100 miles across a frozen lake in the depths of Outer Mongolia. By Any Means…

 

100 miles across a frozen lake in the depths of Outer Mongolia. By Any Means…

In a remote corner of North-Western Mongolia lies Lake Khovsgol: One of 17 ancient lakes in the World over 2 million years-old and which contains the World’s purest fresh water. The shores are lined with ancient stands of boreal forest and packed with Wolves. It is serene, hostile, stunning, intimidating. In winter, the ice freezes across its entire near-100-mile length to a depth of over a metre thick, creating for Rat Race the ultimate adventure challenge course. This is the Mongol 100 – the most surreal, audacious and hauntingly beautiful adventure challenge known to Man. The objective is to traverse the entirety of the lake from north to south, by any means: Foot, skate or bike. It is also the inaugural journey in the brand-new Rat Race Bucket List Series of global adventures.

This challenge is open to all comers. It is hard; make no mistake. Perhaps the hardest thing you will ever take on. Not just because of the physical challenge. It is cold. Very very cold. That cold will test everyone; whoever you are and however capable you are. But our mantra is for you to get to the start line and we will help you get to the end. And in so doing achieve something extraordinary.

Rat Race is the UK’s largest and most respected adventure event operator. We have catered to over 1 000 000 customers in nearly 15 years of operation. ‘The 100’ will of course unfold with typical Rat Race flare, expert event management and unwavering commitment to safety throughout.

Join us as we re-write the map of adventure and lay down what will undoubtedly become an instant classic.

Монголд тавтай морилно уу.

DAYS: 8

(3 logistics days, 1 briefing/ admin/ kit check day, 4 days on the ice)

DISTANCE: 100 miles maximum

(exact distance will always vary depending on exact route taken across the ice)

DATES: 3rd March – 10th March 2019



TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Traverse up to 100 miles from north to south across the entire length of frozen Lake Khovsgol
  • ‘By Any Means’ – choose to run, walk, skate or bike it
  • Drive the length of the lake to reach the start-line in our 30-vehicle event convoy, before making your way back ‘By Any Means’
  • Experience a true wilderness, ancient boreal forests, traditional ger camps and temperatures of down to -40 degrees celsius
  • Insertion and extraction to/ from the lake by internal flights
  • Be part of the World’s most surreal adventure
  • Finish amongst the ice sculptures of the renowned Khovsgol Ice Festival

INCLUSIONS

  • Fully supported including 4x4s, sweeper crews, professional medics, full race safety comms network, safety evacuation and event extraction system, professional campsite crews
  • Fully way-marked route, checked for ice depth and constantly monitored and patrolled by our experienced local guides
  • 3 Pit stops per day whilst on the route – featuring energy foods, hot and cold drinks
  • Catering provision including some breakfasts and overnight food provided, plus a wilderness camp reindeer feast (see the ‘FOOD‘ tab below to see what food is provided, when and where) plus hot water provision throughout
  • 7 nights accommodation: Permanent ger camp (4 nights), wilderness ger camp (3 nights) with mattresses, wood-fired heated gers and toilets (thunder boxes or long-drops)
  • All in-country air and road transfers from Ulaan Baatar International airport and back
  • High value finisher’s mementos including T-shirt, medal and other secret items
  • Satellite tracked for safety and supporter interaction (see info on electronics in the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab below, under Camplife, WiFi and electric/electronic devices) and provision of flares for emergency assistance
  • Overnight bag transfers from camp to camp
  • After event party, slap-up feast, beers, vodka and access to the Khovsgol International Ice Festival

Sunday 3rd March

Arrive Ulaan Baatar International Airport. (Most international flights arrive early morning). Be met by our team and transfer for our internal flight to Murun (flight from UB airport to Murun will depart approx 1600 on 03/03/19 arriving Murun 1800 local time). There is the opportunity to leave non-essential kit (casual clothes etc) at the airport in secure storage. See more about mandatory event kit in the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab under ‘Mandatory Kit List..’. We then transfer to Murun by air (2 hrs) flying over hundreds of miles of mountain and forest wilderness. Upon arrival at Murun we will transfer by road to Khatgal, on the southern shore of Lake Khovsgol (1.5 hrs). Accommodation is in a permanent cosy ger camp at Khatgal (See the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab to read about what to expect in our camps). A slap-up meal and drinks are provided to welcome you to Mongolia after your long journey, plus some local entertainment.

Monday 4th March

Enjoy your stunning and surreal new surroundings and get used to life at between -20 and -40. See the ‘LOCATION‘ tab to learn more about the cold and the general environment. After a hearty breakfast we will complete kit checks today, plus provide safety briefings. For those biking and skating, you will be asked to complete a small proficiency test on the ice. There is also the opportunity to view the incredible sculptures of the local Ice Festival. You can also stretch those legs on the ice itself and ‘feel it for real.’ Accommodation will again be in our cosy permanent ger camp at Khatgal and we will again provide meals.

Tuesday 5th March

We will rise at first light and board our transports for the journey from Khatgal to Khank at the northern end of the lake. This journey is an adventure in its own right as we ride in convoy over the entire length of the frozen lake. Today will allow you to see the route itself and will give you immense confidence in what lies ahead. We will stop for lunch ‘al fresco’ on the ice and continue towards our toasty permanent ger camp at Khank, arriving in mid to late afternoon. A hearty dinner awaits, before you hunker down in preparation for what lies ahead.

Wednesday 6th March

The Mongol 100 begins! From the start line metres from your ger you will strike out south down the lake, heading for our first overnight camp on the eastern shore. Distances will always be approximate, due to the route taken to provide safe passage (see ‘THE COURSE‘ tab to find out more about the route and safety on the lake). 3 pit stops will be provided each day, at approximately 10km intervals and you will cover (approx.) 40km today to reach your first wilderness camp. You’ll also likely spend a good bit of time today ‘sorting’ your clothing in this first stage of the challenge and managing temperature – layering particularly. See the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tabs for more info on kit. Accommodation will be in gers in the first of 3 true wildnerness camps, with a log burning stove in each one and a roaring communal fire around which we will congregate in the evening to share tales from day 1. See the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab to find out more about camp life and facilities on this event.

Thursday 7th March 

Day 2 sees us aim for the island in the middle of the lake and to our second wilderness camp. By now you may be getting used to your mode of travel and to the endless bangs, rumbles and crashes emanating from underneath your feet. Pinch yourself every now and then and remember where you are – running, riding or gliding across a frozen lake in Mongolia! Accommodation is again in one of our stunning wilderness camps, nestled on the edge of the island with views over the lake towards both shores.

Friday 8th March

Another long day on foot over (approx.) a marathon’s worth of icy terrain – by now the legs will definitely be feeling it but hopefully you’ll be in a good rhythm. The route will provide safe passage to our third and final wilderness camp on the shore of the lake, amidst the ancient boreal forest which envelops the whole World at this latitude. We will serve up an amazing feast of reindeer meat and livers around the huge open fire.

Saturday 9th March

The fourth and final stage brings you across another 30 – 40km stage and right back to where it all began at Khatgal, at the southern end of lake Khovsgol. The finish line will be established amongst the ice sculptures of the Ice Festival. You will feel astonished at your achievement as you sail through it, having completed quite probably the most unique, memorable and emotional event you’ve ever done.

Tonight is now all about the party. Those who know Rat Race will know this is as much a part of the event as the event itself. Enjoy a cracking local meal, event video highlights on the big screen, presentation of your finisher’s medals, special edition finisher’s T-shirts and other very secret and special mementos before partying the night away with local music, local food and perhaps the odd vodka and beer, all laid on by us in tribute to yourselves and your mighty achievement.

Sunday 10th March

After a morning sorting kit, viewing the ice sculptures once more and saying goodbye to our warm Mongolian hosts, we saddle up for the return trip to Murun by road, to connect with our internal flight back to UB (flight will depart Murun for UB approx 1200, arriving UB 1400 airport on 10/03/19). Upon arrival at UB, the event itinerary finishes but if you wish for onward transport into UB city to perhaps stay for a night or two, or to delve deeper into Mongolia for other adventures, speak to us and we can arrange extension itineraries. A popular option may be 2 nights in UB in a comfortable 5-star hotel with spa, guided tour of UB and a trip out to see the incredible statue of Genghis Khan atop a huge steel horse, some 1.5 hrs outside the city. Or choose to connect with the Trans-Siberian Express and enjoy the overnight trip from UB to Beijing; or ride it 4 days all the way back to Moscow and onwards to Europe!

*NOTE THAT TIMINGS AND ITINERARIES ARE APPROX AND OUTLINE AND MAY CHANGE

This is a very unique event in a very cold environment. Whilst much of what you need is ‘standard’ cold-weather outdoor and athletic gear, there are some specialist items that you cannot do without and there are some ‘comfort’ items that we will insist you bring in order that you are protected from the extreme cold. We outline here what ‘the event’ provides and what you are expected to provide. Then below you will also see the mandatory kit list. This list will be made more detailed as we get nearer to the challenge but for now it gives you a very firm snapshot of what gear you will require for this challenge.

Rat Race will provide:

  • 4×4 Vehicle support throughout, including sweeper service, medical support and pit stop food and beverage provision. See Food/ Accommodation/ Transport page or more details on the pit stops and other trip catering provisions.
  • Satellite tracking and GPS routing device: Rat Race will provide ground-breaking satellite tracking, with units which allow us to see where you are at all times for your safety. It also allows your loved ones and supporters to keep track of your progress, should you wish to share. HOWEVER, please see the guidance on electronic equipment in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab, as the extreme cold does affect these devices as well as your own electrical equipment.
  • Flares for emergency use.
  • Bag transfer from camp to camp. You take a day pack and we carry the rest.
  • Special-edition Race Bib to go over all items of clothing (lightweight fabric)

The participant will provide:

Their own footwear, running gear, daypack, plus a larger hold-all sized bag for overnight gear (strict size and weight limit applies: 23kg maximum (same as most airline limits).

If you are skating, you will need detachable back-country skates, and skating or x-country skiing poles plus a helmet. If cycling, you will need a fat bike with spiked tyres, plus appropriate clothing. For more guidance on the choice of run, skate or bike, see the section on this in the ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. For more info on specialist kit required for skating or biking, see kit list below.

For camp, you will bring your own sleeping bag and we insist that this is a good quality down 4- season bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 25C. This is a global 4 season bag (not a UK 4 season bag, for example). Cutting corners on this item is a mistake. Whilst the gers can get toasty, they can also be very cold when the fire goes out, so your sleeping bag needs to be first-rate. See more below on ‘items you cannot live without.’  A headtorch plus overnight essentials like toiletries, some loo roll and books/ entertainment devices will also help, although see the guidance on electronics and liquids, below! (Hint, they don’t work very well when it’s this cold). You will also need a roll-mat.

We will provide all other items of camp equipment, including the gers themselves and mattresses. (You will sleep on a mattress and use the roll-mat on top, to help with insulation from the ground, which makes the mattress cold). Please note that there will be no charging stations or power provision for devices at the wilderness camps so bring your electronics fully charged and expect for limited performance from some devices. There will be limited charging opportunities at the permanent ger camp on nights 1, 2 and 3 and in the permanent ger camp on the final night.

The other things you will need is a visa for Mongolia and some Evacuation Insurance, together with a decent travel insurance policy. More is explained on the visa process in the ‘FAQ‘ tab under ‘Do I need a Visa?’ and you can read about insurance requirements in the ‘FAQ‘ tab under ‘Do I need Insurance?’

Mandatory Kit List and advice/ guidance on kit for this event

Items that you cannot live without

These items are common to all participants and have been put in bold at the top of the list as without them, you will simply suffer in this environment. With them, you will be comfortable.

  • A 4 season down sleeping bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 25C
  • A foam roll mat will do but the much better choice is a therm-a-rest or other self inflating sleeping mat
  • Balaclava (and spare)
  • Spiked shoes or spiked/ studded attachments for shoes, like these
  • Heavy-duty down jacket
  • Good gloves of varying thicknesses

Mandatory kit for all participants

Clothing

  • Base layer(s)* Multiple base layers for top and bottoms, plus spares
  • Mid layer(s)* Multiple mid layers for top and bottoms, plus spares
  • Outer layer* Good insulating outer garments for top and bottoms. These do NOT need to be waterproof (in fact, it is better if they are not). Precipitation is negligible in this area, so insulation is king, not waterproofing. For moving on the ice, lightweight down and loft-style outer layers are best. Windstopper-style and soft-shell trousers and tights are recommended for bottoms
  • Socks* Minimum of one liner sock and a thicker sock. Plus spares. 
  • Liner gloves – fingered**
  • Outer gloves – fingered**
  • Over mitten or down/ loft mitten**
  • Hat (plus spare)***
  • Balaclava (plus spare)***
  • Neck gaiter, Buff, Ratrag, snood or fleece tube (plus spare)***
  • Goggles****
  • Sunglasses****
  • Underwear: A good pair of wicking underpants or sports knickers/ bra. Plus at least one change of underwear
  • Footwear***** with spiked/ studs embedded in the soles OR a spiked/ studded attachment that can be fitted to the shoe or boot, like these.
  • Daypack: A small daypack (15 – 30l) to carry spare clothing, med kit and mandatory safety gear plus food/ drink. NB items like gels and energy bars are best kept in pockets close to your person, so they do not freeze. As is water.
  • Sleepwear kit: Base layer top and leggings, gloves, hat and socks. This should be kept just for sleeping ensuring you always have a comfortable, warm and dry layer.

Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

There are a number of factors that go into getting a good night’s warm sleep:

  • Make sure you are properly fed and watered after the days exercise. Your body will relax better if it is nourished.
  • Ensure you have dry clothes to wear, a soft beanie hat, gloves and warm socks are all required.
  • Some mild exercise before bedding down in order to raise the heart rate and boost circulation will really help. Star jumps, press up and sit ups are good examples.
  • Use a sleeping bag liner – silk is a good choice because it is small, light and extremely effective but a micro fleece liner is also good.
  • Insulate from the ground. Although we provide mattresses for comfort they’re not good at preventing cold transfer from the ground. This is why a therm a rest or similar sleeping mat is essential.
  • Insulate from draughts. The easy way to do this is to be in the middle of the tent and surrounded by people, but someone needs to be at the edge. A down jacket or your Mongolian deal do an excellent job too when layed over your sleeping bag.
  • Get right inside your bag and close the drawstrings above your head. If you get a draught use a jumper or other layer to block up the hole.
  • Don’t try to dry damp clothes in your bag. Hang them from the Ger roof and they’ll dry overnight.
  • Have a Pee bottle ready, leaving the Ger during the night is not pleasant. Just make sure you close it up properly to prevent any leaks!! If you do go outside, remember point 3 before getting back in your bag again.

* How many base layers, mid layer, outer layers or pairs of socks shall I wear? And what materials?
The answer to ‘how many’ is a very personal one. Some people run hotter than others and therefore how many garments you wear in which configuration is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. What we will say is that you should plan to dress for your coldest-ever conditions but remember that you are exerting yourself. Which means that you need to wick sweat away from your skin and to the outer layer as efficiently as you can (otherwise it condenses between layers and snow forms inside your clothing). Our recommendation is a minimum of 2 base layers, 1 mid layer and 1 outer layer to be available to be worn at all times whilst out on the ice for your TOP. Plus MORE spare clothing (mid layers are advised) to be available to you in your day bag in case you need to add layers to this system.

For your legs, it’s more of the same in terms of choice, although runners may want to stick to tights as much as possible. That’s fine, although you will need multiple pairs and softshell/ windstopper outer garments (tights or pants) are advised. Our advice for all participants would be to start with a good next-to-skin leg baselayer tight and then layer with another tight OR looser fitting baselayer leg garment, then your outer leg cover. This may be a tight or a trouser BUT in all cases, you should have a spare outer layer leg garment in your day pack too. So that’s 2 baselayers and an outer, with the ability to stick another outer on, on the route, if required.

In terms of materials, this is also somewhat personal in nature, although there are some clear precedents in terms of performance. Synthetic fabrics are good for wicking; merino wool is also good for wicking and has very very good insulation properties, (and doesn’t smell) although some people find it a bit itchy for next-to-skin base-layers. Silk is also a good natural fibre for next-to-skin and is extremely comfortable, although requires more base-layers to be added above it as it is very thin. Our advice is to experiment and select the materials that work for you. There is no shortage of good base-layer technology on the market.

Socks kind of fall into the same camp as above. There are loads of different technologies and some people wear lots of pairs. Others don’t. Our advice would be a minimum of a wicking liner sock and then a good chunky woollen-based trekking sock (Merino wool, or Merino blended with other materials are great. Mongolian Yak wool socks are also fantastic and you can buy them locally at Khatgal). Your shoes or boots need to be loose enough to fit this sock combo, too. The tighter it is inside your shoes, the less the sock layers will trap the warm air between layers. Tight shoes = bad for insulation, therefore.

** Argh, the great glove debate
Somewhat like the base-layer and mid-layer choice, this is down to personal preference and how cold or hot you run when you are exerting yourself. Some people love a nice lofty down mitt to feel toasty and snug all day long. Of course, you lose dexterity. Some people like a thin merino or silk liner glove and then a fairly lightweight, windproof glove for ultimate dexterity with zips and kit. In all cases, layering is still the key here. Our advice is unequivocally to start with a very good ‘liner glove’ (a glove in its own right; not a built-in liner glove to a bigger glove, if that makes sense). Something like this Merino number works very well. (Link to icebreaker line glove). Then layer up with a ‘standard’ winter fingered glove: This can be a single or twin skin glove at whatever thickness suits you, although we’d advise having a ‘thin’ one and a ‘thick’ one ready so you can chop and change depending on comfort and conditions. Then over all of these, have a mitt ready to go that you can deploy over the top of everything if the wind-chill goes sky-high and/ or if the temperature plummets. It’s a lot of gloves, we know, but the ability to vary the system is key.

*** What sort of hat do I wear and what else do I put over my face?
Full face cover is a good idea. This means eyes, nose, ears, mouth, head and neck. You won’t always need that level of cover but you frequently will, especially if a little bit of wind comes our way. The tools for the job are listed in the mandatory kit list but by and large they are a hat, a balaclava and some sort of cloth or fleece tube that goes around your neck. All of these items come in different shapes and sizes. Choice is part of the solution but there are some good general rules here…

Balaclava and neck tube: These come with noses, without noses, breathable mouth holes, fully encased neoprene numbers, fleece-lined, windstopper materials, etc. You then augment the balaclava with a Buff or necktube that can be pulled up over your mouth and/ or nose for added protection. This combination is a very good one as it’s flexible and the neck tube can be lowered or raised accordingly. It is mandatory to have spares of both of these garments. This is because, due to breath and other perspiration in the facial area, over the course of a day these garments will totally freeze up. So you do need spares to change these out when they get too stiff and to allow the other pair to dry out overnight. Our clear advice would be to look for windstopper fabrics in at least one of your balaclavas, as this is very vey good at keeping wind-chill off the face and back of the head, plus ears.

Hats: The age-old saying is ‘if your feet are cold, put on a hat.’ The insulating properties of the hat are demonstrated in no greater way than in this environment. And it’s pretty much a key to instant warmth. There are lots of them. A good old-fashioned woolly hat is ideal and insulates well. As do shell-based mountaineering hats with fleecy linings. By far the warmest hat available to you however is a fox fur Mongolian hat. There is more info on local dress within the ‘LOCATION‘ tab but our clear advice would be to ‘wear the fox hat.’ We understand some folk will view that advice with some trepidation or distaste. But it is not a vanity thing or a fashion show out here; it is simply the finest insulating headpiece known to Man and the Mongolians worked that out 1000s of years ago. They are available readily in the area and cost around $35 for a very good one. We’d advise you to buy one locally and support local trade.

**** Eye protection
Another area where perspiration causes a bit of an issue is with goggles steaming up on the inside. Our clear advice is ONLY to bring very good goggles with you (which does unfortunately mean expensive), which have clear anti-fog coatings and technologies. They make a huge difference. Unlike when in a ski resort and whistling down a slope at speed may well clear a steamed-up goggle, here the steam instantly freezes and you cannot clear it.

Sunglasses area a good ‘second solution’ for if your goggles do steam up, although they do tend to steam up quickly themselves. They are however a bit easier to clear than a big set of goggles.

Simply put, wear goggles and if they steam up and you can’t clear them due to freezing-up steam, revert to sunnies.

***** Footwear
Clearly this is a very personal choice. You have some defined options however. If you are running, you will want something lightweight, with good grip, either with ice studs built into the sole (of which there is plenty of choice) OR that you can attach a detachable ice stud or spike device to. It is personal choice. If hiking only, a sturdier and warmer boot is advisable but again, it must be compatible with detachable ice studs. Most are.

Your choice as a skater is limited to those boots that you can fit a detachable skate to (more on this in the skating kit section, below) but you must also be able to fit detachable ice studs to the boot, for those sections where you cannot skate and must walk/ run instead.

For bikers, it’s up to you but again, the shoe must be capable of being able to travel over rough ground and be able to take the ice studs. More on this in the biking section, below.

Camplife

  • A 4 season down sleeping bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 25C
  • A foam roll mat will do but the much better choice is a therm-a-rest or other self inflating sleeping mat
  • Head-torch with spare batteries
  • Thick down jacket for use in camp (separate to outer layers used on the route)
  • 2 x Water bottles – preferably with insulation
  • Knife, fork, spoon set
  • Plastic plate and bowl
  • Expedition meals*
  • Personal toiletries and medications**
  • Antibacterial wet wipes (baby wipes are best)***
  • Roll of toilet paper***
  • Anti-bacterial handwash***
  • Suncream
  • Blister kit/ adhesive blister patches
  • Holdall (to put all of your spare kit and overnight kit that you won’t be carrying in your daypack

* See more about catering and what you need to bring/ what we provide in the ‘FOOD’ tab.

** See guidance on liquids in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION’ tab.

*** See notes on personal hygiene in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION’ tab.

Other recommended personal items (not mandatory)

  • Pee bottle*
  • Books
  • Playing cards
  • Face, hose and hand moisturiser – very good for weathered skin from the cold
  • Lip balm – good for those cracked lips
  • If you can play, a mouth organ or Ukelele (!) may go down well around the fire!
  • Music devices**
  • Phone**
  • Camera**

* What is this!?
Once you have crawled out of your sleeping bag, pulled on your boots and some clothes and gone to the toilet in the middle of the night, you’ll know….! A pee bottle prevents you having to leave the comfort of your ger and is simply a bottle to pee in, at night. You then empty it in the morning down the toilet (If it’s not frozen!).

** See guidance on electrical and electronic equipment in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION’ tab.

Safety and specialist ice equipment

  • Personal med kit. (Spec to follow but will include bandages, gauze, steri strips, antiseptic (spray or cream), plasters and rubber gloves)

Whilst on the ice

  • Whistle on lanyard around neck or attached to outer clothing
  • A flare will be provided to you by the event and must be carried at all times
  • A satellite tracker will be provided to you by the event and must be carried at all times, near to your person inside garments (so it does not shut down)

Mandatory kit list for cyclists

  • Fatbike with spiked tyres*
  • Flat pedals (no cleats whatsoever, as you may need to cover some ground on foot whilst on the route and we require you to have the ability to attach ice studs to regular boots or shoes)
  • Bike box for transport of bike to/ from event (NOT cardboard box or soft bag; it does need to be a proper hardshell bike box)**
  • Tools, spare inner tubes, pump
  • Helmet
  • Shoes***
  • Gloves/ overmitts****

* We recommend 45NRTH Dillinger tyres. They are expensive but by Jovy do they do the job. Read more on why a fatbike is required in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab (as opposed to a standard mountain bike).

** It is a fairly expensive business bringing a fatbike with ice tyres to Mongolia due to the size and shape of the box and the need for specialist ice tyres. Which shouldn’t put you off if you have the gear or if you want to obtain it. It is just something we want to flag up-front. Read about weighing up the choice to fatbike in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

*** You will need a system here that keeps your feet toasty while on the bike. Flat pedals means you can wear what you like, but note that keeping feet warm on the bike is a challenge given the extreme cold, so think carefully about shoes and about overshoes, gaiters and the like. We are not making anything mandatory here as it’s a personal choice. But you need to plan to keep those feet warm at all costs or it could end your event quickly

**** As above, hands on the bike will get cold quickly if you don’t have the right gear. The glove advice for all participants still applies for cyclists, but we are going one stage further and insisting on overmitts as mandatory, for obvious reasons.

Mandatory kit list for skaters

  • Detachable back-country skates*
  • Back-country x-country ski/ skate touring boot*
  • Poles (wither skating poles or x-country skiing poles). No basket is required
  • Helmet – rated for snowsports (multisport helmets are also fine)

*This is a very particular type of event for a skater. There is no real known comparison. The terrain varies from glistening smooth black ice that you will glide across serenely (sometimes!) to crust, snow-covered sections, seams and other different surfaces, that are impossible to skate. The ability therefore to detach skates and switch to standard boots with ice stud or spike attachment for traversing the ‘lumpy’ stuff on foot is key. The skates must therefore ONLY be detachable touring-style kit. No figure-skating gear or hockey boots please! The choice is narrow (which makes it easy to select kit!) but there are absolute clear contenders for the job. We recommend Lundhags T-skates with Rottefella binding which will be on sale at a competitive price nearer to the event date. These fits most x-country touring boots due to the Rottefella binding. Email us to find out more.

For boots, a x-country touring boot is what you need. The key is absolutely that it must have the Rottefeller binding if using it with our recommended skates. It’s a very straightforward and interchangeable system. It’s just that the kit is quite specialist so there is not much choice in the market. These boots are however widely available in Scandinavia (and of course online via various retailers) so we would suggest you identify some boots and then purchase the skates from ourselves when you are ready to do so.

Read more about the skating option vs running or biking in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. Anyone can skate – you don’t need to be a seasoned back-country pro. See ‘THE CHALLENGE’ tab for some advice on skill level and getting ‘skate-ready’ however.

This is without a doubt the single most specific blog post I’ll ever write. Its also the unapologetically longest! This potentially has a maximum intended number of readers of 100 per year!

 

Read Lee Stuart-Evans’ Kit List and top tips for Multi Day Running on the Ice.

 

We have rated this challenge as Technical rating 6/10 and Endurance rating 9/10.

What does this mean?

Technical rating 6/10
This is a committing proposition with a very good support system around you. It does not require super-human skills to access, however, it does require an immense amount of grit and a good commitment to kit selection and admin. All 3 modes of travel (foot, skate and bike) are open and accessible to anyone who has a decent level of fitness and who is up for a challenge.

Running/ trekking
You can walk or run the foot stages. They are long and arduous but are not massively technical, with the terrain being (give or take) dead flat. You will need ice studs or spikes of course, like these. See more about the run or walk options in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

Fat biking
Whilst you may not have experienced a fat bike previously, it is ‘just like riding a bike! The terrain is certainly very unusual but a fat bike with ice studs is absolutely the tool for the job. See more about biking in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

Skating
When was the last time you skated 150km + across an entirely frozen lake? See more about the skating choice in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

 

Endurance rating 9/10
Participants should expect a long outing here over 4 cold, long days. This is a mighty Challenge. As with all Rat Race events however, the concept is designed to be tough, but achievable. This is not a ‘sufferfest.’ More-so it is a stunning journey through a sensational and surreal landscape. The undertaking should not be under-estimated of course, particularly in respect of the cold and gear selection. A good dose of general fitness is required and will stand you in very good stead for completion of the job-in-hand.

A word on Mongolian food can be found in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab under ‘Local Food’.

Provided within the trip costs are:

Meals at permanent ger camps

  • Including hot and cold options for breakfast, hot dinner and simple lunch. Hot drinks and water are also provided with all meals. Hot drinks are provided at breakfast also. Meat will feature heavily and we cannot commit to vegetarian, gluten free or vegan options. See below for advice for intolerances and dietary requirements.

Meals at wilderness camps

  • Hot water is provided at breakfast, pit stops and at dinner for the use by participants in the preparation of their own expedition foods (feeze-dried meals recommended). These meals will be carried in the participants’ overnight holdalls. Beverages to mix with hot water at camps (such as blueberry tea, sea buckthorn juice, English tea) will also be provided. The exception is at camp 3, where a reindeer meat feast will be laid on by the organisers.

There are no participant cooking facilities provided at the camps BUT there is hot water provided at all camps, allowing you to prepare your own freeze-dried and packet meals as you wish at all times.

See below for information on gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan provision plus other special dietary requirements.

Meal schedule

Sunday 3rd March
Service starts with hot dinner provided on arrival in Khovsgol.

Monday 4th March
Full catering service provided – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tuesday 5th March
Full catering service provided – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wednesday 6th March
Participant’s own expedition foods for all meals. Pit Stop service from organisers on route and hot water provided at breakfast and dinner for preparation of hot meals and drinks.

Thursday 7th March
Participant’s own expedition foods for all meals. Pit Stop service from organisers on route and hot water provided at breakfast and dinner for preparation of hot meals and drinks.

Friday 8th March
As above with the addition of a reindeer meat feast at the final overnight wilderness camps.

Saturday 9th March
Hot celebration dinner provided upon arrival back at Khatgal, including vodka and beer.

Sunday 10th March
Hot breakfast provided prior to departure from Khatgal. End of catering service.

Pit Stops

  • We will offer savoury and sweet snacks plus hot and cold water at the designated pit stops.
  • Please note that the provision whilst on the route does not consist of ‘full meals’ and will be more snack-based grab n’ go options, to reflect the journey being undertaken. You are welcome to use water at the pit stops for your own hot drink choices and we will also have hot drink choices available to mix. We would also advise that if you have sports nutrition products that you know work for you, please bring them with you.
  • See below for information on gluten-free and vegan provision.

Alcohol (!)

  • Complimentary alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink (vodka and 3 beers each) offered with our compliments at the finish celebration dinner; available for all participants to celebrate a job well done!
  • We will have beers available to purchase at all campsites, run on a credit system (pay at the end)

Participants will cover costs for:

  • All meals pre and post Challenge (outwith the times and dates stated above)
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks purchased in the permanent ger camps
  • Any other items purchased by participants at these camps (e.g. crafts, Yak socks, fur and woollen hats)
  • Alcoholic drinks on sale at the permanent and wilderness camps
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at the post-Challenge celebration dinner (except the ones outlined above from ourselves)

What will I be eating and drinking?

When we provide the catering, it will be hearty and ample. Example meal menus for permanent ger camps will be made available in advance, (although menus are always subject to change). For a bit more info on Mongolian cuisine in this area, please see the ‘LOCATION‘ tab under ‘Local Food’.

Expedition meals

For the time ‘on the ice,’ the catering relies the most part on hot water provision from the event team to service participants’ own expedition meals. These are typically freeze-dried in foil bags and can be surprisingly tasty. There are various suppliers doing all manner of options for you to stock-up on in advance and/ or buy from our on-site store when you arrive in Khatgal. Don’t rely on this entirely however, as stock will be limited and we might not have your favourite dish!

Gluten-free, Vegan or other dietary requirements

If you have food intolerances or you have made food choices in respect of vegetarian or Vegan diets, the catering we provide in Mongolia will not necessarily be brilliant for you. We are being open and up front about this now. That does not mean you cannot come and that there won’t be anything to eat. There are veggies on offer, dishes are frequently accompanied by rice and soups are often made with a veggie base. The diet also features some delicious fish soup dishes too. Certainly for Vegetarians therefore, depending on how strict a code you enforce, there may be options to ‘mix and match’ a bit!

But the bottom line is this: If you have a dietary requirement, the baseline service from our catered ger camps is meat heavy. We will always have lashings of hot water available however, so the preparation of your own meals mixed with hot water; both inside the permanent ger camps  and (like everyone else will do) in the wilderness ger camps is absolutely fine.

So please do come, eat what you wish (and don’t what you don’t) and fill your belly with your own yummy things, mixed with hot water drawn fresh from the lake.

Permanent ger camps

Upon arrival at Khatgal at the southern end of the lake, you will spend 2 nights in a permanent ger camp facility, followed by a night in one at the othe end of the lake and then again in Khatgal at the end. More info on the style of camps and what to expect from camplife can be found under ‘Camplife’ below.

Wilderness Camps

This is the essence of the event experience and we will pride ourselves on the quality and ambience of these campsites, although these are undoubtedly very rustic. Ride, skate, hike or run into camp and enjoy a night under a star-filled sky, a roaring fire and plenty of tales of derring-do from the ice. We will provide gers, mattresses, toilets, and hot water service. There will also be beer available to buy. Absolutely no WiFi or phone reception however – but then that’s kind of nice, right? Medical facilities will also feature.

Camplife

What can I expect?

Quite simply, you can expect a campsite experience that will blow your mind. All of these sites are in stunning lakeside locations and you will sleep in traditional wood-fired heated Mongolian gers (you might know them as yurts) amongst ancient boreal forest, with the sounds of wolves howling in the trees. The sunsets and the sunrises are always spectacular, as the sky is always blue and the ice is always shimmering. There is no more authentically local experience than this.

Calling these campsite moments life-affirming or life-changing experiences, alongside the clear epic nature of the challenge itself, is no cliché.

These are not however fully serviced European camp sites with WiFi (Although some do have it!), on-site shops, hook-ups for camper vans and the like. The toilets are long-drops or ‘thunder boxes’ and in all cases, it is very much what you would class as ‘rustic.’ Our permanent ger camps have more facilities than the wilderness camps (such as a communal warm lodge for dining, power sockets and (slow) WiFi) and our wilderness camps are, well, as the name would imply! More on the two types of camps below.

Campsite layout and facilities

There are 2 types of camp we will use, which have many similarities (you will sleep in gers at all times) but have some varying characteristics. At the start and end of the route at Khatgal and Khank, the permanent ger camps will serve up hot food, have cold beer available to buy (no need to chill it as you just walk outside and it’s ice-cold), vodka, local crafts for sale (and fur hats), some power outlets, 3G phone signal and some internet provision. There are no showers at any of the camps and you will find that, owing to the nature of the trip and the cold, you’ll not really miss a shower too much (and you will probably wear the same clothes for 4 days, too).

During the event itself, our wilderness camps have zero phone signal, zero WiFi and zero power. That’s more like it, eh! The surrounding woods are teeming with wildlife (including wolves) and the sound of the wood-burners burning through the night and the crackle of the huge campsite communal fires will bring you right back to one with the nature all around you. This is Nomadic existence as it has been practised in Mongolia since the times of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire thousands of years before.

At the permanent gers, you will sleep between 4 and 8 to a ger and the gers will be allocated to you. At the wilderness camps you will sleep 8 to a ger. You’ll get used to this quickly as the more folk to a ger, the warmer it is. Result!

It can be cramped, but there is space in the ger roof to hang kit to dry and the camaraderie of this environment will form quickly. You’ll love it.

What’s it like at minus 40?

It’s cold – make no mistake. Pretty much the only thing not frozen at this temperature is the vodka. If you put anything in contact with the ground, it will freeze (inside and outside the ger). If you walk outside the ger, frost will start forming on your eyelashes immediately. But hey, that’s why you’re here, to experience such extremes. With good personal admin, good layering and simple steps to keep ‘one step ahead’ you will cope fine, just as the local folk who experience these temperatures every year are fine.

Is the ger warm?

Yes and no but mostly yes. They can get too warm believe it or not. The general cycle is for your wood-burning stove, located in the centre of the ger, to be stocked every 3 hours or so by our ‘fire fairies.’ You do not need to touch, light or stock the fire. Which means it gets very hot. You may be taking off clothes and coming out of your sleeping bag. But as the fire cools over this period, the interior of the ger cools too, of course. At the end of the cycle it can get cool (although never ever as cold as outside) so that 4 season sleeping bag is 100% required.

Will I just get too cold and never warm up?

No. if you get cold while out on the route, quick action to ‘layer-up’ will prevent this going any further. If you do get too cold out there, we will intervene with re-warming in vehicles and the application of more layers, with Deels and other Mongolian layers such as furs. We need you to manage yourself as much as possible of course in order to prevent you getting too cold. In all cases, it is a case of layering up before it becomes a problem. If you feel yourself getting cold, put on more clothes.

In camp it is similar, although we have immediate respite with a big communal fire, which gets incredibly hot and which is lovely to sit up against, warming hands, feet and all other apendages. And of course you will have your gers, with a roaring wood-burning stove and the body-heat of 7 others, plus a 4 season sleeping bag to crawl into. Remove all wet clothes and change with dry ones and big thick layers (like your down jacket and Deel) and you will be toasty in no time.

WiFi and electric/ electronic devices

When it gets really cold, things stop working. Batteries discharge and gizmos simply give up. They do come back to life when exposed to higher temperatures however (and if they have battery charge remaining). What this means is that your phone will almost certainly stop working at some point. But you can minimise the effects, by keeping electronic devices as close to your body as possible and by then sticking them down your sleeping bag at night.

Liquids

The same is true of liquids. Water, toothpaste, creams, gels. They all freeze. Keep things close to your person before you need to use it and the chances are it will thaw out enough for you to use it. On the route, we will provide water (cold and hot) from our pit stops, preventing you having to carry too much in frozen bottles, although we always require you to have some on board, when you leave a pit stop. It is easy to stop drinking and get dehydrated due to the perpetual freezing of water, so you do need to keep on top of this and when presented to you, always take a sip!

Going to the toilet 

For info on what to expect, see ‘Going to the toilet on the route’ in the ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. For camp, it’s a little more straightforward (although no less cold!). At all camps we will have ‘long drop’ toilet cubicles or ‘thunder boxes’ that you sit on. It’s a cold few minutes wrestling with layers of clothes and kit to ‘do the deed’ and there is definitely no dwelling with the Sunday papers involved. Take your own toilet roll, get in and out quickly and return to the warmth of the ger as soon as you can. At night, the services of a pee bottle can do wonders for morale. To find out what the hell that’s all about, see the ‘Other recommended personal items’ section in the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘.

Personal Administration and Organisation of kit

With so many jackets, socks, gloves, baselayers and other guff enveloping you; and the constant on/ off of gear into and out of the gers with extremes of hot and cold, you could be forgiven for losing a mitten in the melee. The target is not to however, for as soon as you lose something, finding it can be a real challenge with everyone’s gear spread across the place too. You need to practise keeping on top of this stuff; organise stuff into different bags (compression sacks are great) or compartments on your bag and if stuff gets damps through sweating on the route, hang it out and dry it out so it doesn’t become a problem for the morning. Just keep an eye on your stuff and don’t let the admin-monster swallow you whole!

Personal Hygiene

This one’s important, too. Which is why we insist on mandatory anti-bac wipes and anti-bac handwash. Bugs spread around people living in close quarters fast; and whilst our environment is relatively sterile on germs and nasties given the temperature, going to the loo and not washing hands and handling food with dirty hands are the dangers. Keep washing those hands and you’ll not go far wrong. Any cuts and scratches should be attended to with antiseptic early too, to prevent infection taking hold in this remote environment.

 

Provided within the trip costs are: 

  • Transfer from UB International Airport to Murun by internal flight (and return)*
  • Road transfer from Murun to the lake at Khatgal (and back again)
  • Transfer from Khatgal in event convoy over the ice to the start area at Khank
  • During the event all of your overnight belongings will be transported and sweeper vehicles will transport YOU to the next camp if you require withdrawal from the event
  • A sweeper service will be able to extract you from the event entirely if you wish (and take you back to basecamp at Khatgal)

*Outbound flight from UB airport to Murun will depart approx 1600 on 03/03/19 arriving Murun 1800 local time
Inbound flight will depart Murun for UB approx 1200, arriving UB 1400 airport on 10/03/19

Participants will cover costs for:

  • Travel to and from Mongolia
  • Any onward travel after arriving back at UB International Airport at the end of the itinerary on Saturday 10th March 2019.

Getting to Mongolia

The event takes place in a remote corner of North Western Mongolia. However, getting there is actually quite straightforward. (And as you will find, the latter parts of the journey are quite an adventure in their own right).

You need to get yourself to Ulaan Baatar International Airport, the capital of Mongolia. Our itinerary starts there and ends back there 8 days later.

Getting to Ulaan Baatar (or ‘UB’ as it is known locally) is easy. There are services via Moscow on Aeroflot, MIAT Mongolian Airlines and other routes that connect on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul, plus services from China and the Far East. Flight time from Europe going via Moscow is approximately 4 hrs to Moscow and then 6 hrs onwards to UB.

You get yourself to the airport and we then meet you and your gear there. We take over from there and provide an internal aircraft transfer to the regional town of Murun, some 1.5 hrs drive from our base at the bottom of Lake Khovsgol.

Onward tour options after the finish of the Event

If you want to stay on for a bit in UB or to discover more of Mongolia, we can help. Talk to us about our 2 days UB extension itinerary, or about other local options, with which our knowledgeable local travel team can help. For those who want to see the other end of the spectrum terrain-wise, we have a gem of a Gobi Desert trip planned for departure immediately afterwards, from Khatgal and headed up by our expert local guides.

