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Fernon wins the world’s longest and toughest horse race in record time

18 August 2017

MODERN PENTATHLON: London 2012 Olympian Edward Fernon has added winning the gruelling Mongol Derby to his impressive list of achievements.

Fernon, 29, crossed the finish line with South African Barry Armitage in equal first, setting a new world record for the fastest time to complete the race. Fernon finished in seven days, riding 12 hours a day in some of the toughest conditions in race history.

The Mongolian Derby, featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest and toughest race, is a 1,000 kilometre trek through the rugged terrain of the Mongolian Steppes, is the toughest horse race in the world and recreates Chinggis Khaan's legendary empire-busting postal system. Riders change horses every 40km and stay with the local herders or camp under the stars.

The race is contested by professional, semi-professional and enthusiastic amateur riders competing for the derby crown .The 2017 race saw 12 men and 24 women from nine countries riding 1,000 kilometres across Mongolia on semi-wild horses. It puts to the test the competitor's survival skills, horsemanship and sheer endurance as they ride semi-wild horses and endure unfamiliar food and terrain.

Horses will often injure the participants if badly handled, and riders are also given penalties if they overwork the tough Mongolian ponies.

"Regardless of winning, what I came here for was to challenge myself, give it my all, and I've done that. I'll sleep well tonight," Fernon said straight after the race.

“Competition at Olympic level is such an intense experience and the desire to keep competing and challenging myself is how I found my way to the Mongol Derby.”

Fernon, who grew up on his family farm in Wagga Wagga, has always loved riding horses, although he didn’t become serious about it until deciding at the age of 19 that he would take up the sport of Modern Pentathlon.

If you ask him his purpose in life he’ll tell you ‘to excel in life’s adventure.’ This seems quite obvious when you speak to the man who can claim representing Australia at the Olympic Games after picking up the sport only a few years prior, spending five weeks riding the Snowy Mountains by horseback, launching a successful property business, summiting the highest mountain in the Southern Hemisphere and now being crowned winner of the world’s longest and toughest horse race.

Fernon lives by the ‘WIN’ mentality or as he describes it ‘What’s Important Now’, something he learnt from a chance encounter with Michael Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, during training for London, 2012. To excel in sport, business or life you need to win the moment, and the most important moment is now.

Fernon always dreamt of competing at the Olympics and set himself the challenge of modern pentathlon. Having never tried fencing or shooting before, and with a fair amount of improving to do in the swim leg, Fernon set his mind to task while studying at Sydney University and gained selection for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Ranked 111th in the world going into the Games, Fernon posted one of the fastest final run times for a credible 27th in the gruelling event.

Following his return from London, Ed embarked on an 1100km ride on horseback from Braidwood, NSW to Melbourne, retracing the legend of Archer, raising over $50,000 for the Black Dog Institute, which researches and treats mood disorders. It is something close to his heart, his mother having struggled with depression for a decade. 

Alongside his athletic pursuits, Fernon has recently carved out a career in property development, setting up his own company, Freedom Development Group. Since starting the business Ed has acquired a number of development sites in Penrith and other areas of Western Sydney. Ed also worked on 88 Angel St, Newtown, a multi-award winning townhouse project that gained significant attention for its environmentally friendly construction and earlier this year launched, Escarpments Estate in Sydney’s Blue Mountains.

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