County Clare native Martin McMahon has been selected as one of only 40 riders to compete in the 2023 Mongol Derby, the longest and toughest race in the world.
He has accepted the challenge as a means of raising funds for three charities close to his heart – Pieta House, the Irish Cancer Society and MS Ireland – and is now embarking on a major fundraising drive to enable him to partake in this gruelling race and by doing so to assist his chosen charities.
This 1,000-kilometre race, which takes place in August annually, has no marked course, no packed lunches, and no beds to sleep on, with each race participant required to navigate and survive on his/her own, relying on their life and horsemanship skills to steer 25 semi-wild Mongolian horses during the entire race.
The rider changes horse every 40 kilometres to respect the welfare of the horse. A large team of experienced international and Mongolian vets check each horse before and after every stage to ensure that the horse has been well treated. Each rider must know how to deal with and navigate high passes, huge valleys, wooded hills, river crossing, wetland, dunes, and open steppe.
Commenting on why he has chosen to participate in this particular race, Martin said: “Seeking a challenge that would equate to the many mental and physical struggles people face in life – anxiety, fear, self-doubt, pain, hardship, loss, endurance – and through which I could raise funds for charities that help people to deal with or overcome their personal struggles, has always been an ambition of mine. The Mongol Derby meets all the criteria for the type of challenge I was seeking.
“Taking part in this extraordinary race is not for the faint hearted nor for anyone without the determination to succeed. I want to participate, and I want to represent Ireland in the best possible way – by coming home safely and as close to the winning podium as possible, raising the profile of my chosen charities and presenting them with much-needed funding.”
An experienced rider, Mr Mc Mahon is already undergoing rigorous training to give him the stamina and sharpen his capability for competing in the race; he is training at racehorse trainer Michael J Mc Donagh’s yard in Sixmilebridge.
Participating in this awesome race comes with its own challenge, that of raising the funds to compete.
“The outlay for participating in the race is as steep as the challenge. I need to raise €20,000 to enable me to participate in the first instance before I start raising funds for my charities, and this is where I need help.
“I have a great team working with me to reach our goal. They have set up a GoFundMe page, named 2023 Mongol Derby – Martin McMahon, and I am delighted with the support I am getting through this channel. We have held several fundraising events in the past few months, most notably a quiz night and taking a stand at the Munster Amateur Indoor Show at the Ennis showgrounds, who kindly allowed us to hold the show raffle to raise funds. We have a fun bingo night run by Loretta O’Connor coming up on 22 October in the Grove Bar and Restaurant in Ennis and we are working on a lot of other event ideas.
“It’s all hands on deck to get the best possible result from participating in this amazingly gruelling race. I want my efforts to help so many people through the funds I am setting out to raise for the three charities,” adds McMahon.