Perhaps you want to travel back on the Trans-Siberian or take onward train travel on the overnight train to Beijing? OR just us for an incredible and audacious assault on previously unclimbed peaks in the Mongolian Altai Mountains.

Email us here and give us an idea of what you are looking for or for more info on any of the above extensions.

 

What is format of the event?

The Mongol 100 is a fully-supported 8 day adventure event. 4 days are spent on the adventure itself, (on the ice) with 2 logistic days (getting there and back from Ulaan Baatar on an internal flight, provided in the trip cost), 1 prep and briefing day and 1 transit day ‘on the ice’ driving the route in reverse in convoy, to get to the start-line of the adventure at the northern end of the lake. Fully supported means we provide the lot – accommodation, event support functions whilst you are on the route, all transfers and travel ex-UB airport, the lot. We also provide catering, although owing to the expedition nature of the event, some expedition meals are required to be provided by the participant, which is explained in depth within the ‘FOOD‘ tab. For more on what is included, click the ‘Inclusions’ section above.

What’s so special about it?

Everything. Read more about the Challenge itself in the ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. Read more about the Environment in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab. This is a real adventure in a far-flung corner of the Globe, delivered with Rat Race flare and commitment to safety. It is truly one-of-a-kind. When was the last time you saw an adventure challenge from top to bottom of a frozen lake, by foot, bike or skates…!?

How far is the route?

The route is up to 100 miles. The exact final route distance is subject to change owing to the safety management we employ in defining the route on the ice. For more on that, see ‘THE COURSE‘ tab. For an overview map of the route with stages, see ‘THE COURSE‘ tab.

Is this a multi-day event?

Yes. 4 days. 1 stage per day.

How far is each stage?

Each stage is approximately 40km each, although the exact route is subject to change. It is also likely that the final stage will be less, probably nearer to 30km, although some stages may be longer. For an overview map of the route with stages, see ‘THE COURSE‘ tab.

I note you mention run, walk, skate or bike. Is it single discipline or multi-discipline?

It is single discipline. You select your weapon and off you go. See ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab to read more about whether you should run, walk, skate or bike.

Are there cut-offs? How long do I have to complete each stage?

There are cut-offs, although this is basically the amount of daylight available each day. We want everyone to finish and the amount of time available is genuinely the amount of daylight available to complete the job, from the published start time until nightfall (the start time always being after first light). If you do end up lagging behind and you really cannot make it in time, we will pick you up in an event vehicle (or horse and sled) and transport you to the overnight camp. You can re-start the next day if you wish. There is none of this ‘if you miss a cut-off you’re out’ stuff on this event. See more about the Challenge itself in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

Do I need to run if I choose to do it on foot?

No. There’s enough time available to walk it all, although you will need to sustain a decent average pace in order to get the job done. To read more about running, walking, skating or biking, see ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

How hard is it and how much training should I do?

It’s certainly a big outing. But it’s been designed for anyone – not just seasoned adventure athletes. That is the Rat Race way. We have provided some commentary on the nature of the challenge in the ‘SKILL LEVEL‘ tab and the ‘ratings’ we apply to it (Skill rating and Endurance rating) here. In terms of training, this is a personal thing, but a general training plan will be released shortly, which should act as an overall guide to help you prepare and get the most out of this epic adventure.

What type of terrain is it?

It is hard, smooth, thick ice. It is absolutely flat as a pancake. BUT the ice surface does change and it changes often. Big smooth black sections are interspersed with small snow-covered sections and large smashed-up slabs. Plus some really weird formations that look like ‘dinner plates’ or ‘jellyfish’ (depending on how you look at them!). Read more about the ice in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab.

Do I need to navigate my way along the route?

No. 100% no. Follow our marked route and where you interact with our team out there, simply go where they say.

What if I get lost?

See above. You won’t. You will all also have a satellite tracking device for us to see exactly where you are. We will also have a radio comms net in place for the event crew to talk to one another.

The visibility is so good and it’s so flat you will be able to see other participants (or our crew and vehicles) ahead and/ or behind you at all times.

You should not worry about getting lost. At all times our support team 4×4 vehicles will not be far away either. If you do step off course, we can see you (visually and on satellite) and we can come and get you.

What if I get hurt?

We have highly trained expedition doctors and paramedics on the event. So if you need assistance we will be there; similarly if you need or wish to withdraw from the route, we will extract you to the next camp; or if you want to retire entirely, we will transport you to the end of the route and you can wait in a nice toasty ger at our basecamp. You can either withdraw at a pit stop or you can flag down an event vehicle to boost you forward.

Where will we stay?

Quite simply, some outstanding places. To learn more about the accommodation we will offer at our permanent ger camps and our wilderness ger camps, see the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab.

What is included?

Check out the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab to see what we provide on kit/equipment. What is included as far as food/ accommodation/ transport is concerned in the adjacent tabs.

Is there any hazard from the wildlife on the route?

Not really. There are Bears in the local area but they are all asleep, hibernating. There are a lot of Wolves, but these are not a risk to a group of our size and our campsite staff will have rifles. Just don’t wander out of camp…!

Can I mix and match my disciplines and do a bit of running, biking and skating?

Well, if you are running and/ or walking, the chances are you will not have this option as you won’t have skates or a bike! But if you are skating, yes you can remove your skates and walk/ run as much as you want. Indeed you will need to at times as it will be impossible to cover the full distance on skates alone, due to ice surface suitability and debris. For the cyclists, in theory you can transit from bike to foot. If you do so, we will transport your bike to the end of the stage, so if you do decide to switch from bike to foot whilst on a stage, the bike will not be available for the rest of the day’s stage once you make that decision.

 

If I have skates or a bike, can I share these with my friends?

Yes, but in practice, this is only possible on consecutive days. So for example if you wish to ride the bike and swap it between a pair or group of you within a stage, this will be very difficult (as the bike will inevitably move a lot faster than the walkers or runners). If you wish for one person to complete a stage on the bike, then for another to do the next day’s stage and share it that way, that is absolutely fine. Do bear in mind however that whoever rides the bike will need a helmet and will need to satisfy us that they are competent.

The same goes for skates. If there are a group of you who wish to share skating equipment, you may do so in theory, but you will each need footwear with skate bindings. It is likely therefore that if you have footwear with the bindings, you will probably all have your own skates anyway.

How safe is the area and the country in general?

Very. This is a sparsely populated countryside area and the biggest hazard is slipping on the ice and hurting yourself. Mongolia is a very safe country in general.

What’s the weather like? It is really cold?

The simple answer is yes. It is not the absolute coldest time of year to visit though, so we may or may not get the fabled -40. But it is 100% definitely very very cold and dealing with those temperatures is a big part of dealing with this challenge. More info on the cold and the environment as a whole can be found in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab. Detail on the kit required to take on this behemoth can be found here.

 What equipment do I need?

There is a list within the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab of what is provided for you by the event and what we require you to provide. We will be adding more detail to this as time goes on, to assist in your preparations for this very special and unique event.  

How much special gear do I need to buy for this event?

Not much but there are some items you cannot do without. These are listed within the ‘Mandatory Kit’ section of the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab. If you are skating or biking, you will of course need that gear, which is outlined below the Mandatory Kit section.

If I am biking, do I need my own bike?

Yes. We do not have any hire bikes available for this event.

Why fatbikes and not normal mountain bikes?

You need the traction, surface area contact and the studded ice tyres that only a fatbike (with studded ice tyres) can provide. Trust us, that’s just the way it is and a mountain bike would be foolhardy for sure.

Still with biking. Is riding a fat bike hard? Or different to a ‘normal’ bike? 

It is exactly the same as riding any other bike. You peddle and it goes. It has gears and it has brakes. It looks just like a normal mountain bike except the tyres are, well, fatter. Absolutely nothing to fear.

Do I have to carry all of my kit with me?

No. This is a supported format, which means that we transport gear for you. You will need to carry a daypack, which will have food, water, emergency gear and spare clothing in it, so you will have to carry something. But not all of your kit. We will do the hard yards on your overnight supplies by carrying a bag for you from camp to camp, plus all of the camping gear. This is a large logistical operation and is part of the value offered in this very special trip.

What food will be available? Do I have to pay for food or is it included?

You will need to bring some of your own expedition freeze-dried meals but we also provide a good deal of food at various stages of the trip. There is lots of information on the food and beverage provision in the ‘FOOD‘ tab.

Can I bring supporters?

On the course itself, no. We have a convoy of 4x4s supporting this trip and there is no space to take passengers. We can however provide seats on the aircraft charter, extra beds at supporter rates in the ger camp in Khatgal (our basecamp at the beginning and end of the trip), together with catering so you can eat and stay together pre and post ice phase. For more information on this please email us as we can only offer this on a limited basis.

Can my supporters follow the action at home?

Absolutely. Our bespoke and unique satellite tracking system is on-part safety system and on-part giant online-viewing gallery. Your supporters can see you on the map at all times and follow your progress. HOWEVER, owing to the cold, some electronic devices do shut down. There is therefore a very big caveat on this point that not all satellite tracking may be active, all of the time.

What medical support is provided?

The best. Rat Race are renowned for their commitment to the very highest standards of safety management and medical cover. We will have multiple Event Doctors on the trip, plus paramedics and all of the gear and drugs required for such an undertaking in this environment.

How do I get to the start and away from the finish?

The itinerary is fully inclusive of travel from and back to Ulaan Baatar International Airport. For a full run-down on the itinerary, together with overview of these logistics, see the ‘ITINERARY‘ and ‘TRANSPORT‘ tabs.

What inoculations do I need?

Nothing fancy. The usual suite of ‘general’ injections is usual, such as typhus, tetanus, Hep-A and Hep-B. But nothing unusual or specific.

Can I run for a charity?

Of course. If you run for Children with Cancer and raise £5000 we will refund you your entry fee and throw in a free Rat Race backpack. How’s that for a deal! You are of course more than welcome to fundraise for any cause close to your heart, however. Find out more here.

Do I need a Visa?

Yes you do. Specially for this trip, we will issue Visas direct to you via the Scottish Honorary Mongolian Consul, which removes the need to adhere to the standard process, which involves an onerous trip in person to the Mongolian embassy in London, or your respective embassy in your home country. This is a special arrangement for this event and is open to all Nationalities, not just UK citizens. If in doubt on your national eligibility for a Mongolian Visa, please contact us and we can advise.

The standard ‘fast-track’ Mongolian Visa fee is still to be paid, as it would have been if attending the Embassy (£60 in the UK) plus a return special delivery postage fee of £6.70, if posting in the UK. The process is as follows (and does not need to be done until much nearer the time):

  • Pay us your Visa plus return postage fee (£60 + £6.70 = £66.70) by BACS or Paypal, or through the special link we will put on our website
  • Send us your passport via special or recorded delivery
  • Consul issues Visa sticker into your passport
  • We send it back to you via Special delivery
  • For international passport holders, you have the option of going with this service (plus a modest extra charge for international tracked postage) OR you may acquire the relevant Mongolian Visa in your home country

Do I need insurance?

Yes. You need a decent travel policy covering you for general travel to Mongolia and which covers participation in outdoor sports. You will also need what is called an Evacuation Insurance Policy, which is for if we need to send you back to Ulaan Baatar for urgent medical attention via a helicopter or similar. These policies can be obtained for around £10/ day and are only required for the time you are on the trip. We would recommend Global SOS; you can obtain a quote and/or purchase a policy here.

Can I volunteer?

Yes you can. We welcome support from across the Globe and if you do decide you want to come and work with us on this very special event, we will make sure we look after you. Plus you will be rewarded with an unbelievable experience in a phenomenal part of the World, of course. Click here to see the lowdown volunteering on Rat Race Bucket List events across the World.

 

About the area

Lake Khovsgol was formed over 2 million years ago and is one of 17 ancient primeval lakes on Earth. It is a true wilderness area bounded by ancient boreal forest. The lake itself contains 70% of the fresh water of Mongolia and 1% of the entire global supply of fresh water; owing to its geography it also boasts the purest fresh water on Earth. This truly is a journey into Frontier-country, where the Mongolian way of life has remained largely unchanged for 1000s of years and where Shamans, reindeer herders and Nomadic hunters ply their trade. At either end of the lake lies a village; each one is popular in summer with fishermen and other tourists. They are small places with a few shops, a smattering of permanent ger camps and bags of warmth and character.

Other highlights en route

The ice itself is the real star of the show, shimmering, gleaming and providing endless different reflections of the blue sky above. Wildlife is out there, although the still of the forest may be more captivating than the sight of a Wolf on the prowl…this is a truly mesmerizing landscape with bold sunrises, sunsets and a cacophony of winter colours during the day. Above all, there is a lot of ice.

The Environment

It’s quite simply like nothing you will have experienced, unless you have been here before. Mongolia has more guaranteed sunshine days than anywhere else (300/ annum) so even in winter, there is rarely not a blue sky day and it also rarely snows. But it’s intensely cold. Which means the ice is black, smooth and thick. The ground is frozen hard but not covered in snow. Ideal for our event. The forested hills team with winter wildlife like Wolves, boar and reindeer. The local folk are involved in subsistence farming, reindeer herding and tourism. The lifestyle is hard yet the places we go are welcoming and people are kind. Alcohol (vodka) and hot drinks feature heavily due to the cold, as does a lot of meat. Living in gers is common-place and that traditional dress that you’ll have seen in pictures of Mongolia is traditional; but it is also practical. Which means it is worn widely. It’s not worn for the tourists. It is worn out of necessity to the elements. There’s not much like this place – it is harsh, welcoming, unique and inspiring in equal measure. It also has a decidedly ‘frontier’ feel. You’ll love it.

The Cold

The cold in Mongolia really does stick to the back of your throat. Prizing open the doors from the inside of a building or ger can sometimes be enough to send shivers shooting up your fingers when you touch it and often, those doors resemble the inside of a fridge with the frost threatening access at the edges. The cold permeates anything that is not warmed by a constant heat source, such as the log fires and wood-burning stoves that are the heroes of the hour in these parts. The good news is that there is lot of wood to burn with the thick forests that envelope the landscape. There is plenty to be said about the cold and it is touched on heavily in the kit list sections (advice on layering) and in the section on camplife. But simply put, don’t believe those who tell you ‘there’s cold and there’s cold.’ This is cold. Folk who have been to Antarctica will tell you that this place is colder. It requires a solid approach to clothing, good personal admin on gloves and face cover and a hearty appetite!

One other thing to note: Whilst there is very little precipitation in Mongolia, therefore little snow (indeed it benefits from 300 days of sunshine) it does experience stiff cold winds rolling in from the Siberian anticyclone in winter months. These are fiercely cold. It can be very very calm or it can be consistently windy, especially across the lake. In such conditions, the wind-chill is an extra level of cold to contend with. Sorry!

The Ice

The thing on most people’s minds when they stand on the ice of Khovsgol for the first time is naturally ‘will it break.’ The answer is no. It’s about 1 metre thick and can take the weight of a massive truck. And of course when you drive onto it in a car, the obvious observation should be that if the car doesn’t go in, you won’t go in either. Still, it is unnerving. Especially when the sun comes up and the (relative) heat of the day starts to warm the ice, causing it to twist, turn, crack and groan. These noises sometimes rumble innocuously and sometimes they bang sharply and resemble thunder; or gunfire. It takes some getting used to. But rest assured, our route is carefully planned. The ice is used for vehicular transport at this time of year – indeed the lake takes over as the ‘main road’ to the Russian border when it’s frozen and the Authorities take samples and measure its thickness, establishing a line of safe passage across the lake for cars (and Ratracers) alike. Our team then build on this to ensure that all of the constant movement is taken into account and where seams open up, we avoid those area.

Seams opening up? Seems dodgy. Not really. Here’s a quick bit of science/ geography/ glaciology/ call it what you will. When the ice forms, it forms in chunks – not one massive ice sheet that stretches the length of the lake. These sheets are massive and are very very thick, so they are not going to break. But they do rub up against one another. Which is where you get seams. You get 2 types of seams: Sometimes the plates rub and push against each other and end up overlapping one another, a bit like the tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust. These form compression seams, which take the form of a load of smashed-up ice along its length. These seams aren’t too bad as basically there is nowhere for any water to go and the plates are pushing against one another. No gaps, basically. The other type of seam forms where the plates pull apart, exposing water – wet seams. The water re-freezes very quickly when exposed but if a wet seam exposes itself, for a while, it is, well, wet. It has water exposed and it should be avoided. You can step over narrow wet seams (or drive across them very very fast!). And even larger wet seams aren’t that wide at all. Anyway, that’s what our team are there to do – to ensure we avoid those seams. Also, things happen very slowly. It’s not like you will be standing there and all of a sudden a seam will open up and you will fall in. That just is not going to happen.

So anyway, for a while, you may be distracted by the bang, crash, wallop of the noises emanating from beneath your feet or you may simply be mesmerized by the unbelievable splendour of it all – the black ice particularly has a certain allure with its fissures, cracks and air bubbles trapped in it. It is beautiful for sure – particularly when you get near shore and you stare down and see the bottom of the lake beneath 10m of water, sandwiched beneath 1m of ice. And you’re standing on top of it. Simply unbelievable.

The other thing that is quite remarkable about this lake is the sheer variety of the ice and how it freezes. From the pearlescent black marbled wonder which is as smooth as a smartphone screen, to the ‘dinner plates ‘ that have frozen in situ like gigantic bubbles; to huge smashed up blocks and frozen waves near to shore. It makes for a continually-changing scene, keeping you on your toes for sure but mesmerised by such unique splendour.

Local customs and language

Mongolia has 2 main religions – many people ascribe to Buddhism but the ancient animist religions are also followed by many – notably shamanism. In this part of North-Western Mongolia, shamanism is a big deal.

If you’re lucky you may get to see a Shamanic ritual. It is disturbing and fascinating in equal measure.

Other than that, folk are folk. There are cell-phones, internet and the trappings of modern life interspersed with the constant reminders that you are in a very unique and different land.

Outside of the event team (and even inside our Mongolian team) not many Western languages are spoken. Mongolians have their own very unique language and Russian is also understood fairly widely.

Tipping is generally not required and haggling for products is generally not the norm either, outside of the black markets of the towns and cities.

Local dress 

As stated above, the traditional Mongolian dress of a ‘Deel’ is worn extensively throughout the countryside. It’s a thick heavy outer garment ‘robe,’ tied at the waist with a cloth belt. Most winter Deels are Yak-wool lined and are extremely warm. You will get the opportunity to purchase one and it is great to just stick it on over your clothes and wear it as a ‘dressing gown!’ The other things worn a lot are furs and pelts. Don’t be surprised to see many of the crew wrapped in full fox, beaver, racoon and wolf fur, draped in full animal pelts and wearing huge fox-fur hats. As you will see on our mandatory kit list, the fox fur hat is considered something of a kit hero for this event. This clothing is extremely practical for these conditions, so please remember that if you do have moral issues with the fur trade back home, (where of course it’s largely fashion and not function), out here, the fur is there for a reason.

Local food

It has to be said now that Mongolians are big on meat and not so big on veggies and fruit. Vegan is possibly not a word they have a translation for. That said, the food is tasty and plentiful. Soups with cabbage, other veggies, mushrooms and meat dumplings are delicious and the quality of freshly shot boar and reindeer from the woods is simply out of this world. As you would expect of the cold winter environs, the food is fairly heavy, although staples like rice and milk and cheese-based products constantly lighten it up. The hot drinks are also delightful: Honey tea, blueberry tea and the uber-nutrient-rich sea buckthorn juice are all cracking beverages. In short, it’s a surprising cuisine with loads of new things to discover. It is not just ‘meat and potatoes’ as it can be in some cold climes. One other word of advice: Embrace the meat on your plate – it may not be beef. They serve and eat a lot of goat in Mongolia. Horse and camel are also to be found on the menu although the chances are that meatball you’re eyeing up is probably goat, boar or beef.

Key Facts

Approximately 30% of the population is normadic or semi-nomadic.

The main religion of Mongolia is Lamaism, or the Yellow sect of Tibetan Buddhism. 53% of the population is Buddhist with most of the remaining population categorised as non-religious. Animist religion (Shamanism) is also practised widely in some parts of the country and in the Khovsgol region specifically.

Mongolia is the world’s second-largest land-locked country, after Kazakhstan.

Mongolia’s capital is “Ulaanbaatar”, or “Ulan Bator”, which comes from the Mongolian word “Ulayanbayatur”, meaning “Red Hero.” 

According to shamanic tradition, a person’s soul is called a “Wind Horse” (хийморь, Khiimori). The “Wind Horse” is depicted on the official Emblem of Mongolia.

