St John’s College alumnus Ed Fernon wins world’s toughest horse race

Back to News

7 September, 2017

Ed Fernon (SJC 2007), an Australian Olympian, has won the longest and toughest horse race in the world – the Mongolian Derby

Twenty-nine-year-old Fernon conquered the gruelling Mongolian Derby, crossing the finish line with South African Barry Armitage in equal first after a nail-biting race to the finish.

The 2017 race saw 12 men and 24 women from nine countries riding 1,000 kilometres across Mongolia on semi-wild horses.  Mostly riding full tilt, they charge through the rugged terrain of the Mongolian Steppes, fording rivers, deserts and wide-open plains on a course that is designed to recreate Genghis Khan’s ancient postal system.  Competitors change horses every 40 kilometres and camp out under the stars or stay with local herders.

Fernon crossed the finish line of the Mongolian Derby exhausted and exhilarated.

“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,” he said.

Fernon’s love of riding inspired him to take up the modern pentathlon, mastering the five disciplines of swimming, fencing, running, shooting and show jumping.  He started the sport as a 20-year-old and four years later represented Australia in the 2012 London Olympics.

Needing a new challenge post-Olympics, Fernon did a charity ride across the snowy mountains.  The ride retraced the 1,100 kilometre journey of Archer, the legendary horse that walked from NSW to Melbourne before winning the inaugural Melbourne Cup in 1861.  “Following the Legend of Archer” raised over $50,000 for The Black Dog Institute, offering support for people suffering from depression and bipolar disorder.

Fernon is the guest speaker at the 2017 Johnsmen’s Association Annual Reunion Dinner held at St John’s College on Saturday, 23 September.

Ed Fernon 2