A MUM-of-two is gearing up to take on a gruelling endurance challenge in which she must solely navigate a team of 25 horses across 1,000km of untamed Asian wilderness.

Zoe Geddes, 26, will take on the Mongol Derby next August – renowned for being the longest and toughest horse race on earth.

The race has been organised since 2009 and traces the steps of the Mongolian postal message system set up by legendary Mongol Empire leader Genghis Khan in 1224 – whose mighty horse messenger system connected half the planet.

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The race follows the postal route established by Genghis Khan

For the last decade, race chiefs have been rebuilding this ancient network to stage the world’s greatest equine adventure race.

The Mongolian horses used are semi-feral and well suited to the extreme and varied terrain. The race covers high passes, deep valleys, wooded hills, rivers, wetland, sandy dunes, rolling hills and the vast expanse of the Mongolian steppe.

Zoe, from Llanidloes, says it has long been a dream to compete in the race, even if her invite took her completely by surprise.

“It was one of those things where I applied for it but probably didn’t think I’d ever have a chance of getting in,” she said.

“But now I’ve been accepted I simply have to do it. It’s been a dream to do it since I was a child.

“I’ve always loved Mongolia. We were quite nomadic as a family growing up, I’ve lived all over Powys and we spent time living in a yurt, as we were quite poor. So I think this event will be a great way to explore the culture.”

Zoe, who was born and spent most of her life in Llanidloes, moved to Lydbury North, near Bishop’s Castle, a few years ago, where she is now a self-employed horse breeder.

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To complete the 10-day race is seen as a massive accomplishment in itself, as only half the participants usually finish the race in any given year. But Zoe is confident she could become the first British winner – even though she only became involved with horses about a decade ago.

She said: “I came to horse riding quite late, when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter who’s now 11.

“We lived near a riding stables and I got qualified. I now work full-time with horses so I’m in a good position to both train and work. I ride horses for a living and think I have a fair chance to win but I need to get better at the other aspects of the race, like GPS and map reading.”

Even though Zoe is delighted to have the opportunity there is now just the tiny matter of raising the entry fee required to compete in the Mongol Rally – which stands at a gargantuan £11,375.

“Hundreds of people from across the world enter and only around 40 get to compete, it’s usually for the elite or upper class. I’m very grateful I’ve been invited, it’s just a crazy price for entry,” added Zoe.

The exact course changes every year and is kept secret until shortly before the race begins.

The entry fee covers 25-27 Mongolian horses per rider, a support team, pre-race training and access to the support stations along the way. Riders must change horses every 40km at these support stations. Regular vet checks will monitor the condition of the horses and the vets may impose time penalties if riders push their horses too hard.

Zoe is supporting two charities during the race; Mercy Corps Mongolia who work with the Mongolian people and their landscape, and the official charity of the race, Cool Earth, who work alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction.

The race will be televised and posted on YouTube and social media. Zoe will be posting throughout race and you can keep tabs on her via a live tracker.

You can help Zoe reach her fundraising target by visiting her Facebook page and clicking donate.