Mongolia is the most sparsely populated nation in the world, with around 4.3 people per square mile.

In Mongolia, there are 13 times more horses than humans, and sheep outnumber humans 35 to 1.

Snow Leopards are native to Mongolia, and one-third of the world’s population lives there. A Snow Leopard cannot roar or purr. The two-humped Bactrian Camel is also native to Mongolia.

Mongolia is said to be derived from the word “Mongol”, which is said to be from the word “mong”, meaning “brave.”

Due to its high elevation, high latitude, landlocked location, and the effects of the Siberian anticyclone, Ulaanbaatar is the coldest national capital in the world, where the average annual temperature is -1 degree celsius. In winter it can dip to – 40 degrees and below.

In 1962, William Coperthwaite introduced a modern version of the yurt to the United States, after reading an article in National Geographic magazine with pictures of Mongolian gers. A yurt as we know it is a ger and a ger is a yurt!

The Mongolian traditional costume is called the “Deel”, which is similar to a caftan or old European-style folded tunic. The winter versions are typically yak-wool lined and incredibly warm.

Popular sports include wrestling, horse racing and basketball. 

 

The Challenge

What is the route?

It is a one-way solo crossing of Lake Khovsgol from north to south. Choose to do it on foot, by skate or by bike. The route is entirely on the ice of the lake. That ice surface varies in style and terrain, although of course it’s also entirely flat. Those running garmins and the like will see around 4m total height gain per day (mostly where you step over ice rubble patches!). The route is not an exact 100 miles, (it will probably be a little less) as it will ebb and flow with the safest established route passage across the ice, set by the Mongolian Authorities and our local team of guides.

Is it safe? 

Yes. It is remote, there are Wolves and we are operating on a floating race surface of lake ice. It is also very, very cold. This is all true. But this event is well considered. We are not in the business of taking blind risks for our customers or our crew. People live by the lake and have done for centuries. We have recce’ed it, we have completed the challenge itself, we have studied the ice data and we have excellent local guides plus the support and assistance of the local ice inspection agency. There are risks, such as open seams between lake ice sheets, but these risks are managed to ensure people do not come face-to-face with these risks. See more about that in ‘The Ice’ section of the ‘LOCATION‘ tab.  The wolves won’t attack us in camp as we are in large numbers (and don’t go on the ice) and our local guides have rifles too.

Will I fall through the ice?

It’s an obvious question but no, you won’t. The ice is between 60 and 120cm thick, which is more than enough to take the weight of large trucks (and does, as the lake is used as a road in winter). If our support vehicles aren’t going through it, nor are you! Elementary physics! There are some common-sense steps we will employ to prevent this risk however; which largely relates to seams, where the ice sheets pull apart sometimes. See the ‘LOCATION‘ tab for more information about the Environment, which has some more extensive information about the ice itself. Important to note that the Mongolian Authorities will have been out to mark a safe passage for vehicles (which we will largely follow) in advance of our event, so there is a lot of official science behind this process.

How hard is it?

Well, 100 miles over 4 days will never be a walk in the park, but add to that temperatures of up to minus 40 and a generally pretty hostile environment and this is a biggie. But we have designed it to be achievable. We don’t want you to fail. You need the right mind-set and for this one, you will need the right kit too. It is worth a shot; it has to be. When else do you get an opportunity like this.

Can I walk it?

Yes. In fact, even if you are a seasoned Ultra runner, you may be hard-pushed to run the whole thing due to the amount of clothing you’re wearing, ice conditions underfoot and generally the fatigue involved in operating in this environment. But we have designed it to be completed by a normal walker achieving an average pace of 2.5mph (including pit-stops).

How long have I got each day?

We have the hours of daylight. We won’t travel on the ice in darkness. We will start just after first light each morning and you have until 30 minutes before sundown. Which in general terms is around 10 hours per stage. Stage distances will vary (see below for why) but by and large, will be largely similar. If you do find yourself at the back and off the pace, we will scoop you up and shuttle you further up the field, although we will aim for this to be a last resort so you have your best shot at doing the whole thing by your own means of travel.

What if I get injured, or need to withdraw from a stage or from the whole thing?

Our medical team will be on hand to assist with injury and depending on the type and nature of the injury can treat or transfer you accordingly. If we need to get to you to urgent medical attention in a hospital, there is a hospital at Murun, 1.5 hrs by road from the bottom (finish) of the lake and approx. 7 hrs from the top (start) of the lake. We will be insisting that everyone has global evacuation insurance in place, in case we need to request a helicopter evacuation to larger medical facilities in UB. See here for what this is and what it covers.

If you need to withdraw from a stage, our vehicles will move you onwards to the camp for that night. if you wish and if you are up to it, you may re-start the following stage the next day.

If you need to withdraw from the event as a whole, we will have transport leaving at the end of each day’s stage for Khatgal (basecamp) at the foot of the lake and you will wait there until the event finishes. The staff in Khatgal may be able to assist in onward earlier connections back to UB but the fallback position is that you remain in warm ger accommodation at Khatgal at our basecamp and you travel back to UB with the rest of the event body, once the event has finished. For the days’ extra accommodation at Khatgal that you may require in this instance, a modest nightly fee will be levied, which will include board and lodging.

To run, to walk, to skate or to cycle?

Well, this is the essence of it. The Challenge is ‘By Any Means.’ This is the choice you will make and we welcome all 3 disciplines. You will note that we have not included ‘other’ means like skiing and kite-skiing (or kite-skating). You are welcome to ski, but there is normally hardly any snow and as such, the ice is hard, flat, smooth and terrible for x-country skiing on. Using kites could work, but you’d need to use them in conjunction with a buggy or skates. We are not geared up to accommodate the former and with the latter, frankly, we don’t fancy the risk profile, given the skating surface is not uniform throughout and a kite could take you into some decidedly un-skatable terrain too quickly for you to correct – risking falling injury. So the choice is: Foot, (run or walk, or a bit of both), skate or bike.

Running
It’s a very very unique running event: The thick end of 4 marathons back to back, over a running surface you have simply never experienced before. The ice does change consistency over the lake’s length but of course in general terms it is very flat. Head down, pace set, layers in place and keep plodding. You’ll notice the very hard nature of the smooth black ice sections; some hard tarmac road-running miles will help you prepare for this. But nothing really compares. It is very very hard underfoot. As you’d expect from solid sheet ice!

Walking
As above, but slower! Walking is clearly less high-impact than running and indeed most runners may well adopt a run-walk pace at some stage in proceedings, too. You may choose to or you may have to. But if you want to walk the whole thing you can. Trekking poles will help, as with all walking, alleviating the load from your feet somewhat. You need to maintain a decent pace (and as with all events, don’t dawdle at the pit-stops) but with some good mountain trekking and hillwalking fitness in the bag, you’ll be OK with the timelines we reckon.

Skating
What a treat. When was the last time you ice-skated 150km in a straight line? It is rarely ever (or ever, ever) done and frankly, the feeling of gliding over silky smooth black ice with the chink and crunch of the skates beneath your feet is just sublime. You will cover ground quickly on these smooth sections, but when you approach small snow-patches, seams or crust, you will grind to a halt on the skates. Time to detach skates and engage feet. It will be impossible to skate the entire length, but depending on conditions, you may skate ¾ +, which is a lot of skating in anyone’s book.

If you do decide to skate, you will need to satisfy us that you can in fact skate. Gaining the required level of skill is not outside anyone’s grasp however and some practice at a local ice rink will allow you to skate safely along this route. We will provide a link to our recommended skates, which you will be able to purchase from ourselves nearer the time.

The technique involved in this type of ‘back-country’ skating involves the skates themselves and skate or x-country ski poles. The action is very similar to that of x-country skiing ‘skating’ style and if you do x-country ski, you are well on your way to being comfortable on this set-up already. If you know your x-country/ Nordic skiing you will know what we mean by x-country ski ‘skating’ style. If not, go and have a look at youtube for x-country ski ‘skate’ style (or Nordic ski ‘skate’ style or Langlauf ‘skate’ style – it is all the same thing) and check out the skates themselves in action on the lake in our wee video here.

We will also ask you to wear a helmet, which is part of the mandatory kit list.

Biking 
Well, a mountain bike, a road bike, a cyclocross bike or a folding Brompton this ain’t. ONLY a fatbike with ice-studded tyres will do the job. And this is the only bike we permit. We cannot hire you one so you must bring your own, in a hardshell bike box and with all your spares ready to go. It will need to have mechanical gears, mechanical brakes and no suspension as hydraulic oil will freeze and DI2 batteries will fail. If you have a mechanical en route, it’s up to you to fix it (although of course we will come ad get you if it goes totally pear-shaped and you can’t get going again on the bike). A bike is definitely fast across much of the surface, but there are some tricky bits involving crust, seams and smashed up chunks of ice. It can be easy going and it can be hard going. Especially on low-pressure fat tyres with studs. It’s not a-given that it’s the easiest way to travel therefore and the cold is fierce on your hands and feet when sitting atop your steed. It’s also not cheap. Most airlines will charge you £200 each way for the bike, the specialist studded tyres tend to be £200 each and if you don’t have a fatbike already, you’ll need one of those too. But what a way to do it – when was the last time you rode a bike across a frozen lake in Outer Mongolia??

If you do decide to bike, you will need to satisfy us that you can in fact control the bike in this terrain and that you have a grasp of the basic mechanics of your machine. It does not require any great skill but we do want to ensure you are familiar with the steed you are about to ride.

We will also ask you to wear a helmet, which is part of the mandatory kit list.

A note on skiing

Some of you may be wondering if you can ski. Well, x-country skiing gear could work on some sections of the lake, but very very small sections on it. The fact is that there simply is not a high level of snow cover. Which means by and large, the surfaces are very hard – sheer ice and crust. It is simply not worth it on x-country skis. Hence, whilst you could ski, you would not thank us for bringing all your gear over and then having to carry it over most of the lake. If you are a x-country skier, skates are the choice for you.

Pit Stops

These will be situated approximately every 10km along the route and will be operated out of mobile vehicles, with hot and cold drink provision, plus some energy foods. We will have medical staff on hand immediately beyond the pit stops also. Re-warming vehicles will be used as a last resort for those who simply cannot get warm off their own bat.

Will I get too cold and get hypothermic whilst on the course?

It’s possible but only if you don’t follow the guidance on clothing and if you are slow in taking action to resolve if you do end up getting too cold. The absolute key is to ensure you ‘keep on top of it’ and if you feel cold, layer up some more. We will have re-warming vehicles at the pit stops if you are in real trouble; and we also have lots of ‘local layers’ like deels and furs to keep the cold at bay and to get you back to warmth.  We will also have vehicles (and horses with sleds) bombing up and down the route and if you need extracting as you are too cold whilst on the move, extract you and re-warm you we shall. We have plenty in play therefore to assist. But the onus in the first instance is on you to manage your clothing. That’s the best way to prevent getting too cold.

Going to the toilet on the route

This is a bit of an unusual one unique to this event and place. The lake is sacred to local people and peeing on it (or the other) is a big big no-no. So we have devised an ingenious yet decidedly unglamorous system, where you will pee (or the other) into a container, seal it, stow it in your day pack and hand it in at the end of the stage. Simples.

Is it really 100 miles? The lake looks a bit shorter than that?

Yes but no but maybe. As the crow flies, the distance of the lake is nearer 85 miles. But the route that will be taken is not straight line, as that route wiggles to avoid seams, rough patches of ice and other hazards. Of course, we will also divert into shore 3 times to camp for the night, adding a bit more distance to the ‘as the crow flies’ number. Whilst the general route is marked in advance and is sanctioned for ice thickness by the Authorities, the exact nuances of the route we take will also not be decided until, in some cases, the day of the event. This is because the ice is always on the move and seams may open up that we then need to avoid. So we cannot give an exact distance. When we completed the recce trip over 3 days in Jan 2018, we covered 93 miles. If you are coming here to ‘bag the 100’ you’ve got the wrong event; the experience and the challenge of doing a full traverse of the whole lake is what you are buying into here (whatever distance that may be); not the absolute number 100. If we fall short and it’s 95 for example, we won’t be making up a 5 mile wiggle somewhere on the route. It’s too serious an undertaking for us to be getting into that sort of semantics.

 

  • Prices are per person

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    Register before 2nd Sept 2018

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    Register after 2nd Sept 2018

  • REGISTRATION FEE

    Initial payment

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $700

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    $2000

  • DEPOSIT

    Due within 60 days

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $1500

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    N/A

  • FINAL BALANCE

    Due by 1st Nov 2018

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $1950

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    $1950

  • TOTAL

    To be paid

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $3950

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    $3950

 

All prices are in US Dollars. An admin fee of 1.99% will be added to all payments. Your deposit is due 60 days after you pay your Registration Fee. If you register after the 2nd September 2018 your Registration Fee and Deposit is due in one payment.

All payments are non-refundable, if you wish to withdraw and lodge your request prior to 1st Nov you may transfer your registration fee to another Rat Race Bucket List event or exchange it for entry into a UK Rat Race Event of your choosing.

Entries are non transferable to another person. Once the 100 spaces are full we will operate a waiting list and we will work through it chronologically to offer any places that become available.

Please see here for full terms and conditions and our cancellation policy.

What’s Included

  • Fully supported including 4x4s, sweeper crews, professional medics, full race safety comms network, safety evacuation and event extraction system, professional campsite crews
  • Fully way-marked route, checked for ice depth and constantly monitored and patrolled by our experienced local guides
  • 3 Pit stops per day whilst on the route – featuring energy foods, hot and cold drinks
  • Catering provision including some breakfasts and overnight food provided, plus a wilderness camp reindeer feast (see the ‘FOOD‘ tab below to see what food is provided, when and where) plus hot water provision throughout
  • 7 nights accommodation: Permanent ger camp (4 nights), wilderness ger camp (3 nights) with mattresses, wood-fired heated gers and toilets (thunder boxes or long-drops)
  • All in-country air and road transfers from Ulaan Baatar International airport and back
  • High value finisher’s mementos including T-shirt, medal and other secret items
  • Satellite tracked for safety and supporter interaction (see info on electronics in the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab below, under Camplife, WiFi and electric/electronic devices) and provision of flares for emergency assistance.
  • Overnight bag transfers from camp to camp
  • After event party, slap-up feast, beers, vodka and access to the Khovsgol International Ice Festival

 

 

Ever fancied working on an event at the Ends of the Earth? We have limited spaces for Volunteers to come and experience these sensational Bucket List events from the coalface with our volunteer programme.

We have spaces for volunteering within our event team at these events. Tasks include assistance at our overnight camps, inside the race team and behind the scenes on logistics and customer services in-country at the events. For those intrepid enough to take up the challenge you will be rewarded with the same mementos as the participants, plus accommodation and food whilst on the trip. Just get yourself to and back from the specified international airport in the host country and we will look after you during the trip.

Please note: we have had a lot of interest for our Bucket List Series so are no longer taking applications for volunteers.

Let us know which of our Bucket List events you’re interested in.

 


 

Fancy helping us create the next generation of Bucket List challenges and go where no-one has gone before? We’ve been busy combing the planet for the next wave of seriously out-there Adventures and now we’re looking for a few hardy souls to come with us and be “test-pilots” on these amazing new trips.

 

You’ll need a sense of adventure (and a sense of humour!) and of course you’ll understand that these trips aren’t the “finished article” yet, so an open-minded trailblazing spirit will help too! We’ll publish a kit list and there will be a financial contribution; plus you’ll need the time off, of course. These trips will take between 7-14 days depending on where in the World we are headed. The outcome? Authentic World-first Adventures. With you as part of the crew.

Join us as test pilot and see “the other side…”

For a list of destinations and approximate dates please email events@ratrace.com for more details.

RAISE AT LEAST £5000 FOR CHILDREN WITH CANCER UK AND GET YOUR ENTRY FREE REFUNDED!

SUPPORT CHILDREN WITH CANCER UK: JOIN THE CHILDREN WITH CANCER UK TEAM AND HELP SAVE MORE YOUNG LIVES

By joining the 2019 Children with Cancer UK Rat Race Mongol 100 Team you will help the charity raise funds which will be invested into vital specialist research to improve survival rates in children and young people to create a world where no child dies of cancer.

Raise at least GBP£5,000 (excluding gift aid) for Children with Cancer UK by March 3rd 2019 and Rat Race will refund your total entry fee up to the value of GBP£2,500.

Please note; USD$500 of your Registration Fee paid to Rat Race is non-refundable. Your refund will be made in USD$, with the exchange rates dependent on the time of processing. Refunds will be made between 2 and 3 months after the event is completed.

Refunds are not mandatory; participants are welcome to opt-out of receiving their refund. Should participants opt-out, their refund will instead be used by Children with Cancer UK to help fund vital specialist research into childhood cancer.

TO CREATE YOUR VIRGIN MONEY GIVING PAGE AND START FUNDRAISING SIMPLY CREATE AN ACCOUNT HERE.

If you choose to support Children with Cancer UK and raise £5000, you will also receive;

  • A Children with Cancer UK fundraising and training pack
  • Regular Children with Cancer UK updates
  • A dedicated point of contact at the charity
  • A technical Children with Cancer UK t-shirt to wear with pride
  • Free Rat Race back pack (ideal for use on Bucket List events!)

If you go the extra-mile with your fundraising and help save the lives of every child with cancer you can be eligible for fundraising incentives set out below.

Rat Race events are perfect platforms for fundraising. A solid and tangible physical and mental objective for you, the participant. Plus a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the route; and perhaps raise some cash for a cause close to your heart.

There is no obligation to fund raise of course and people come from all walks of life and all over the World to take what they wish from these amazing experiences. If you do decide to raise cash, we welcome fundraising for any charity or non-profit.

If you are a UK resident, please read below for an exciting opportunity to raise money AND get your entry fee back, when you raise funds for Children with Cancer UK.

RAT RACE MONGOL 100 KIT PACKAGE

Raise at least GBP£2,500 (excluding gift aid) for Children with Cancer UK by February 3rd 2019 and Rat Race will send you a special 2019 Mongol 100 kit package.

For more information on Children with Cancer UK please visit www.childrenwithcancer.org.uk. Alternatively please contact the Sports Team on 020 7404 0808 or email sports@childrenwithcancer.org.uk to find out more about this route to taking part in a Rat Race Bucket List event. Children with Cancer UK is a registered national charity (no. 298405)

READ ABOUT OUR £1MILLION CHARITY GOAL HERE

OPTION 1. Three nights in the Platinum Hotel (4 days, 3 nights)
$850pp, based on minimum 2 sharing, centrally located close to the main square in UB

Day 1 – Arrival from Khuvsgul and transfer to Hotel.  Sauna, massage and theatre visit to see Mongolian performers.
Day 2 – A trip to the Genghis Khan large horse statue just outside UB.  Traditional horse meet and airag (fermented mare’s milk) lunch in a ger.  Return to UB.
Day 3 – A guided visit to Gandam Monastery, a cashmere factory and the black market.
Day 4 – transfer to airport and depart UB.

Includes all transport, a guide for all tours and breakfasts and lunches on all days

OPTION 2. Gobi Desert extension (5 days, 4 nights)
$1400pp, based on a group size of 4 (trip runs with 4 people although you can book on as solos or pairs)

This trip starts with a 600km comfortable drive in land cruisers away from Khovsgol, arriving in the Gobi in daylight. It is an interesting way to see the Mongolian steppe turn into desert.  You pass a lot of Mongolian nomadic communities and stop en route for tea and snacks with them, whilst witnessing them milking animals, herding, making cheese etc.  They are always pleased to see us.

Day 1 – Arrive Dalandzadgad, uplift and transfer to ger camp within view of the Gurvan Saikhan (three sisters) mountain range.  Dinner included.
Day 2 – Visit the UNESCO World heritage site of Yolyn Am (Lammergeiers gorge).  A spectacular site in summer, and even more so in winter.  Home to the elusive snow leopard, with 400 counted within the mountain range.  Overnight in ger camp.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Day 3 – Visit the UNESCO World heritage site of Bayanzag (flaming cliffs).  This stunning area was made famous by the discovery of the first fossilized dinosaur eggs by explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (the inspiration for Indian Jones!).  Winter camel riding.  Overnight in ger camp.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Day 4 – Visit Molson Els sand dunes.  A chance to climb red sand dunes at -20C either on foot, or on camels.  Overnight in ger camp.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Day 5 – Return to UB in the Land Cruisers. Breakfast, Lunch.

OPTION 3. Altai First Ascent Expedition (8 days, 7 nights minimum)
(pricing TBC)

Talk about a double header! Traverse a frozen lake and then ascend some unclimbed peaks. This is a beyond-exciting opportunity to lay down some first ascents and literally go where no Man or Woman has gone before. The Altai mountains of the Mongolian/ Kazakh border area are a mecca for such ascents. We’re taking a small team, led by an expert mountain leader and local guides, to stretch the legs and hopefully attain some winter first ascents in this remote and breathtaking corner of the country.

Whilst not overtly technical objectives, the terrain, extreme cold and general mountain environment dictate that this trip will suit those with some mountain experience under their belt, from the Alps or Greater Ranges. Please contact us if you wish to know more and to check to see if you’re at the right level to be considered for this trip.

(Itinerary TBC)


Pre/post-event transfer and overnight accommodation package
$130pp

We have a transfer/hotel/transfer option for those who want to stay overnight in UB. This can be the night before or after the trip, to connect with flights the previous/following day: Includes transfer from airport, quality 3 star hotel and transfer back to airport.

Spectator Package: 3rd – 10th March 2019
$2000 per spectator

Includes:

  • 7 nights full board inc meals at a comfortable Ger camp on the shore of Lake Khovsgol.
  • Daily guided activities, including horse sledging on the ice, ice fishing, Mongolian cookery course, horse riding, plus attending the Ice Festival.
  • Watch the end of the race of course, as it will finish near to the Ger camp.
  • Internal flights on same aircraft as runners.

ITINERARY

KIT/EQUIPMENT

SKILL LEVEL

FOOD

ACCOMMODATION

TRANSPORT

FAQ

LOCATION

THE COURSE

THE CHALLENGE

ENTRY FEE

TESTIMONIALS

VOLUNTEER

RUN FOR CHARITY

BOLT ON OPTIONS

SPECTATOR PACKAGE

CONTACT US

 


ITINERARY

Sunday 3rd March

Arrive Ulaan Baatar International Airport. (Most international flights arrive early morning). Be met by our team and transfer to our internal flight to Murun (flight from UB airport to Murun will depart approx 1600 on 03/03/19 arriving Murun 1800 local time). There is the opportunity to leave non-essential kit (casual clothes etc) at the airport in secure storage. See more about mandatory event kit in the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab under ‘Mandatory Kit List..’. We then transfer to Murun by air (2 hrs) flying over hundreds of miles of mountain and forest wilderness. Upon arrival at Murun we will transfer by road to Khatgal, on the southern shore of Lake Khovsgol (1.5 hrs). Accommodation is in a permanent cosy ger camp at Khatgal (See the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab to read about what to expect in our camps). A slap-up meal and drinks are provided to welcome you to Mongolia after your long journey, plus some local entertainment.

Monday 4th March

Enjoy your stunning and surreal new surroundings and get used to life at between -20 and -40. See the ‘LOCATION‘ tab to learn more about the cold and the general environment. After a hearty breakfast we will complete kit checks today, plus provide safety briefings. For those biking and skating, you will be asked to complete a small proficiency test on the ice. There is also the opportunity to view the incredible sculptures of the local Ice Festival. You can also stretch those legs on the ice itself and ‘feel it for real.’ Accommodation will again be in our cosy permanent ger camp at Khatgal and we will again provide meals.

Tuesday 5th March

We will rise at first light and board our transports for the journey from Khatgal to Khank at the northern end of the lake. This journey is an adventure in its own right as we ride in convoy over the entire length of the frozen lake. Today will allow you to see the route itself and will give you immense confidence in what lies ahead. We will stop for lunch ‘al fresco’ on the ice and continue towards our toasty permanent ger camp at Khank, arriving in mid to late afternoon. A hearty dinner awaits, before you hunker down in preparation for what lies ahead.

Wednesday 6th March

The Mongol 100 begins! From the start line metres from your ger you will strike out south down the lake, heading for our first overnight camp on the eastern shore. Distances will always be approximate, due to the route taken to provide safe passage (see ‘THE COURSE‘ tab to find out more about the route and safety on the lake). 3 pit stops will be provided each day, at approximately 10km intervals and you will cover (approx.) 40km today to reach your first wilderness camp. You’ll also likely spend a good bit of time today ‘sorting’ your clothing in this first stage of the challenge and managing temperature – layering particularly. See the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tabs for more info on kit. Accommodation will be in gers in the first of 3 true wildnerness camps, with a log burning stove in each one and a roaring communal fire around which we will congregate in the evening to share tales from day 1. See the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab to find out more about camp life and facilities on this event.

Thursday 7th March

Day 2 sees us aim for the island in the middle of the lake and to our second wilderness camp. By now you may be getting used to your mode of travel and to the endless bangs, rumbles and crashes emanating from underneath your feet. Pinch yourself every now and then and remember where you are – running, riding or gliding across a frozen lake in Mongolia! Accommodation is again in one of our stunning wilderness camps, nestled on the edge of the island with views over the lake towards both shores.

Friday 8th March

Another long day on foot over (approx.) a marathon’s worth of icy terrain – by now the legs will definitely be feeling it but hopefully you’ll be in a good rhythm. The route will provide safe passage to our third and final wilderness camp on the shore of the lake, amidst the ancient boreal forest which envelops the whole World at this latitude. We will serve up an amazing feast of reindeer meat and livers around the huge open fire.

Saturday 9th March

The fourth and final stage brings you across another 30 – 40km stage and right back to where it all began at Khatgal, at the southern end of lake Khovsgol. The finish line will be established amongst the ice sculptures of the Ice Festival. You will feel astonished at your achievement as you sail through it, having completed quite probably the most unique, memorable and emotional event you’ve ever done.

Tonight is now all about the party. Those who know Rat Race will know this is as much a part of the event as the event itself. Enjoy a cracking local meal, event video highlights on the big screen, presentation of your finisher’s medals, special edition finisher’s T-shirts and other very secret and special mementos before partying the night away with local music, local food and perhaps the odd vodka and beer, all laid on by us in tribute to yourselves and your mighty achievement.

Sunday 10th March

After a morning sorting kit, viewing the ice sculptures once more and saying goodbye to our warm Mongolian hosts, we saddle up for the return trip to Murun by road, to connect with our internal flight back to UB (flight will depart Murun for UB approx 1200, arriving UB 1400 airport on 10/03/19). Upon arrival at UB, the event itinerary finishes but if you wish for onward transport into UB city to perhaps stay for a night or two, or to delve deeper into Mongolia for other adventures, speak to us and we can arrange extension itineraries. A popular option may be 2 nights in UB in a comfortable 5-star hotel with spa, guided tour of UB and a trip out to see the incredible statue of Genghis Khan atop a huge steel horse, some 1.5 hrs outside the city. Or choose to connect with the Trans-Siberian Express and enjoy the overnight trip from UB to Beijing; or ride it 4 days all the way back to Moscow and onwards to Europe!

*NOTE THAT TIMINGS AND ITINERARIES ARE APPROX AND OUTLINE AND MAY CHANGE


KIT/EQUIPMENT

This is a very unique event in a very cold environment. Whilst much of what you need is ‘standard’ cold-weather outdoor and athletic gear, there are some specialist items that you cannot do without and there are some ‘comfort’ items that we will insist you bring in order that you are protected from the extreme cold. We outline here what ‘the event’ provides and what you are expected to provide. Then below you will also see the mandatory kit list. This list will be made more detailed as we get nearer to the challenge but for now it gives you a very firm snapshot of what gear you will require for this challenge.

Rat Race will provide:

  • 4×4 Vehicle support throughout, including sweeper service, medical support and pit stop food and beverage provision. See Food/ Accommodation/ Transport page or more details on the pit stops and other trip catering provisions.
  • Satellite tracking and GPS routing device: Rat Race will provide ground-breaking satellite tracking, with units which allow us to see where you are at all times for your safety. It also allows your loved ones and supporters to keep track of your progress, should you wish to share. HOWEVER, please see the guidance on electronic equipment in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab, as the extreme cold does affect these devices as well as your own electrical equipment.
  • Flares for emergency use.
  • Bag transfer from camp to camp. You take a day pack and we carry the rest.
  • Special-edition Race Bib to go over all items of clothing (lightweight fabric)

The participant will provide:

Their own footwear, running gear, daypack, plus a larger hold-all sized bag for overnight gear (strict size and weight limit applies: 23kg maximum (same as most airline limits).

If you are skating, you will need detachable back-country skates, and skating or x-country skiing poles, plus a helmet. If cycling, you will need a fat bike with spiked tyres, plus appropriate clothing. For more guidance on the choice of run, skate or bike, see the section on this in the ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. For more info on specialist kit required for skating or biking, see kit list below.

For camp, you will bring your own sleeping bag and we insist that this is a good quality down 4- season bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 25C. This is a global 4 season bag (not a UK 4 season bag, for example). Cutting corners on this item is a mistake. Whilst the gers can get toasty, they can also be very cold when the fire goes out, so your sleeping bag needs to be first-rate. See more below on ‘items you cannot live without.’  A headtorch plus overnight essentials like toiletries, some loo roll and books/ entertainment devices will also help, although see the guidance on electronics and liquids, below! (Hint, they don’t work very well when it’s this cold). You will also need a roll-mat.

We will provide all other items of camp equipment, including the gers themselves and mattresses. (You will sleep on a mattress and use the roll-mat on top, to help with insulation from the ground, which makes the mattress cold). Please note that there will be no charging stations or power provision for devices at the wilderness camps so bring your electronics fully charged and expect for limited performance from some devices. There will be limited charging opportunities at the permanent ger camp on nights 1, 2 and 3 and in the permanent ger camp on the final night.

The other things you will need is a visa for Mongolia and some Evacuation Insurance, together with a decent travel insurance policy. More is explained on the visa process in the ‘FAQ‘ tab under ‘Do I need a Visa?’ and you can read about insurance requirements under ‘Do I need Insurance?’

Mandatory Kit List and advice/ guidance on kit for this event

Items that you cannot live without

These items are common to all participants and have been put in bold at the top of the list as without them, you will simply suffer in this environment. With them, you will be comfortable.

  • A 4 season down sleeping bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 25C
  • A foam roll mat will do but the much better choice is a therm-a-rest or other self inflating sleeping mat
  • Balaclava (and spare)
  • Spiked shoes or spiked/ studded attachments for shoes, like these
  • Heavy-duty down jacket
  • Good gloves of varying thicknesses

Mandatory kit for all participants

Clothing

  • Base layer(s)* Multiple base layers for top and bottoms, plus spares
  • Mid layer(s)* Multiple mid layers for top and bottoms, plus spares
  • Outer layer* Good insulating outer garments for top and bottoms. These do NOT need to be waterproof (in fact, it is better if they are not). Precipitation is negligible in this area, so insulation is king, not waterproofing. For moving on the ice, lightweight down and loft-style outer layers are best. Windstopper-style and soft-shell trousers and tights are recommended for bottoms
  • Socks* Minimum of one liner sock and a thicker sock. Plus spares.
  • Liner gloves – fingered**
  • Outer gloves – fingered**
  • Over mitten or down/ loft mitten**
  • Hat (plus spare)***
  • Balaclava (plus spare)***
  • Neck gaiter, Buff, Ratrag, snood or fleece tube (plus spare)***
  • Goggles****
  • Sunglasses****
  • Underwear: A good pair of wicking underpants or sports knickers/ bra. Plus at least one change of underwear
  • Footwear***** with spiked/ studs embedded in the soles OR a spiked/ studded attachment that can be fitted to the shoe or boot, like these.
  • Daypack: A small daypack (15 – 30l) to carry spare clothing, med kit and mandatory safety gear plus food/ drink. NB items like gels and energy bars are best kept in pockets close to your person, so they do not freeze. As is water.
  • Sleepwear kit: Base layer top and leggings, gloves, hat and socks. This should be kept just for sleeping ensuring you always have a comfortable, warm and dry layer.

Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

There are a number of factors that go into getting a good night’s warm sleep:

  • Make sure you are properly fed and watered after the days exercise. Your body will relax better if it is nourished.
  • Ensure you have dry clothes to wear, a soft beanie hat, gloves and warm socks are all required.
  • Some mild exercise before bedding down in order to raise the heart rate and boost circulation will really help. Star jumps, press up and sit ups are good examples.
  • Use a sleeping bag liner – silk is a good choice because it is small, light and extremely effective but a micro fleece liner is also good.
  • Insulate from the ground. Although we provide mattresses for comfort they’re not good at preventing cold transfer from the ground. This is why a therm a rest or similar sleeping mat is essential.
  • Insulate from draughts. The easy way to do this is to be in the middle of the tent and surrounded by people, but someone needs to be at the edge. A down jacket or your Mongolian deal do an excellent job too when layed over your sleeping bag.
  • Get right inside your bag and close the drawstrings above your head. If you get a draught use a jumper or other layer to block up the hole.
  • Don’t try to dry damp clothes in your bag. Hang them from the Ger roof and they’ll dry overnight.
  • Have a Pee bottle ready, leaving the Ger during the night is not pleasant. Just make sure you close it up properly to prevent any leaks!! If you do go outside, remember point 3 before getting back in your bag again.

* How many base layers, mid layer, outer layers or pairs of socks shall I wear? And what materials?
The answer to ‘how many’ is a very personal one. Some people run hotter than others and therefore how many garments you wear in which configuration is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer. What we will say is that you should plan to dress for your coldest-ever conditions but remember that you are exerting yourself. Which means that you need to wick sweat away from your skin and to the outer layer as efficiently as you can (otherwise it condenses between layers and snow forms inside your clothing). Our recommendation is a minimum of 2 base layers, 1 mid layer and 1 outer layer to be available to be worn at all times whilst out on the ice for your TOP. Plus MORE spare clothing (mid layers are advised) to be available to you in your day bag in case you need to add layers to this system.

For your legs, it’s more of the same in terms of choice, although runners may want to stick to tights as much as possible. That’s fine, although you will need multiple pairs and softshell/ windstopper outer garments (tights or pants) are advised. Our advice for all participants would be to start with a good next-to-skin leg baselayer tight and then layer with another tight OR looser fitting baselayer leg garment, then your outer leg cover. This may be a tight or a trouser BUT in all cases, you should have a spare outer layer leg garment in your day pack too. So that’s 2 baselayers and an outer, with the ability to stick another outer on, on the route, if required.

In terms of materials, this is also somewhat personal in nature, although there are some clear precedents in terms of performance. Synthetic fabrics are good for wicking; merino wool is also good for wicking and has very very good insulation properties, (and doesn’t smell) although some people find it a bit itchy for next-to-skin base-layers. Silk is also a good natural fibre for next-to-skin and is extremely comfortable, although requires more base-layers to be added above it as it is very thin. Our advice is to experiment and select the materials that work for you. There is no shortage of good base-layer technology on the market.

Socks kind of fall into the same camp as above. There are loads of different technologies and some people wear lots of pairs. Others don’t. Our advice would be a minimum of a wicking liner sock and then a good chunky woollen-based trekking sock (Merino wool, or Merino blended with other materials are great. Mongolian Yak wool socks are also fantastic and you can buy them locally at Khatgal). Your shoes or boots need to be loose enough to fit this sock combo, too. The tighter it is inside your shoes, the less the sock layers will trap the warm air between layers. Tight shoes = bad for insulation, therefore.

** Argh, the great glove debate
Somewhat like the base-layer and mid-layer choice, this is down to personal preference and how cold or hot you run when you are exerting yourself. Some people love a nice lofty down mitt to feel toasty and snug all day long. Of course, you lose dexterity. Some people like a thin merino or silk liner glove and then a fairly lightweight, windproof glove for ultimate dexterity with zips and kit. In all cases, layering is still the key here. Our advice is unequivocally to start with a very good ‘liner glove’ (a glove in its own right; not a built-in liner glove to a bigger glove, if that makes sense). Something like this Merino number works very well. (Link to icebreaker line glove). Then layer up with a ‘standard’ winter fingered glove: This can be a single or twin skin glove at whatever thickness suits you, although we’d advise having a ‘thin’ one and a ‘thick’ one ready so you can chop and change depending on comfort and conditions. Then over all of these, have a mitt ready to go that you can deploy over the top of everything if the wind-chill goes sky-high and/ or if the temperature plummets. It’s a lot of gloves, we know, but the ability to vary the system is key.

*** What sort of hat do I wear and what else do I put over my face?
Full face cover is a good idea. This means eyes, nose, ears, mouth, head and neck. You won’t always need that level of cover but you frequently will, especially if a little bit of wind comes our way. The tools for the job are listed in the mandatory kit list but by and large they are a hat, a balaclava and some sort of cloth or fleece tube that goes around your neck. All of these items come in different shapes and sizes. Choice is part of the solution but there are some good general rules here…

Balaclava and neck tube: These come with noses, without noses, breathable mouth holes, fully encased neoprene numbers, fleece-lined, windstopper materials, etc. You then augment the balaclava with a Buff or necktube that can be pulled up over your mouth and/ or nose for added protection. This combination is a very good one as it’s flexible and the neck tube can be lowered or raised accordingly. It is mandatory to have spares of both of these garments. This is because, due to breath and other perspiration in the facial area, over the course of a day these garments will totally freeze up. So you do need spares to change these out when they get too stiff and to allow the other pair to dry out overnight. Our clear advice would be to look for windstopper fabrics in at least one of your balaclavas, as this is very vey good at keeping wind-chill off the face and back of the head, plus ears.

Hats: The age-old saying is ‘if your feet are cold, put on a hat.’ The insulating properties of the hat are demonstrated in no greater way than in this environment. And it’s pretty much a key to instant warmth. There are lots of them. A good old-fashioned woolly hat is ideal and insulates well. As do shell-based mountaineering hats with fleecy linings. By far the warmest hat available to you however is a fox fur Mongolian hat. There is more info on local dress within the ‘LOCATION‘ tab but our clear advice would be to ‘wear the fox hat.’ We understand some folk will view that advice with some trepidation or distaste. But it is not a vanity thing or a fashion show out here; it is simply the finest insulating headpiece known to Man and the Mongolians worked that out 1000s of years ago. They are available readily in the area and cost around $35 for a very good one. We’d advise you to buy one locally and support local trade.

**** Eye protection
Another area where perspiration causes a bit of an issue is with goggles steaming up on the inside. Our clear advice is ONLY to bring very good goggles with you (which does unfortunately mean expensive), which have clear anti-fog coatings and technologies. They make a huge difference. Unlike when in a ski resort and whistling down a slope at speed may well clear a steamed-up goggle, here the steam instantly freezes and you cannot clear it.

Sunglasses area a good ‘second solution’ for if your goggles do steam up, although they do tend to steam up quickly themselves. They are however a bit easier to clear than a big set of goggles.

Simply put, wear goggles and if they steam up and you can’t clear them due to freezing-up steam, revert to sunnies.

***** Footwear
Clearly this is a very personal choice. You have some defined options however. If you are running, you will want something lightweight, with good grip, either with ice studs built into the sole (of which there is plenty of choice) OR that you can attach a detachable ice stud or spike device to. It is personal choice. If hiking only, a sturdier and warmer boot is advisable but again, it must be compatible with detachable ice studs. Most are.

Your choice as a skater is limited to those boots that you can fit a detachable skate to (more on this in the skating kit section, below) but you must also be able to fit detachable ice studs to the boot, for those sections where you cannot skate and must walk/ run instead.

For bikers, it’s up to you but again, the shoe must be capable of being able to travel over rough ground and be able to take the ice studs. More on this in the biking section, below.

Camplife

  • A 4 season down sleeping bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 25C
  • A foam roll mat will do but the much better choice is a therm-a-rest or other self inflating sleeping mat
  • Head-torch with spare batteries
  • Thick down jacket for use in camp (separate to outer layers used on the route)
  • 2 x Water bottles – preferably with insulation
  • Knife, fork, spoon set
  • Plastic plate and bowl
  • Expedition meals*
  • Personal toiletries and medications**
  • Antibacterial wet wipes (baby wipes are best)***
  • Roll of toilet paper***
  • Anti-bacterial handwash***
  • Suncream
  • Blister kit/ adhesive blister patches
  • Holdall (to put all of your spare kit and overnight kit that you won’t be carrying in your daypack

* See more about catering and what you need to bring/ what we provide in the ‘FOOD‘ tab.

** See guidance on liquids in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab.

*** See notes on personal hygiene in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab.

Other recommended personal items (not mandatory)

  • Pee bottle*
  • Books
  • Playing cards
  • Face, hose and hand moisturiser – very good for weathered skin from the cold
  • Lip balm – good for those cracked lips
  • If you can play, a mouth organ or Ukelele (!) may go down well around the fire!
  • Music devices**
  • Phone**
  • Camera**

*WHAT IS THIS?!
Once you have crawled out of your sleeping bag, pulled on your boots and some clothes and gone to the toilet in the middle of the night, you’ll know….! A pee bottle prevents you having to leave the comfort of your ger and is simply a bottle to pee in, at night. You then empty it in the morning down the toilet (If it’s not frozen!).

** See guidance on electrical and electronic equipment in the ‘Camplife’ section of the ‘ACCOMMODATION’ tab.

Safety and specialist ice equipment

  • Personal med kit. (Spec to follow but will include bandages, gauze, steri strips, antiseptic (spray or cream), plasters and rubber gloves)

Whilst on the ice

  • Whistle on lanyard around neck or attached to outer clothing
  • A flare will be provided to you by the event and must be carried at all times
  • A satellite tracker will be provided to you by the event and must be carried at all times, near to your person inside garments (so it does not shut down)

Mandatory kit list for cyclists

  • Fatbike with spiked tyres*
  • Flat pedals (no cleats whatsoever, as you may need to cover some ground on foot whilst on the route and we require you to have the ability to attach ice studs to regular boots or shoes)
  • Bike box for transport of bike to/ from event (NOT cardboard box or soft bag; it does need to be a proper hardshell bike box)**
  • Tools, spare inner tubes, pump
  • Helmet
  • Shoes***
  • Gloves/ overmitts****

* We recommend 45NRTH Dillinger tyres. They are expensive but by Jovy do they do the job. Read more on why a fatbike is required in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab (as opposed to a standard mountain bike).

** It is a fairly expensive business bringing a fatbike with ice tyres to Mongolia due to the size and shape of the box and the need for specialist ice tyres. Which shouldn’t put you off if you have the gear or if you want to obtain it. It is just something we want to flag up-front. Read about weighing up the choice to fatbike in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

*** You will need a system here that keeps your feet toasty while on the bike. Flat pedals means you can wear what you like, but note that keeping feet warm on the bike is a challenge given the extreme cold, so think carefully about shoes and about overshoes, gaiters and the like. We are not making anything mandatory here as it’s a personal choice. But you need to plan to keep those feet warm at all costs or it could end your event quickly

**** As above, hands on the bike will get cold quickly if you don’t have the right gear. The glove advice for all participants still applies for cyclists, but we are going one stage further and insisting on overmitts as mandatory, for obvious reasons.

Mandatory kit list for skaters

  • Detachable back-country skates*
  • Back-country x-country ski/ skate touring boot*
  • Poles (wither skating poles or x-country skiing poles). No basket is required
  • Helmet – rated for snowsports (multisport helmets are also fine)

*This is a very particular type of event for a skater. There is no real known comparison. The terrain varies from glistening smooth black ice that you will glide across serenely (sometimes!) to crust, snow-covered sections, seams and other different surfaces, that are impossible to skate. The ability therefore to detach skates and switch to standard boots with ice stud or spike attachment for traversing the ‘lumpy’ stuff on foot is key. The skates must therefore ONLY be detachable touring-style kit. No figure-skating gear or hockey boots please! The choice is narrow (which makes it easy to select kit!) but there are absolute clear contenders for the job. We recommend Lundhags T-skates with Rottefella binding which will be on sale at a competitive price nearer to the event date. These fits most x-country touring boots due to the Rottefella binding. Email us to find out more.

For boots, a x-country touring boot is what you need. The key is absolutely that it must have the Rottefeller binding if using it with our recommended skates. It’s a very straightforward and interchangeable system. It’s just that the kit is quite specialist so there is not much choice in the market. These boots are however widely available in Scandinavia (and of course online via various retailers) so we would suggest you identify some boots and then purchase the skates from ourselves when you are ready to do so.

Read more about the skating option vs running or biking in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. Anyone can skate – you don’t need to be a seasoned back-country pro. See ‘THE CHALLENGE tab for some advice on skill level and getting ‘skate-ready’ however.


SKILL LEVEL

We have rated this challenge as Technical rating 6/10 and Endurance rating 9/10.

What does this mean?

Technical rating 6/10
This is a committing proposition with a very good support system around you. It does not require super-human skills to access, however, it does require an immense amount of grit and a good commitment to kit selection and admin. All 3 modes of travel (foot, skate and bike) are open and accessible to anyone who has a decent level of fitness and who is up for a challenge.

Running/ trekking
You can walk or run the foot stages. They are long and arduous but are not massively technical, with the terrain being (give or take) dead flat. You will need ice studs or spikes of course, like these. See more about the run or walk options in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

Fat biking
Whilst you may not have experienced a fat bike previously, it is ‘just like riding a bike! The terrain is certainly very unusual but a fat bike with ice studs is absolutely the tool for the job. See more about biking in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

Skating
When was the last time you skated 150km + across an entirely frozen lake? See more about the skating choice in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. 

Endurance rating 9/10
Participants should expect a long outing here over 4 cold, long days. This is a mighty Challenge. As with all Rat Race events however, the concept is designed to be tough, but achievable. This is not a ‘sufferfest.’ More-so it is a stunning journey through a sensational and surreal landscape. The undertaking should not be under-estimated of course, particularly in respect of the cold and gear selection. A good dose of general fitness is required and will stand you in very good stead for completion of the job-in-hand.

 


FOOD

A word on Mongolian food can be found in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab under ‘Local Food’.

Provided within the trip costs are:

Meals at permanent ger camps

  • Including hot and cold options for breakfast, hot dinner and simple lunch. Hot drinks and water are also provided with all meals. Hot drinks are provided at breakfast also. Meat will feature heavily and we cannot commit to vegetarian, gluten free or vegan options. See below for advice for intolerances and dietary requirements.

Meals at wilderness camps

  • Hot water is provided at breakfast, pit stops and at dinner for the use by participants in the preparation of their own expedition foods (feeze-dried meals recommended). These meals will be carried in the participants’ overnight holdalls. Beverages to mix with hot water at camps (such as blueberry tea, sea buckthorn juice, English tea) will also be provided. The exception is at camp 3, where a reindeer meat feast will be laid on by the organisers.

There are no participant cooking facilities provided at the camps BUT there is hot water provided at all camps, allowing you to prepare your own freeze-dried and packet meals as you wish at all times.

See below for information on gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan provision plus other special dietary requirements.

Meal schedule

Sunday 3rd March
Service starts with hot dinner provided on arrival in Khovsgol.

Monday 4th March
Full catering service provided – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Tuesday 5th March
Full catering service provided – breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wednesday 6th March
Participant’s own expedition foods for all meals. Pit Stop service from organisers on route and hot water provided at breakfast and dinner for preparation of hot meals and drinks.

Thursday 7th March
Participant’s own expedition foods for all meals. Pit Stop service from organisers on route and hot water provided at breakfast and dinner for preparation of hot meals and drinks.

Friday 8th March
As above with the addition of a reindeer meat feast at the final overnight wilderness camps.

Saturday 9th March
Hot celebration dinner provided upon arrival back at Khatgal, including vodka and beer.

Sunday 10th March
Hot breakfast provided prior to departure from Khatgal. End of catering service.

Pit Stops

  • We will offer savoury and sweet snacks plus hot and cold water at the designated pit stops.
  • Please note that the provision whilst on the route does not consist of ‘full meals’ and will be more snack-based grab n’ go options, to reflect the journey being undertaken. You are welcome to use water at the pit stops for your own hot drink choices and we will also have hot drink choices available to mix. We would also advise that if you have sports nutrition products that you know work for you, please bring them with you.
  • See below for information on gluten-free and vegan provision.

Alcohol (!)

  • Complimentary alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink (vodka and 3 beers each) offered with our compliments at the finish celebration dinner; available for all participants to celebrate a job well done!
  • We will have beers available to purchase at all campsites, run on a credit system (pay at the end)

Participants will cover costs for:

  • All meals pre and post Challenge (outwith the times and dates stated above)
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks purchased in the permanent ger camps
  • Any other items purchased by participants at these camps (e.g. crafts, Yak socks, fur and woollen hats)
  • Alcoholic drinks on sale at the permanent and wilderness camps
  • Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks at the post-Challenge celebration dinner (except the ones outlined above from ourselves)

What will I be eating and drinking?

When we provide the catering, it will be hearty and ample. Example meal menus for permanent ger camps will be made available in advance, (although menus are always subject to change). For a bit more info on Mongolian cuisine in this area, please seethe ‘LOCATION‘ tab under ‘Local Food’.

Expedition meals

For the time ‘on the ice,’ the catering relies the most part on hot water provision from the event team to service participants’ own expedition meals. These are typically freeze-dried in foil bags and can be surprisingly tasty. There are various suppliers doing all manner of options for you to stock-up on in advance and/ or buy from our on-site store when you arrive in Khatgal. Don’t rely on this entirely however, as stock will be limited and we might not have your favourite dish!

Gluten-free, Vegan or other dietary requirements

If you have food intolerances or you have made food choices in respect of vegetarian or Vegan diets, the catering we provide in Mongolia will not necessarily be brilliant for you. We are being open and up front about this now. That does not mean you cannot come and that there won’t be anything to eat. There are veggies on offer, dishes are frequently accompanied by rice and soups are often made with a veggie base. The diet also features some delicious fish soup dishes too. Certainly for Vegetarians therefore, depending on how strict a code you enforce, there may be options to ‘mix and match’ a bit!

But the bottom line is this: If you have a dietary requirement, the baseline service from our catered ger camps is meat heavy. We will always have lashings of hot water available however, so the preparation of your own meals mixed with hot water; both inside the permanent ger camps  and (like everyone else will do) in the wilderness ger camps is absolutely fine.

So please do come, eat what you wish (and don’t what you don’t) and fill your belly with your own yummy things, mixed with hot water drawn fresh from the lake.

 


ACCOMMODATION

Permanent ger camps

Upon arrival at Khatgal at the southern end of the lake, you will spend 2 nights in a permanent ger camp facility, followed by a night in one at the othe end of the lake and then again in Khatgal at the end. More info on the style of camps and what to expect from camplife can be found under ‘Camplife’ below.

Wilderness Camps

This is the essence of the event experience and we will pride ourselves on the quality and ambience of these campsites, although these are undoubtedly very rustic. Ride, skate, hike or run into camp and enjoy a night under a star-filled sky, a roaring fire and plenty of tales of derring-do from the ice. We will provide gers, mattresses, toilets, and hot water service. There will also be beer available to buy. Absolutely no WiFi or phone reception however – but then that’s kind of nice, right? Medical facilities will also feature.

Camplife

What can I expect?

Quite simply, you can expect a campsite experience that will blow your mind. All of these sites are in stunning lakeside locations and you will sleep in traditional wood-fired heated Mongolian gers (you might know them as yurts) amongst ancient boreal forest, with the sounds of wolves howling in the trees. The sunsets and the sunrises are always spectacular, as the sky is always blue and the ice is always shimmering. There is no more authentically local experience than this.

Calling these campsite moments life-affirming or life-changing experiences, alongside the clear epic nature of the challenge itself, is no cliché.

These are not however fully serviced European camp sites with WiFi (Although some do have it!), on-site shops, hook-ups for camper vans and the like. The toilets are long-drops or ‘thunder boxes’ and in all cases, it is very much what you would class as ‘rustic.’ Our permanent ger camps have more facilities than the wilderness camps (such as a communal warm lodge for dining, power sockets and (slow) WiFi) and our wilderness camps are, well, as the name would imply! More on the two types of camps below.

Campsite layout and facilities

There are 2 types of camp we will use, which have many similarities (you will sleep in gers at all times) but have some varying characteristics. At the start and end of the route at Khatgal and Khank, the permanent ger camps will serve up hot food, have cold beer available to buy (no need to chill it as you just walk outside and it’s ice-cold), vodka, local crafts for sale (and fur hats), some power outlets, 3G phone signal and some internet provision. There are no showers at any of the camps and you will find that, owing to the nature of the trip and the cold, you’ll not really miss a shower too much (and you will probably wear the same clothes for 4 days, too).

During the event itself, our wilderness camps have zero phone signal, zero WiFi and zero power. That’s more like it, eh! The surrounding woods are teeming with wildlife (including wolves) and the sound of the wood-burners burning through the night and the crackle of the huge campsite communal fires will bring you right back to one with the nature all around you. This is Nomadic existence as it has been practised in Mongolia since the times of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire thousands of years before.

At the permanent gers, you will sleep between 4 and 8 to a ger and the gers will be allocated to you. At the wilderness camps you will sleep 8 to a ger. You’ll get used to this quickly as the more folk to a ger, the warmer it is. Result!

It can be cramped, but there is space in the ger roof to hang kit to dry and the camaraderie of this environment will form quickly. You’ll love it.

What’s it like at minus 40?

It’s cold – make no mistake. Pretty much the only thing not frozen at this temperature is the vodka. If you put anything in contact with the ground, it will freeze (inside and outside the ger). If you walk outside the ger, frost will start forming on your eyelashes immediately. But hey, that’s why you’re here, to experience such extremes. With good personal admin, good layering and simple steps to keep ‘one step ahead’ you will cope fine, just as the local folk who experience these temperatures every year are fine.

Is the ger warm?

Yes and no but mostly yes. They can get too warm believe it or not. The general cycle is for your wood-burning stove, located in the centre of the ger, to be stocked every 3 hours or so by our ‘fire fairies.’ You do not need to touch, light or stock the fire. Which means it gets very hot. You may be taking off clothes and coming out of your sleeping bag. But as the fire cools over this period, the interior of the ger cools too, of course. At the end of the cycle it can get cool (although never ever as cold as outside) so that 4 season sleeping bag is 100% required.

Will I just get too cold and never warm up?

No. if you get cold while out on the route, quick action to ‘layer-up’ will prevent this going any further. If you do get too cold out there, we will intervene with re-warming in vehicles and the application of more layers, with Deels and other Mongolian layers such as furs. We need you to manage yourself as much as possible of course in order to prevent you getting too cold. In all cases, it is a case of layering up before it becomes a problem. If you feel yourself getting cold, put on more clothes.

In camp it is similar, although we have immediate respite with a big communal fire, which gets incredibly hot and which is lovely to sit up against, warming hands, feet and all other apendages. And of course you will have your gers, with a roaring wood-burning stove and the body-heat of 7 others, plus a 4 season sleeping bag to crawl into. Remove all wet clothes and change with dry ones and big thick layers (like your down jacket and Deel) and you will be toasty in no time.

WiFi and electric/ electronic devices

When it gets really cold, things stop working. Batteries discharge and gizmos simply give up. They do come back to life when exposed to higher temperatures however (and if they have battery charge remaining). What this means is that your phone will almost certainly stop working at some point. But you can minimise the effects, by keeping electronic devices as close to your body as possible and by then sticking them down your sleeping bag at night.

Liquids

The same is true of liquids. Water, toothpaste, creams, gels. They all freeze. Keep things close to your person before you need to use it and the chances are it will thaw out enough for you to use it. On the route, we will provide water (cold and hot) from our pit stops, preventing you having to carry too much in frozen bottles, although we always require you to have some on board, when you leave a pit stop. It is easy to stop drinking and get dehydrated due to the perpetual freezing of water, so you do need to keep on top of this and when presented to you, always take a sip!

Going to the toilet

For info on what to expect, see ‘Going to the toilet on the route’ in the ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. For camp, it’s a little more straightforward (although no less cold!). At all camps we will have ‘long drop’ toilet cubicles or ‘thunder boxes’ that you sit on. It’s a cold few minutes wrestling with layers of clothes and kit to ‘do the deed’ and there is definitely no dwelling with the Sunday papers involved. Take your own toilet roll, get in and out quickly and return to the warmth of the ger as soon as you can. At night, the services of a pee bottle can do wonders for morale. Click here to find out what the hell that’s all about/a>.

Personal Administration and Organisation of kit

With so many jackets, socks, gloves, baselayers and other guff enveloping you; and the constant on/ off of gear into and out of the gers with extremes of hot and cold, you could be forgiven for losing a mitten in the melee. The target is not to however, for as soon as you lose something, finding it can be a real challenge with everyone’s gear spread across the place too. You need to practise keeping on top of this stuff; organise stuff into different bags (compression sacks are great) or compartments on your bag and if stuff gets damps through sweating on the route, hang it out and dry it out so it doesn’t become a problem for the morning. Just keep an eye on your stuff and don’t let the admin-monster swallow you whole!

Personal Hygiene

This one’s important, too. Which is why we insist on mandatory anti-bac wipes and anti-bac handwash. Bugs spread around people living in close quarters fast; and whilst our environment is relatively sterile on germs and nasties given the temperature, going to the loo and not washing hands and handling food with dirty hands are the dangers. Keep washing those hands and you’ll not go far wrong. Any cuts and scratches should be attended to with antiseptic early too, to prevent infection taking hold in this remote environment.


TRANSPORT

Provided within the trip costs are:

  • Transfer from UB International Airport to Murun by internal flight (and return)*
  • Road transfer from Murun to the lake at Khatgal (and back again)
  • Transfer from Khatgal in event convoy over the ice to the start area at Khank
  • During the event all of your overnight belongings will be transported and sweeper vehicles will transport YOU to the next camp if you require withdrawal from the event
  • A sweeper service will be able to extract you from the event entirely if you wish (and take you back to basecamp at Khatgal)

*Outbound flight from UB airport to Murun will depart approx 1600 on 03/03/19 arriving Murun 1800 local time
Inbound flight will depart Murun for UB approx 1200, arriving UB 1400 airport on 10/03/19

Participants will cover costs for:

  • Travel to and from Mongolia
  • Any onward travel after arriving back at UB International Airport at the end of the itinerary on Saturday 10th March 2019.

Getting to Mongolia

The event takes place in a remote corner of North Western Mongolia. However, getting there is actually quite straightforward. (And as you will find, the latter parts of the journey are quite an adventure in their own right).

You need to get yourself to Ulaan Baatar International Airport, the capital of Mongolia. Our itinerary starts there and ends back there 8 days later.

Getting to Ulaan Baatar (or ‘UB’ as it is known locally) is easy. There are services via Moscow on Aeroflot, MIAT Mongolian Airlines and other routes that connect on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul, plus services from China and the Far East. Flight time from Europe going via Moscow is approximately 4 hrs to Moscow and then 6 hrs onwards to UB.

You get yourself to the airport and we then meet you and your gear there. We take over from there and provide an internal aircraft transfer to the regional town of Murun, some 1.5 hrs drive from our base at the bottom of Lake Khovsgol.

Onward tour options after the finish of the Event

If you want to stay on for a bit in UB or to discover more of Mongolia, we can help. Talk to us about our 2 days UB extension itinerary, or about other local options, with which our knowledgeable local travel team can help. For those who want to see the other end of the spectrum terrain-wise, we have a gem of a Gobi Desert trip planned for departure immediately afterwards, from Khatgal and headed up by our expert local guides.

Perhaps you want to travel back on the Trans-Siberian or take onward train travel on the overnight train to Beijing? OR just us for an incredible and audacious assault on previously unclimbed peaks in the Mongolian Altai Mountains.

Email us here and give us an idea of what you are looking for or for more info on any of the above extensions.

 


FAQ

What is format of the event?

The Mongol 100 is a fully-supported 8 day adventure event. 4 days are spent on the adventure itself, (on the ice) with 2 logistic days (getting there and back from Ulaan Baatar on an internal flight, provided in the trip cost), 1 prep and briefing day and 1 transit day ‘on the ice’ driving the route in reverse in convoy, to get to the start-line of the adventure at the northern end of the lake. Fully supported means we provide the lot – accommodation, event support functions whilst you are on the route, all transfers and travel ex-UB airport, the lot. We also provide catering, although owing to the expedition nature of the event, some expedition meals are required to be provided by the participant, which is explained in depth within the ‘FOOD‘ tab. For more on what is included, click the ‘Inclusions’ section above.

What’s so special about it?

Everything. Read more about the Challenge itself in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab. Read more about the Environment in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab. This is a real adventure in a far-flung corner of the Globe, delivered with Rat Race flare and commitment to safety. It is truly one-of-a-kind. When was the last time you saw an adventure challenge from top to bottom of a frozen lake, by foot, bike or skates…!?

How far is the route?

The route is up to 100 miles. The exact final route distance is subject to change owing to the safety management we employ in defining the route on the ice. For more on that, see ‘THE COURSE‘ tab. For an overview map of the route with stages, see ‘THE COURSE‘ tab.

Is this a multi-day event?

Yes. 4 days. 1 stage per day.

How far is each stage?

Each stage is approximately 40km each, although the exact route is subject to change. It is also likely that the final stage will be less, probably nearer to 30km, although some stages may be longer. A route map can be viewed in ‘THE COURSE‘ tab.

