This is the 7th Mongol Derby, featured in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest and toughest horse race. The 2015 race features 41 riders from 14 countries – including three Canadians – riding 1,000km across Mongolia on semi-wild horses.

It’s hard, it’s risky, people get injured. But people still come back for more.

The race has seen everyone from MP’s to stunt riders compete – so why do people enter?

Entries for 2015 include phrases such as:

“I want to ride across the fatherland of equine evolution.”

“I believe that The Mongol Derby is a positive event to join as it supports the Mongol horse culture and way of life.”

“I read that the 2014 winner almost pooped in her pants. If it is the price to pay for riding in the Mongol Derby I am in for it.”

As well as the usual smattering of equestrian professionals this year’s line-up features a diverse cocktail of the human race – from solicitors to firemen to nomads…

The 2015 riders are:

Australia (5 riders)
Jenna Carr, 23, Port Hedland, Australia
Food and beverage attendant in a hotel in Oz, riding to raise money for her friend needing expensive treatment for Bone Cancer – the Doing it Demi fund

Louise Crosbie, 27, Perth, Australia
Horses are her passion and life and has always wanted to travel to Mongolia to see where they originated

Cassie Ekert, 29, Bellevue, Australia
Sales Manager in the Pet/Produce/Agriculture Industry who says it “gives a perfect excuse for my crazy hair and lack of showering”

William Graham, 32, Withersfield, Australia
Grazier, raising money for Royal Flying Doctor Service

Sophie Watson, 25, Perth, Australia
Lives to travel and would “love to see Mongolia from the back of (multiple) horses (hopefully not from the ground looking up!?)”

Austria (1 rider)
Gerda Pohl, 46, Kathmandu, Nepal
Previously a GP in South Yorkshire, now living in Nepal, where she spends much more time walking than riding horses. Raising money for PHASE Worldwide, a charity she helped found, supporting health, education and livelihoods in remote rural Nepal

Belgium (1 rider)
Sophie Wilford, 32, (Paris, France)
Belgo-English vet working in Paris, one of the ‘Steppe sisters’ with Sian Dyson (UK), crew on the 2014 Mongol Derby and they will ride from start to finish as a team. Raising money for Agronomes et Vétérinaires Sans Frontières (AVSF)

Canada (3 riders)
Liz Brown, 33, Toronto, Canada
Travel Editor who disappointingly says her job involves too much cubicle dwelling and not so much adventuring. Bored of running marathons and been riding as long as she could walk. Follow her blog on Horse-Canada.com here.

Bruce Chernoff, 49, Calgary, Canada
Oil & gas engineer, Cattle rancher, team roper, bow hunter, “not focused on winning the race but, actually experiencing the people, places, physical, mental and emotional challenge of the journey”

Catriona Paterson, 37, London, Canada
Solicitor, competitor in Mongol Derby in 2013, unlucky not to finish so returning to set things right

France (2 riders)
Marguerite de Chaisemartin (French/German), 32, Neuilly sur Seine, France
Has had saddle sores, muscle sores, daylong sunstroke and been bucked off many times. Has eaten worms, grasshopper, French food and haggis. Recalls reading the 2014 winner almost “pooped in her pants” and “if it is the price to pay for riding in the Mongol Derby I am in for it”

Elise Poitrinal, 17, Paris, France
Student who wants to be a vet or doctor, raising money for an association called Entendre le monde which looks after deaf people in Cambodia

Ireland (1 rider)
Paddy Woods, 51, Julianstown, Ireland
Rode in the 2013 Mongol Derby making it to half way. Amateur jockey, loved Mongolia and returns to complete the task

Netherlands (1 rider)
Catherine Gudde, 47 Schipluiden, Netherlands
Freelance editor who says: “You have to hold your life upside down every once in a while to see what other great things are in there…For me this year the Derby fell out”

Norway (1 rider)
Cathrine Helene Fodstad, 40, Tynset, Hedmark, Norway
The first Norwegian participant in the Mongol Derby, farmer and supervisor for Young Entrepreneurs (UE Norway). Has managed a full time job, 25 horses, 120 winterfed sheep and 3 kids for a while so the Mongol Derby “will seem like the perfect holiday!” Raising money for SOS Children’s Villages Mongolia

New Zealand (5 riders)
Braden Cameron, 41, Porirua, NZ
Director, high profile endurance rider, rode for NZ at World Equestrian Games 2014

Maxim van Lierd, 24, New Plymouth, NZ/Belgian (dual nationality)
Rider in jumps racing stable whilst working on a masters’ thesis investigating the prevalence of angular limb deformities in New Zealand Thoroughbred foals. Hunter, hiker and camper

Amy Johnson, 28, Te Awamatu, NZ
Rural Manager who has ridden in the Calgary stampede, plays polocrosse and owns a mini farm. Raising money for Ronald McDonald House Charities NZ

Henrikus Swart, 25, Wellington, NZ
Stud Groom and endurance rider, grooms for Braden Cameron and the two are likely to ride as a team

Ben Wilks, 24, Thames, NZ
Field Technician, one of five boys. Raised on a dairy farm in Katikati and ridden all his life

South Africa (2 riders)
Byeronie Epstein, 22, SA
Eventer, show jumper, chemical engineer who says “the Mongol derby is a once in a lifetime chance for adventure, endurance, adrenalin, horse riding through surreal landscapes and pushing myself to my limit whilst on a horse”. Riding to raise money for Reach For a Dream Foundation

