t give us the best plant horses,” he said. “We’re riding typical Mongolian horses. Some of them don’t have any mouth, so I imagine I’ll be trying to point them in the right direction and letting them go.”
To prepare, Will has been riding horses to muster his cattle on agistment whenever he can.
“I was keen to race as a challenge to myself, then I thought it would also be a good opportunity to raise money for the RFDS,” he said. “Lots of my work is in western Queensland and they offer a great service.”
He’s started a fundraising page at https://give.everydayhero.com/au/will-comiskey-mongol-derby and is offering two days of his own labour for people who make a donation and put their name in the comments section, as a prize.
”I wonder what my two days work will be,” he laughs.
Whatever it is, it won’t be as hard as what he’s undertaking in Mongolia.