I note you mention run, walk, skate or bike. Is it single discipline or multi-discipline?

It is single discipline. You select your weapon and off you go. See ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab to read more about whether you should run, walk, skate or bike.

Are there cut-offs? How long do I have to complete each stage?

There are cut-offs, although this is basically the amount of daylight available each day. We want everyone to finish and the amount of time available is genuinely the amount of daylight available to complete the job, from the published start time until nightfall (the start time always being after first light). If you do end up lagging behind and you really cannot make it in time, we will pick you up in an event vehicle (or horse and sled) and transport you to the overnight camp. You can re-start the next day if you wish. There is none of this ‘if you miss a cut-off you’re out’ stuff on this event. See more about the Challenge itself in ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

Do I need to run if I choose to do it on foot?

No. There’s enough time available to walk it all, although you will need to sustain a decent average pace in order to get the job done. To read more about running, walking, skating or biking, see ‘THE CHALLENGE‘ tab.

How hard is it and how much training should I do?

It’s certainly a big outing. But it’s been designed for anyone – not just seasoned adventure athletes. That is the Rat Race way. We have provided some commentary on the nature of the challenge in the ‘SKILL LEVEL‘ tab and the ‘ratings’ we apply to it (Skill rating and Endurance rating) here. In terms of training, this is a personal thing, but a general training plan will be released shortly, which should act as an overall guide to help you prepare and get the most out of this epic adventure.

What type of terrain is it?

It is hard, smooth, thick ice. It is absolutely flat as a pancake. BUT the ice surface does change and it changes often. Big smooth black sections are interspersed with small snow-covered sections and large smashed-up slabs. Plus some really weird formations that look like ‘dinner plates’ or ‘jellyfish’ (depending on how you look at them!). Read more about the ice in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab.

Do I need to navigate my way along the route?

No. 100% no. Follow our marked route and where you interact with our team out there, simply go where they say.

What if I get lost?

See above. You won’t. You will all also have a satellite tracking device for us to see exactly where you are. We will also have a radio comms net in place for the event crew to talk to one another.

The visibility is so good and it’s so flat you will be able to see other participants (or our crew and vehicles) ahead and/ or behind you at all times.

You should not worry about getting lost. At all times our support team 4×4 vehicles will not be far away either. If you do step off course, we can see you (visually and on satellite) and we can come and get you.

What if I get hurt?

We have highly trained expedition doctors and paramedics on the event. So if you need assistance we will be there; similarly if you need or wish to withdraw from the route, we will extract you to the next camp; or if you want to retire entirely, we will transport you to the end of the route and you can wait in a nice toasty ger at our basecamp. You can either withdraw at a pit stop or you can flag down an event vehicle to boost you forward.

Where will we stay?

Quite simply, some outstanding places. To learn more about the accommodation we will offer at our permanent ger camps and our wilderness ger camps, see the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab.

What is included?

Check out the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab to see what we provide on kit/equipment. What is included as far as food/ accommodation/ transport is concerned in the adjacent tabs.

Is there any hazard from the wildlife on the route?

Not really. There are Bears in the local area but they are all asleep, hibernating. There are a lot of Wolves, but these are not a risk to a group of our size and our campsite staff will have rifles. Just don’t wander out of camp…!

Can I mix and match my disciplines and do a bit of running, biking and skating?

Well, if you are running and/ or walking, the chances are you will not have this option as you won’t have skates or a bike! But if you are skating, yes you can remove your skates and walk/ run as much as you want. Indeed you will need to at times as it will be impossible to cover the full distance on skates alone, due to ice surface suitability and debris. For the cyclists, in theory you can transit from bike to foot. If you do so, we will transport your bike to the end of the stage, so if you do decide to switch from bike to foot whilst on a stage, the bike will not be available for the rest of the day’s stage once you make that decision.

If I have skates or a bike, can I share these with my friends?

Yes, but in practice, this is only possible on consecutive days. So for example if you wish to ride the bike and swap it between a pair or group of you within a stage, this will be very difficult (as the bike will inevitably move a lot faster than the walkers or runners). If you wish for one person to complete a stage on the bike, then for another to do the next day’s stage and share it that way, that is absolutely fine. Do bear in mind however that whoever rides the bike will need a helmet and will need to satisfy us that they are competent.

The same goes for skates. If there are a group of you who wish to share skating equipment, you may do so in theory, but you will each need footwear with skate bindings. It is likely therefore that if you have footwear with the bindings, you will probably all have your own skates anyway.

How safe is the area and the country in general?

Very. This is a sparsely populated countryside area and the biggest hazard is slipping on the ice and hurting yourself. Mongolia is a very safe country in general.

What’s the weather like? It is really cold?

The simple answer is yes. It is not the absolute coldest time of year to visit though, so we may or may not get the fabled -40. But it is 100% definitely very very cold and dealing with those temperatures is a big part of dealing with this challenge. More info on the cold and the environment as a whole can be found in the ‘LOCATION‘ tab. Detail on the kit required to take on this behemoth can be found here.

What equipment do I need?

There is a list within the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab of what is provided for you by the event and what we require you to provide. We will be adding more detail to this as time goes on, to assist in your preparations for this very special and unique event.  

How much special gear do I need to buy for this event?

Not much but there are some items you cannot do without. These are listed within the ‘Mandatory Kit’ section of the ‘KIT/EQUIPMENT‘ tab. If you are skating or biking, you will of course need that gear, which is outlined below the Mandatory Kit section.

If I am biking, do I need my own bike?

Yes. We do not have any hire bikes available for this event.

Why fatbikes and not normal mountain bikes?

You need the traction, surface area contact and the studded ice tyres that only a fatbike (with studded ice tyres) can provide. Trust us, that’s just the way it is and a mountain bike would be foolhardy for sure.

Still with biking. Is riding a fat bike hard? Or different to a ‘normal’ bike?

It is exactly the same as riding any other bike. You peddle and it goes. It has gears and it has brakes. It looks just like a normal mountain bike except the tyres are, well, fatter. Absolutely nothing to fear.

Do I have to carry all of my kit with me?

No. This is a supported format, which means that we transport gear for you. You will need to carry a daypack, which will have food, water, emergency gear and spare clothing in it, so you will have to carry something. But not all of your kit. We will do the hard yards on your overnight supplies by carrying a bag for you from camp to camp, plus all of the camping gear. This is a large logistical operation and is part of the value offered in this very special trip.

What food will be available? Do I have to pay for food or is it included?

You will need to bring some of your own expedition freeze-dried meals but we also provide a good deal of food at various stages of the trip. There is lots of information on the food and beverage provision in the ‘FOOD‘ tab.

Can I bring supporters?

On the course itself, no. We have a convoy of 4x4s supporting this trip and there is no space to take passengers. We can however provide seats on the aircraft charter, extra beds at supporter rates in the ger camp in Khatgal (our basecamp at the beginning and end of the trip), together with catering so you can eat and stay together pre and post ice phase. For more information on this please email us as we can only offer this on a limited basis.

Can my supporters follow the action at home?

Absolutely. Our bespoke and unique satellite tracking system is on-part safety system and on-part giant online-viewing gallery. Your supporters can see you on the map at all times and follow your progress. HOWEVER, owing to the cold, some electronic devices do shut down. There is therefore a very big caveat on this point that not all satellite tracking may be active, all of the time.

What medical support is provided?

The best. Rat Race are renowned for their commitment to the very highest standards of safety management and medical cover. We will have multiple Event Doctors on the trip, plus paramedics and all of the gear and drugs required for such an undertaking in this environment.

How do I get to the start and away from the finish?

The itinerary is fully inclusive of travel from and back to Ulaan Baatar International Airport. For a full run-down on the itinerary, together with overview of these logistics, see the ‘ITINERARY‘ and ‘TRANSPORT‘ tabs.

What inoculations do I need?

Nothing fancy. The usual suite of ‘general’ injections is usual, such as typhus, tetanus, Hep-A and Hep-B. But nothing unusual or specific.

Can I run for a charity?

Of course. If you run for Children with Cancer and raise £5000 we will refund you your entry fee and throw in a free Rat Race backpack. How’s that for a deal! You are of course more than welcome to fundraise for any cause close to your heart, however. Find out more here.

Do I need a Visa?

Yes you do. Specially for this trip, we will issue Visas direct to you via the Scottish Honorary Mongolian Consul, which removes the need to adhere to the standard process, which involves an onerous trip in person to the Mongolian embassy in London, or your respective embassy in your home country. This is a special arrangement for this event and is open to all Nationalities, not just UK citizens. If in doubt on your national eligibility for a Mongolian Visa, please contact us and we can advise.

The standard ‘fast-track’ Mongolian Visa fee is still to be paid, as it would have been if attending the Embassy (£60 in the UK) plus a return special delivery postage fee of £6.70, if posting in the UK. The process is as follows (and does not need to be done until much nearer the time):

  • Pay us your Visa plus return postage fee (£60 + £6.70 = £66.70) by BACS or Paypal, or through the special link we will put on our website
  • Send us your passport via special or recorded delivery
  • Consul issues Visa sticker into your passport
  • We send it back to you via Special delivery
  • For international passport holders, you have the option of going with this service (plus a modest extra charge for international tracked postage) OR you may acquire the relevant Mongolian Visa in your home country

Do I need insurance?

Yes. You need a decent travel policy covering you for general travel to Mongolia and which covers participation in outdoor sports. You will also need what is called an Evacuation Insurance Policy, which is for if we need to send you back to Ulaan Baatar for urgent medical attention via a helicopter or similar. These policies can be obtained for around £10/ day and are only required for the time you are on the trip. We would recommend Global SOS; you can obtain a quote and/ or purchase a policy here.

Can I volunteer?

Yes you can. We welcome support from across the Globe and if you do decide you want to come and work with us on this very special event, we will make sure we look after you. Plus you will be rewarded with an unbelievable experience in a phenomenal part of the World, of course. Click here to see the lowdown volunteering on Rat Race Bucket List events across the World.


LOCATION

About the area

Lake Khovsgol was formed over 2 million years ago and is one of 17 ancient primeval lakes on Earth. It is a true wilderness area bounded by ancient boreal forest. The lake itself contains 70% of the fresh water of Mongolia and 1% of the entire global supply of fresh water; owing to its geography it also boasts the purest fresh water on Earth. This truly is a journey into Frontier-country, where the Mongolian way of life has remained largely unchanged for 1000s of years and where Shamans, reindeer herders and Nomadic hunters ply their trade. At either end of the lake lies a village; each one is popular in summer with fishermen and other tourists. They are small places with a few shops, a smattering of permanent ger camps and bags of warmth and character.

Other highlights en route

The ice itself is the real star of the show, shimmering, gleaming and providing endless different reflections of the blue sky above. Wildlife is out there, although the still of the forest may be more captivating than the sight of a Wolf on the prowl…this is a truly mesmerizing landscape with bold sunrises, sunsets and a cacophony of winter colours during the day. Above all, there is a lot of ice.

The Environment

It’s quite simply like nothing you will have experienced, unless you have been here before. Mongolia has more guaranteed sunshine days than anywhere else (300/ annum) so even in winter, there is rarely not a blue sky day and it also rarely snows. But it’s intensely cold. Which means the ice is black, smooth and thick. The ground is frozen hard but not covered in snow. Ideal for our event. The forested hills team with winter wildlife like Wolves, boar and reindeer. The local folk are involved in subsistence farming, reindeer herding and tourism. The lifestyle is hard yet the places we go are welcoming and people are kind. Alcohol (vodka) and hot drinks feature heavily due to the cold, as does a lot of meat. Living in gers is common-place and that traditional dress that you’ll have seen in pictures of Mongolia is traditional; but it is also practical. Which means it is worn widely. It’s not worn for the tourists. It is worn out of necessity to the elements. There’s not much like this place – it is harsh, welcoming, unique and inspiring in equal measure. It also has a decidedly ‘frontier’ feel. You’ll love it.

The Cold

The cold in Mongolia really does stick to the back of your throat. Prizing open the doors from the inside of a building or ger can sometimes be enough to send shivers shooting up your fingers when you touch it and often, those doors resemble the inside of a fridge with the frost threatening access at the edges. The cold permeates anything that is not warmed by a constant heat source, such as the log fires and wood-burning stoves that are the heroes of the hour in these parts. The good news is that there is lot of wood to burn with the thick forests that envelope the landscape. There is plenty to be said about the cold and it is touched on heavily in the kit list sections (advice on layering) and in the section on camplife. But simply put, don’t believe those who tell you ‘there’s cold and there’s cold.’ This is cold. Folk who have been to Antarctica will tell you that this place is colder. It requires a solid approach to clothing, good personal admin on gloves and face cover and a hearty appetite!

One other thing to note: Whilst there is very little precipitation in Mongolia, therefore little snow (indeed it benefits from 300 days of sunshine) it does experience stiff cold winds rolling in from the Siberian anticyclone in winter months. These are fiercely cold. It can be very very calm or it can be consistently windy, especially across the lake. In such conditions, the wind-chill is an extra level of cold to contend with. Sorry!

The Ice

The thing on most people’s minds when they stand on the ice of Khovsgol for the first time is naturally ‘will it break.’ The answer is no. It’s about 1 metre thick and can take the weight of a massive truck. And of course when you drive onto it in a car, the obvious observation should be that if the car doesn’t go in, you won’t go in either. Still, it is unnerving. Especially when the sun comes up and the (relative) heat of the day starts to warm the ice, causing it to twist, turn, crack and groan. These noises sometimes rumble innocuously and sometimes they bang sharply and resemble thunder; or gunfire. It takes some getting used to. But rest assured, our route is carefully planned. The ice is used for vehicular transport at this time of year – indeed the lake takes over as the ‘main road’ to the Russian border when it’s frozen and the Authorities take samples and measure its thickness, establishing a line of safe passage across the lake for cars (and Ratracers) alike. Our team then build on this to ensure that all of the constant movement is taken into account and where seams open up, we avoid those area.

Seams opening up? Seems dodgy. Not really. Here’s a quick bit of science/ geography/ glaciology/ call it what you will. When the ice forms, it forms in chunks – not one massive ice sheet that stretches the length of the lake. These sheets are massive and are very very thick, so they are not going to break. But they do rub up against one another. Which is where you get seams.

You get 2 types of seams: Sometimes the plates rub and push against each other and end up overlapping one another, a bit like the tectonic plates of the Earth’s crust. These form compression seams, which take the form of a load of smashed-up ice along its length. These seams aren’t too bad as basically there is nowhere for any water to go and the plates are pushing against one another. No gaps, basically. The other type of seam forms where the plates pull apart, exposing water – wet seams. The water re-freezes very quickly when exposed but if a wet seam exposes itself, for a while, it is, well, wet. It has water exposed and it should be avoided. You can step over narrow wet seams (or drive across them very very fast!). And even larger wet seams aren’t that wide at all. Anyway, that’s what our team are there to do – to ensure we avoid those seams. Also, things happen very slowly. It’s not like you will be standing there and all of a sudden a seam will open up and you will fall in. That just is not going to happen.

So anyway, for a while, you may be distracted by the bang, crash, wallop of the noises emanating from beneath your feet or you may simply be mesmerized by the unbelievable splendour of it all – the black ice particularly has a certain allure with its fissures, cracks and air bubbles trapped in it. It is beautiful for sure – particularly when you get near shore and you stare down and see the bottom of the lake beneath 10m of water, sandwiched beneath 1m of ice. And you’re standing on top of it. Simply unbelievable.

The other thing that is quite remarkable about this lake is the sheer variety of the ice and how it freezes. From the pearlescent black marbled wonder which is as smooth as a smartphone screen, to the ‘dinner plates ‘ that have frozen in situ like gigantic bubbles; to huge smashed up blocks and frozen waves near to shore. It makes for a continually-changing scene, keeping you on your toes for sure but mesmerised by such unique splendour.

Local customs and language

Mongolia has 2 main religions – many people ascribe to Buddhism but the ancient animist religions are also followed by many – notably shamanism. In this part of North-Western Mongolia, shamanism is a big deal.

If you’re lucky you may get to see a Shamanic ritual. It is disturbing and fascinating in equal measure.

Other than that, folk are folk. There are cell-phones, internet and the trappings of modern life interspersed with the constant reminders that you are in a very unique and different land.

Outside of the event team (and even inside our Mongolian team) not many Western languages are spoken. Mongolians have their own very unique language and Russian is also understood fairly widely.

Tipping is generally not required and haggling for products is generally not the norm either, outside of the black markets of the towns and cities.

Local dress

As stated above, the traditional Mongolian dress of a ‘Deel’ is worn extensively throughout the countryside. It’s a thick heavy outer garment ‘robe,’ tied at the waist with a cloth belt. Most winter Deels are Yak-wool lined and are extremely warm. You will get the opportunity to purchase one and it is great to just stick it on over your clothes and wear it as a ‘dressing gown!’ The other things worn a lot are furs and pelts.

Don’t be surprised to see many of the crew wrapped in full fox, beaver, racoon and wolf fur, draped in full animal pelts and wearing huge fox-fur hats. As you will see on our mandatory kit list, the fox fur hat is considered something of a kit hero for this event. This clothing is extremely practical for these conditions, so please remember that if you do have moral issues with the fur trade back home, (where of course it’s largely fashion and not function), out here, the fur is there for a reason.

Local food

It has to be said now that Mongolians are big on meat and not so big on veggies and fruit. Vegan is possibly not a word they have a translation for. That said, the food is tasty and plentiful. Soups with cabbage, other veggies, mushrooms and meat dumplings are delicious and the quality of freshly shot boar and reindeer from the woods is simply out of this world. As you would expect of the cold winter environs, the food is fairly heavy, although staples like rice and milk and cheese-based products constantly lighten it up. The hot drinks are also delightful: Honey tea, blueberry tea and the uber-nutrient-rich sea buckthorn juice are all cracking beverages. In short, it’s a surprising cuisine with loads of new things to discover. It is not just ‘meat and potatoes’ as it can be in some cold climes. One other word of advice: Embrace the meat on your plate – it may not be beef. They serve and eat a lot of goat in Mongolia. Horse and camel are also to be found on the menu although the chances are that meatball you’re eyeing up is probably goat, boar or beef.

Key Facts

Approximately 30% of the population is normadic or semi-nomadic.

The main religion of Mongolia is Lamaism, or the Yellow sect of Tibetan Buddhism. 53% of the population is Buddhist with most of the remaining population categorised as non-religious. Animist religion (Shamanism) is also practised widely in some parts of the country and in the Khovsgol region specifically.

Mongolia is the world’s second-largest land-locked country, after Kazakhstan.

Mongolia’s capital is “Ulaanbaatar”, or “Ulan Bator”, which comes from the Mongolian word “Ulayanbayatur”, meaning “Red Hero.” 

According to shamanic tradition, a person’s soul is called a “Wind Horse” (хийморь, Khiimori). The “Wind Horse” is depicted on the official Emblem of Mongolia.

Mongolia is the most sparsely populated nation in the world, with around 4.3 people per square mile.

In Mongolia, there are 13 times more horses than humans, and sheep outnumber humans 35 to 1.

Snow Leopards are native to Mongolia, and one-third of the world’s population lives there. A Snow Leopard cannot roar or purr. The two-humped Bactrian Camel is also native to Mongolia.

Mongolia is said to be derived from the word “Mongol”, which is said to be from the word “mong”, meaning “brave.”

Due to its high elevation, high latitude, landlocked location, and the effects of the Siberian anticyclone, Ulaanbaatar is the coldest national capital in the world, where the average annual temperature is -1 degree celsius. In winter it can dip to – 40 degrees and below.

In 1962, William Coperthwaite introduced a modern version of the yurt to the United States, after reading an article in National Geographic magazine with pictures of Mongolian gers. A yurt as we know it is a ger and a ger is a yurt!

The Mongolian traditional costume is called the “Deel”, which is similar to a caftan or old European-style folded tunic. The winter versions are typically yak-wool lined and incredibly warm.

Popular sports include wrestling, horse racing and basketball. 

 


THE COURSE

 


THE CHALLENGE

 

What is the route?

It is a one-way solo crossing of Lake Khovsgol from north to south. Choose to do it on foot, by skate or by bike. The route is entirely on the ice of the lake. That ice surface varies in style and terrain, although of course it’s also entirely flat. Those running garmins and the like will see around 4m total height gain per day (mostly where you step over ice rubble patches!). The route is not an exact 100 miles, (it will probably be a little less) as it will ebb and flow with the safest established route passage across the ice, set by the Mongolian Authorities and our local team of guides.

Is it safe?

Yes. It is remote, there are Wolves and we are operating on a floating race surface of lake ice. It is also very, very cold. This is all true. But this event is well considered. We are not in the business of taking blind risks for our customers or our crew. People live by the lake and have done for centuries. We have recce’ed it, we have completed the challenge itself, we have studied the ice data and we have excellent local guides plus the support and assistance of the local ice inspection agency. There are risks, such as open seams between lake ice sheets, but these risks are managed to ensure people do not come face-to-face with these risks. See more about that in ‘The Ice’ section of the ‘LOCATION‘ tab. The wolves won’t attack us in camp as we are in large numbers (and don’t go on the ice) and our local guides have rifles too.

Will I fall through the ice?

It’s an obvious question but no, you won’t. The ice is between 60 and 120cm thick, which is more than enough to take the weight of large trucks (and does, as the lake is used as a road in winter). If our support vehicles aren’t going through it, nor are you! Elementary physics! There are some common-sense steps we will employ to prevent this risk however; which largely relates to seams, where the ice sheets pull apart sometimes. See the ‘LOCATION‘ tab for more information about the Environment, which has some more extensive information about the ice itself. Important to note that the Mongolian Authorities will have been out to mark a safe passage for vehicles (which we will largely follow) in advance of our event, so there is a lot of official science behind this process.

How hard is it?

Well, 100 miles over 4 days will never be a walk in the park, but add to that temperatures of up to minus 40 and a generally pretty hostile environment and this is a biggie. But we have designed it to be achievable. We don’t want you to fail. You need the right mind-set and for this one, you will need the right kit too. It is worth a shot; it has to be. When else do you get an opportunity like this.

Can I walk it?

Yes. In fact, even if you are a seasoned Ultra runner, you may be hard-pushed to run the whole thing due to the amount of clothing you’re wearing, ice conditions underfoot and generally the fatigue involved in operating in this environment. But we have designed it to be completed by a normal walker achieving an average pace of 2.5mph (including pit-stops).

How long have I got each day?

We have the hours of daylight. We won’t travel on the ice in darkness. We will start just after first light each morning and you have until 30 minutes before sundown. Which in general terms is around 10 hours per stage. Stage distances will vary (see below for why) but by and large, will be largely similar. If you do find yourself at the back and off the pace, we will scoop you up and shuttle you further up the field, although we will aim for this to be a last resort so you have your best shot at doing the whole thing by your own means of travel.

What if I get injured, or need to withdraw from a stage or from the whole thing?

Our medical team will be on hand to assist with injury and depending on the type and nature of the injury can treat or transfer you accordingly. If we need to get to you to urgent medical attention in a hospital, there is a hospital at Murun, 1.5 hrs by road from the bottom (finish) of the lake and approx. 7 hrs from the top (start) of the lake. We will be insisting that everyone has global evacuation insurance in place, in case we need to request a helicopter evacuation to larger medical facilities in UB. See here for what this is and what it covers.

If you need to withdraw from a stage, our vehicles will move you onwards to the camp for that night. if you wish and if you are up to it, you may re-start the following stage the next day.

If you need to withdraw from the event as a whole, we will have transport leaving at the end of each day’s stage for Khatgal (basecamp) at the foot of the lake and you will wait there until the event finishes. The staff in Khatgal may be able to assist in onward earlier connections back to UB but the fallback position is that you remain in warm ger accommodation at Khatgal at our basecamp and you travel back to UB with the rest of the event body, once the event has finished. For the days’ extra accommodation at Khatgal that you may require in this instance, a modest nightly fee will be levied, which will include board and lodging.

To run, to walk, to skate or to cycle?

Well, this is the essence of it. The Challenge is ‘By Any Means.’ This is the choice you will make and we welcome all 3 disciplines. You will note that we have not included ‘other’ means like skiing and kite-skiing (or kite-skating). You are welcome to ski, but there is normally hardly any snow and as such, the ice is hard, flat, smooth and terrible for x-country skiing on. Using kites could work, but you’d need to use them in conjunction with a buggy or skates. We are not geared up to accommodate the former and with the latter, frankly, we don’t fancy the risk profile, given the skating surface is not uniform throughout and a kite could take you into some decidedly un-skatable terrain too quickly for you to correct – risking falling injury. So the choice is: Foot, (run or walk, or a bit of both), skate or bike.

Running
It’s a very very unique running event: The thick end of 4 marathons back to back, over a running surface you have simply never experienced before. The ice does change consistency over the lake’s length but of course in general terms it is very flat. Head down, pace set, layers in place and keep plodding. You’ll notice the very hard nature of the smooth black ice sections; some hard tarmac road-running miles will help you prepare for this. But nothing really compares. It is very very hard underfoot. As you’d expect from solid sheet ice!

Walking
As above, but slower! Walking is clearly less high-impact than running and indeed most runners may well adopt a run-walk pace at some stage in proceedings, too. You may choose to or you may have to. But if you want to walk the whole thing you can. Trekking poles will help, as with all walking, alleviating the load from your feet somewhat. You need to maintain a decent pace (and as with all events, don’t dawdle at the pit-stops) but with some good mountain trekking and hillwalking fitness in the bag, you’ll be OK with the timelines we reckon.

Skating
What a treat. When was the last time you ice-skated 150km in a straight line? It is rarely ever (or ever, ever) done and frankly, the feeling of gliding over silky smooth black ice with the chink and crunch of the skates beneath your feet is just sublime. You will cover ground quickly on these smooth sections, but when you approach small snow-patches, seams or crust, you will grind to a halt on the skates. Time to detach skates and engage feet. It will be impossible to skate the entire length, but depending on conditions, you may skate ¾ +, which is a lot of skating in anyone’s book.

If you do decide to skate, you will need to satisfy us that you can in fact skate. Gaining the required level of skill is not outside anyone’s grasp however and some practice at a local ice rink will allow you to skate safely along this route. We will provide a link to our recommended skates, which you will be able to purchase from ourselves nearer the time.

The technique involved in this type of ‘back-country’ skating involves the skates themselves and skate or x-country ski poles. The action is very similar to that of x-country skiing ‘skating’ style and if you do x-country ski, you are well on your way to being comfortable on this set-up already. If you know your x-country/ Nordic skiing you will know what we mean by x-country ski ‘skating’ style. If not, go and have a look at youtube for x-country ski ‘skate’ style (or Nordic ski ‘skate’ style or Langlauf ‘skate’ style – it is all the same thing) and check out the skates themselves in action on the lake in our wee video here.

We will also ask you to wear a helmet, which is part of the mandatory kit list.

Biking
Well, a mountain bike, a road bike, a cyclocross bike or a folding Brompton this ain’t. ONLY a fatbike with ice-studded tyres will do the job. And this is the only bike we permit. We cannot hire you one so you must bring your own, in a hardshell bike box and with all your spares ready to go. It will need to have mechanical gears, mechanical brakes and no suspension as hydraulic oil will freeze and DI2 batteries will fail. If you have a mechanical en route, it’s up to you to fix it (although of course we will come ad get you if it goes totally pear-shaped and you can’t get going again on the bike). A bike is definitely fast across much of the surface, but there are some tricky bits involving crust, seams and smashed up chunks of ice. It can be easy going and it can be hard going. Especially on low-pressure fat tyres with studs. It’s not a-given that it’s the easiest way to travel therefore and the cold is fierce on your hands and feet when sitting atop your steed. It’s also not cheap. Most airlines will charge you £200 each way for the bike, the specialist studded tyres tend to be £200 each and if you don’t have a fatbike already, you’ll need one of those too. But what a way to do it – when was the last time you rode a bike across a frozen lake in Outer Mongolia??

If you do decide to bike, you will need to satisfy us that you can in fact control the bike in this terrain and that you have a grasp of the basic mechanics of your machine. It does not require any great skill but we do want to ensure you are familiar with the steed you are about to ride.

We will also ask you to wear a helmet, which is part of the mandatory kit list.

A note on skiing

Some of you may be wondering if you can ski. Well, x-country skiing gear could work on some sections of the lake, but very very small sections on it. The fact is that there simply is not a high level of snow cover. Which means by and large, the surfaces are very hard – sheer ice and crust. It is simply not worth it on x-country skis. Hence, whilst you could ski, you would not thank us for bringing all your gear over and then having to carry it over most of the lake. If you are a x-country skier, skates are the choice for you.

Pit Stops

These will be situated approximately every 10km along the route and will be operated out of mobile vehicles, with hot and cold drink provision, plus some energy foods. We will have medical staff on hand immediately beyond the pit stops also. Re-warming vehicles will be used as a last resort for those who simply cannot get warm off their own bat.

Will I get too cold and get hypothermic whilst on the course?

It’s possible but only if you don’t follow the guidance on clothing and if you are slow in taking action to resolve if you do end up getting too cold. The absolute key is to ensure you ‘keep on top of it’ and if you feel cold, layer up some more. We will have re-warming vehicles at the pit stops if you are in real trouble; and we also have lots of ‘local layers’ like deels and furs to keep the cold at bay and to get you back to warmth.  We will also have vehicles (and horses with sleds) bombing up and down the route and if you need extracting as you are too cold whilst on the move, extract you and re-warm you we shall. We have plenty in play therefore to assist. But the onus in the first instance is on you to manage your clothing. That’s the best way to prevent getting too cold.

Going to the toilet on the route

This is a bit of an unusual one unique to this event and place. The lake is sacred to local people and peeing on it (or the other) is a big big no-no. So we have devised an ingenious yet decidedly unglamorous system, where you will pee (or the other) into a container, seal it, stow it in your day pack and hand it in at the end of the stage. Simples.

Is it really 100 miles? The lake looks a bit shorter than that?

Yes but no but maybe. As the crow flies, the distance of the lake is nearer 85 miles. But the route that will be taken is not straight line, as that route wiggles to avoid seams, rough patches of ice and other hazards. Of course, we will also divert into shore 3 times to camp for the night, adding a bit more distance to the ‘as the crow flies’ number. Whilst the general route is marked in advance and is sanctioned for ice thickness by the Authorities, the exact nuances of the route we take will also not be decided until, in some cases, the day of the event. This is because the ice is always on the move and seams may open up that we then need to avoid. So we cannot give an exact distance. When we completed the recce trip over 3 days in Jan 2018, we covered 93 miles. If you are coming here to ‘bag the 100’ you’ve got the wrong event; the experience and the challenge of doing a full traverse of the whole lake is what you are buying into here (whatever distance that may be); not the absolute number 100. If we fall short and it’s 95 for example, we won’t be making up a 5 mile wiggle somewhere on the route. It’s too serious an undertaking for us to be getting into that sort of semantics.

 


  • Prices are per person

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    Register before 2nd Sept 2018

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    Register after 2nd Sept 2018

  • REGISTRATION FEE

    Initial payment

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $700

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    $2000

  • DEPOSIT

    Due within 60 days

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $1500

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    N/A

  • FINAL BALANCE

    Due by 1st Nov 2018

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $1950

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    $1950

  • TOTAL

    To be paid

  • Register before 2nd Sept 2018

    $3950

  • Register after 2nd Sept 2018

    $3950

 

All prices are in US Dollars. An admin fee of 1.99% will be added to all payments. Your deposit is due 60 days after you pay your Registration Fee. If you register after the 2nd September 2018 your Registration Fee and Deposit is due in one payment.

All payments are non refundable, if you wish to withdraw and lodge your request prior to 1st Nov you may transfer your registration fee to another Rat Race Bucket List event or exchange it for entry into a UK Rat Race Event of your choosing.

Entries are non transferable to another person. Once the 100 spaces are full we will operate a waiting list and we will work through it chronologically to offer any places that become available.

Please see here for full terms and conditions and our cancellation policy.

What’s Included

  • Fully supported including 4x4s, sweeper crews, professional medics, full race safety comms network, safety evacuation and event extraction system, professional campsite crews
  • Fully way-marked route, checked for ice depth and constantly monitored and patrolled by our experienced local guides
  • 3 Pit stops per day whilst on the route – featuring energy foods, hot and cold drinks
  • Catering provision including some breakfasts and overnight food provided, plus a wilderness camp reindeer feast (see the ‘FOOD‘ tab below to see what food is provided, when and where) plus hot water provision throughout
  • 7 nights accommodation: Permanent ger camp (4 nights), wilderness ger camp (3 nights) with mattresses, wood-fired heated gers and toilets (thunder boxes or long-drops)
  • All in-country air and road transfers from Ulaan Baatar International airport and back
  • High value finisher’s mementos including T-shirt, medal and other secret items
  • Use of a traditional Mongolian ‘Deel’ and warm fur hat for the duration of the challenge and opportunity to purchase these traditional items at the end of the trip
  • Satellite tracked for safety and supporter interaction (see info on electronics in the ‘ACCOMMODATION‘ tab below, under Camplife, WiFi and electric/electronic devices) and provision of flares for emergency assistance) Overnight bag transfers from camp to camp
  • After event party, slap-up feast, beers, vodka and access to the Khovsgol International Ice Festival

 


Ever fancied working on an event at the Ends of the Earth? We have limited spaces for Volunteers to come and experience these sensational Bucket List events from the coalface with our volunteer programme.

We have spaces for volunteering within our event team at these events. Tasks include assistance at our overnight camps, inside the race team and behind the scenes on logistics and customer services in-country at the events. For those intrepid enough to take up the challenge you will be rewarded with the same mementos as the participants, plus accommodation and food whilst on the trip. Just get yourself to and back from the specified international airport in the host country and we will look after you during the trip.

Please note: we have had a lot of interest for our Bucket List Series so are no longer taking applications for volunteers.

Let us know which of our Bucket List events you’re interested in.

 


 

Fancy helping us create the next generation of Bucket List challenges and go where no-one has gone before? We’ve been busy combing the planet for the next wave of seriously out-there Adventures and now we’re looking for a few hardy souls to come with us and be “test-pilots” on these amazing new trips.

You’ll need a sense of adventure (and a sense of humour!) and of course you’ll understand that these trips aren’t the “finished article” yet, so an open-minded trailblazing spirit will help too! We’ll publish a kit list and there will be a financial contribution; plus you’ll need the time off, of course. These trips will take between 7-14 days depending on where in the World we are headed. The outcome? Authentic World-first Adventures. With you as part of the crew.

Join us as test pilot and see “the other side…”

For a list of destinations and approximate dates please email events@ratrace.com for more details.

 


RAISE AT LEAST £5000 FOR CHILDREN WITH CANCER UK AND GET YOUR ENTRY FREE REFUNDED!

SUPPORT CHILDREN WITH CANCER UK: JOIN THE CHILDREN WITH CANCER UK TEAM AND HELP SAVE MORE YOUNG LIVES

By joining the 2019 Children with Cancer UK Rat Race Mongol 100 Team you will help the charity raise funds which will be invested into vital specialist research to improve survival rates in children and young people to create a world where no child dies of cancer.

Raise at least GBP£5,000 (excluding gift aid) for Children with Cancer UK by March 3rd 2019 and Rat Race will refund your total entry fee up to the value of GBP£2,500.

Please note; USD$500 of your Registration Fee paid to Rat Race is non-refundable. Your refund will be made in USD$, with the exchange rates dependent on the time of processing. Refunds will be made between 2 and 3 months after the event is completed.

Refunds are not mandatory; participants are welcome to opt-out of receiving their refund. Should participants opt-out, their refund will instead be used by Children with Cancer UK to help fund vital specialist research into childhood cancer.

TO CREATE YOUR VIRGIN MONEY GIVING PAGE AND START FUNDRAISING SIMPLY CREATE AN ACCOUNT HERE.

If you choose to support Children with Cancer UK and raise £5000, you will also receive;

  • A Children with Cancer UK fundraising and training pack
  • Regular Children with Cancer UK updates
  • A dedicated point of contact at the charity
  • A technical Children with Cancer UK t-shirt to wear with pride
  • Free Rat Race back pack (ideal for use on Bucket List events!)

If you go the extra-mile with your fundraising and help save the lives of every child with cancer you can be eligible for fundraising incentives set out below.

Rat Race events are perfect platforms for fundraising. A solid and tangible physical and mental objective for you, the participant. Plus a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the route; and perhaps raise some cash for a cause close to your heart.

There is no obligation to fund raise of course and people come from all walks of life and all over the World to take what they wish from these amazing experiences. If you do decide to raise cash, we welcome fundraising for any charity or non-profit.

If you are a UK resident, please read below for an exciting opportunity to raise money AND get your entry fee back, when you raise funds for Children with Cancer UK.

RAT RACE MONGOL 100 KIT PACKAGE

Raise at least GBP£2,500 (excluding gift aid) for Children with Cancer UK by February 3rd 2019 and Rat Race will send you a special 2019 Mongol 100 kit package.

For more information on Children with Cancer UK please visit www.childrenwithcancer.org.uk. Alternatively please contact the Sports Team on 020 7404 0808 or email sports@childrenwithcancer.org.uk to find out more about this route to taking part in a Rat Race Bucket List event. Children with Cancer UK is a registered national charity (no. 298405)

READ ABOUT OUR £1MILLION CHARITY GOAL HERE

BOLT ON OPTIONS

OPTION 1. Three nights in the Platinum Hotel (4 days, 3 nights)
$850pp, based on minimum 2 sharing, centrally located close to the main square in UB

Day 1 – Arrival from Khuvsgul and transfer to Hotel.  Sauna, massage and theatre visit to see Mongolian performers.
Day 2 – A trip to the Genghis Khan large horse statue just outside UB.  Traditional horse meet and airag (fermented mare’s milk) lunch in a ger.  Return to UB.
Day 3 – A guided visit to Gandam Monastery, a cashmere factory and the black market.
Day 4 – Transfer to airport and depart UB.

Includes all transport, a guide for all tours and breakfasts and lunches on all days

OPTION 2. Gobi Desert extension (5 days, 4 nights)
$1400pp, based on a group size of 4 (trip runs with 4 people although you can book on as solos or pairs)

This trip starts with a 600km comfortable drive in land cruisers away from Khovsgol, arriving in the Gobi in daylight. It is an interesting way to see the Mongolian steppe turn into desert.  You pass a lot of Mongolian nomadic communities and stop en route for tea and snacks with them, whilst witnessing them milking animals, herding, making cheese etc.  They are always pleased to see us.

Day 1 – Arrive Dalandzadgad, uplift and transfer to ger camp within view of the Gurvan Saikhan (three sisters) mountain range.  Dinner included.
Day 2 – Visit the UNESCO World heritage site of Yolyn Am (Lammergeiers gorge).  A spectacular site in summer, and even more so in winter.  Home to the elusive snow leopard, with 400 counted within the mountain range.  Overnight in ger camp.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Day 3 – Visit the UNESCO World heritage site of Bayanzag (flaming cliffs).  This stunning area was made famous by the discovery of the first fossilized dinosaur eggs by explorer Roy Chapman Andrews (the inspiration for Indian Jones!).  Winter camel riding.  Overnight in ger camp.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Day 4 – Visit Molson Els sand dunes.  A chance to climb red sand dunes at -20C either on foot, or on camels.  Overnight in ger camp.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner included.
Day 5 – Return to UB in the Land Cruisers. Breakfast, Lunch.

OPTION 3. Altai First Ascent Expedition (8 days, 7 nights minimum)
(pricing TBC)

Talk about a double header! Traverse a frozen lake and then ascend some unclimbed peaks. This is a beyond-exciting opportunity to lay down some first ascents and literally go where no Man or Woman has gone before. The Altai mountains of the Mongolian/ Kazakh border area are a mecca for such ascents. We’re taking a small team, led by an expert mountain leader and local guides, to stretch the legs and hopefully attain some winter first ascents in this remote and breathtaking corner of the country.

Whilst not overtly technical objectives, the terrain, extreme cold and general mountain environment dictate that this trip will suit those with some mountain experience under their belt, from the Alps or Greater Ranges. Please contact us if you wish to know more and to check to see if you’re at the right level to be considered for this trip.

(Itinerary TBC)

Pre/post-event transfer and overnight accommodation package
$130pp

We have a transfer/hotel/transfer option for those who want to stay overnight in UB. This can be the night before or after the trip, to connect with flights the previous/following day: Includes transfer from airport, quality 3 star hotel and transfer back to airport.

 


 

Spectator Package: 3rd – 10th March 2019
$2000 per spectator

Includes:

  • 7 nights full board inc meals at a comfortable Ger camp on the shore of Lake Khovsgol.
  • Daily guided activities, including horse sledging on the ice, ice fishing, Mongolian cookery course, horse riding, plus attending the Ice Festival.
  • Watch the end of the race of course, as it will finish near to the Ger camp.
  • Internal flights on same aircraft as runners.


Still got questions?

Feel free to get in touch and we will get back to you as soon as possible.