Simon Pearse, 54, Hillcrest, KZN, SA
CEO Marriott Asset Management, motorcycled across South America with the Dakar rally 2011, completed Mongol Derby 2012 and is returning to Mongolia to ride solo. Served as an infantry officer in the Namibia/Angolan bush war, professional lifeguard, cyclist, canoer. Wants to return to do the Mongol Derby “to have a solitary experience in that other-worldly place”. Raising money for Right To Sight

Spain (1 rider)
Silvano Guillamet, 44,
Music producer, plays polo, has been around the world in alternative adventure riding and no stranger to Mongolia having been on a 20 day riding trip with local eagle hunters living nomadically. To complete the Derby will be winning enough for Silvano

Sweden (6 riders)
Thomas Ellingsen, 38, Segersang, Sweden
Network Architect, motorsport and dirt bike lover, flyer, father of three and then sat on a horse in the spring of 2014 and got hooked! Mantras are “How hard can it be?” and “It will sort itself!” Raising money for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Florian Lackner, 39, Veterinarian, Landvetter, Sweden
Eminent equine vet , team vet to YR SJ/3DE in SWE

Patrick Norman, 46, Stockholm, Sweden
Runs family vegetable growing business, knows how to deliver a lamb, how to milk a cow, how to guide a dog sledge but also how to ride a horse, did military service as an anti sabotage soldier

Peder Mars-Hoijer, 49, Vaxjo, Sweden
Helps his wife prepare endurance horses for the Swedish national team, fearless rider, “hard as stone” and serious competitor for the Derby 2015

Petra Sundstrom, 34, Sverige, Sweden
Physician (GP) by day and by night and weekends tries to make the most of life by running, climbing, riding, kayaking, MTB and skiing. Rode across South America with her husband by horse, unsupported and taking three months

Andrea Westerdahl, 31, Stockholm, Sweden
Clinical Research Associate, by day she strives to bring new drugs to the market and in her spare time to inspire people they may not need drugs at all

UK (7 riders)
Catherine Coward, 42, Skipton, N Yorks
Personal Assistant. Loves travelling and was already planning to visit Mongolia in 2015 when she heard about the Derby and realised that was the only way to do it. Greatest sporting achievement so far is representing Bermuda at dinghy sailing in the Western Hemisphere Championships in Japan (despite not being Bermudian or a particularly good sailor!). Hopes the next one will be completing the Mongol Derby. Raising money for Royal British Legion & Bransby Home of Rest for Horses.

Patrick Sells, 32, (lives Waikato, NZ)
British Equine vet from North Wales based in NZ, Trustee and raising money for Kiwi Care Team, a NZ-based group of volunteer equine vets, farriers, dentists and trainers who are providing education and first aid to working animals in need around the world. Runner, climber and cider maker. Wants to “race across the fatherland of equine evolution” and “win the hardest race on Earth”

Alexander Dobres, 31, Bookham, Surrey
Why? “Because it’s tough. Because it will be hell. Because it’s there”

Sian Dyson, 33, Bristol, South Gloucs
Paramedic, one of the ‘Steppe sisters’ with Sophie Wilford (Belgium), crew on the 2014 Mongol Derby, last competition was a gymkhana as a child. Last year “I appear to have left a little chunk of my heart out on the Steppe & now it’s time to retrieve it…On horseback…” Raising money for Frenchay Afterburns Children’s Club (FAB)

Iain Hayter, 62, Lymington, UK
Unemployable, grew up on boats, survivor, likes maps, broke his neck riding and was told he should have died, wants to do the Derby “because it’s there”

Sarah Cooksey, 30, Lincoln, England
Worked in the horse world for a decade, but now promotes the virtues of the happy egg co. Ultimate equestrian goal is to ride a unicorn to the moon, but competing in the Mongol Derby is a close second

Daniel Reeds, 34, Lincoln, England
The fiancé, and inferior riding partner, of Sarah Cooksey. Striving to top his last adventure to climb a hidden mountain in the Venezuelan jungle, and hopes the Derby will do just that

USA (5 riders)
Jennifer Engisch, 35, (based in Switzerland)
Housewife, studied equine medicine at University, kite surfs for fun. 10 years of World level competitions with American Saddlebreds in saddleseat in USA including 8 World Champion titles

Uma Mencia, 25, Dubai / USA
Endurance Horse Rider, arts and languages student and Rustic Pathways Group Leader raised in Spain who was once severely attacked by an Ostrich while working on an art project on her own in the desert. Lives in Dubai and competes successfully in endurance races all over the world

Michelle Tanaka, 25, Arizona, USA
Nomad, globe trotter / aspiring dog walker, hit the road after graduating in 2012 and hasn’t yet stopped travelling to 34 countries and riding, trekking, bungee jumping and bathing elephants. Says “I’ll always love the road less travelled, and the Derby Unroute takes that further: the road few will ever have the privilege to experience.” Raising money for National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Brent Thomson, 62, Tiburon, USA
Everest climber, equestrian, traveller and ultra-runner who regularly competes in 50k trails. Although in her 60’s is in “awesome shape” and discomfort and blowtorched marmots are fine!

Kathryn Whitney, 25, SF, USA (from Baltimore)
Photo Editor and Photographer for the California Academy of Sciences, ridden since the age of 5, polo player, went to the arctic at 15 and “thought I saw my first polar bear, but it turned out to be a refrigerator being airlifted instead”. Raising Money For: The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults