Some facts to help you decide your best strategy, day to day:
1. We do not maintain emergency response round the clock. Once all riders have checked in for the night (either at a horse station, or by sending an "I am OK" alert from their satellite tracker from their overnight location), the Ops Room team and the field crews sign off for the night, usually by 10.30pm, until 6am the following morning. This means that you are truly on your own at night, wherever you happen to be.
2. Soums (settlements) are a bad place to stop on your own, at night, with a horse. Your biggest asset becomes your biggest liability. If you are going to camp, be inconspicuous and stay out of the soums. Wild camping is a bigger survival challenge but a much smaller security risk. Be aware of this.
3. We do not 'vet' every family between the horse stations. The urtuu system is what we provide for your comfort, security and race planning. Many of the urtuu families will know who else is in their vicinity, and may have an idea of where would be a good place to aim for if you want to leave their station and ride on with no hope of reaching the next urtuu. If you plan to camp between stations, have a conversation with the urtuu family and the interpreter - get as much information as you can before you decide to ride off. If they don't think its a good idea, listen to them.
4. Not all of Mongolia will be a suitable camp ground. Just because it's within the rules does not mean it's a good idea. The geographical lie of the land will vary enormously from station to station; some legs may lend themselves easily to wild camping, and some will be very inhospitable. You'll be briefed on this at pre-race training by the course design team, but it's up to you to CHECK before you leave an urtuu whether there will be water, and any hospitality if you are seeking that, between yours and the next urtuu.
5. Where one or two female riders leave a horse station for their last ride of the day, the Ops Room team flag them automatically as a 'risk' category. If you have not checked in with an OK message by 2030 we will ASSUME that you require assistance and dispatch one of the field crews to check on you. As with anywhere else in the world, being a woman does put you at greater risk, so just make sure you're aware of this and take precautions.
6. There is a rule change for 2016: riders in the Adventure Division (see here for classification) will not be allowed to ride out of a horse station after 7pm. The front runners can still camp out, and this may well determine the end result of the Mongol Derby. We will allocate the additional resource to increase the oversight of these riders and horses, both from a fairness, and a security perspective. Since the race crew resources are finite, this means we cannot simultaneously provide the same oversight to the back markers. By the time the field splits into Race and Adventure Divisions there is usually 200kms between the leaders and back markers. Where our response time to an SOS becomes compromised we must take additional steps to lower the risk of an SOS in the first place. This is the rationale for the rule.
7. Not every horse will be suitable for camping out. We do not select the horses based on "tolerance for hobbles". Again, just because it it within the rules, do not assume that it is a good idea. Some of the horses on the Mongol Derby are worth a fortune, and the owners might be rightly sensitive about letting you take them and camp wild with them. He might get away, he might injure himself on the hobbles if he is not used to wearing them. Or he might be so used to hobbles that he can still hop away 5kms overnight, and leave you without a ride come sun-up. Again, do not assume that every horse has been briefed on the rules of the Derby - you really MUST take responsibility for every horse, every station, every leg, every decision, and this is a proactive exercise which will directly impact your safety and welfare throughout the Derby. Use your common sense and respect the herders and their horses!