Katy Willings is the Mongol Derby Chief, and erstwhile Chief of Adventures at The Adventurists.
Based in Bristol, UK, she was a junior international dressage rider in her teens. She rode in the inaugural Mongol Derby, the world's longest horse race, in 2009, sparking a later endurance riding career which saw her compete up to 120kms internationally, and became a full-time Adventurist in 2010, working on the Derby, and later the Ice Run, Icarus Trophy and Monkey Run.
In the course of producing high profile events for the Adventurists she has ridden vintage Russian motorcycles in -30 (and got the damn things started in -40 when no-one else could), wrangled with customs in far-flung places to get equipment and people in country, managed local and international teams to deliver logistically complex and culturally significant goods and services. And learned to fly a paramotor. Kind of. She finally did her motorcycle test in May 2018 (5 years late then) and will be taking to the open road, legally, this summer.
She has ambitions to cycle the iron curtain, to fly her paramotor over Victoria Falls, to ride from New York to Buenos Aires as Aime Schiffely once did. In the meantime she'll be wielding a clipboard and a satellite phone in her spiritual home of Mongolia this summer, and manning the airwaves during the Mongol Derby (it's live now!) in the operations room.
She declares herself to be utterly devoid of talent, and proof that talent is no barrier to doing whatever the hell you want. One day she will ride at Grand Prix and further prove this. She has worked with horses in Europe, Mongolia and Malawi, and men and machines in Morocco, Siberia, Sierra Leone. She has had as much adventure putting on the adventures, as the participants have had taking part. Oftentimes, a great deal more.
Moving to Bristol in 2010
Struggling to call herself an adventurer
Spending most of her life on a horse
Happening on adventure by accident after losing her best friend in 2008
Fighting to make the world less boring
Being 25 and living in London and living for the weekend
The Rickshaw Run how it came about and why she decided to do it
What is it and how you plan for it!
Starting with a New Years Eve Party then 2 weeks to get to the finish line!
Being 40Km from the finish line and rolling the rickshaw….
Driving to the finish line and finishing the race
Being lucky to walk away from the crash
First hearing about the Mongol Darby!
A healing, a closure, and a change in attitude about herself
Being a glorious amateur!
What adventure means to Katy
Applying for the Mongol Darby and being placed on the reserve list
Not being able to let it go and also not being able to commit to the challenge
Having 10 weeks to prepare and having to change her expectations for the race
Running, cycling and riding horses to build up endurance and to be as fit as possible
Loving history and reading up on the historically and cultural aspects of the race
Was the race even possible? Could it be done?
Dealing with the unknowns
Becoming friends with her fellow competitors
The structure of the race, and what it was like on a daily basis ‘glorious isolation’
Riding 1000km over 9 days…
How completing the race changed the direction of her life
What she’s leant from working at the Adventurists
The difficulties of making money from adventure
Getting the flying bug and what the next challenge is going to be
Her plan to cycle the Iron Curtain
Advice to fill your life with adventure and why it’s ok to do things for pleasure
Her side hustle in Mongolia - Morindoo
Insta (Katy) - @willingskaya
Insta (Morindoo) - @morindooadventures
Website - Morindoo - www.morindoo.com
Website - The Mongol Derby - www.theadventurists.com
Twitter - Katy - @KatyAdvntrists
Twitter - Mongol Derby - @mongolderbylive
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