It’s been a life-changing year for PE teacher Vikki Grainge.
Not only did she get married to husband David in September.
But in August, she took part in, and survived, the longest, toughest horse race in the world, The Mongol Derby, raising thousands of pounds for brain injury charities.
Only 36 out of the initial 48 competitors managed to finish the self-guided 1,000km race across the Mongolian steppe on semi-wild Mongolian horses.
The race has to be competed within 10 days, with riders coving at least 100km a day and eating ans sleeping with Mongolian families in their traditional shelters, called Gers.
The welfare of the horses is paramount, with regular vet checks, and mounts have to be changed every 40km.
During the race, Vikki, aged 32, rode 28 different horses.
She said: “The Mongolian people showed us great hospitality and I had a staple diet of goat for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 10 days, either mixed with rice or in a broth.
“But however it came, it was fresh and just the protein needed to keep my fatigued muscles going.
“Water was boiled and readily available at each of the 28 horse stations.
“I was very strict with ensuring I always added my water purification tablets and electrolytes.
“After seeing some poorly riders, I was determined that I would not get ill.
“Being on a drip in the middle of the steppe did not look like fun.”
Vikki, who funded the trip herself, has raised £7,554 in sponsorship which will be split equally between the Impaired Consciousness Research Group and Holy Cross Hospital, in Surrey.
She said: “The derby was far more mentally challenging than I ever thought it would be and I was at times really questioning my sanity, and indeed my ability to go on.
“At these times I thought of all the extremely generous donations that people had made and I dug that little bit deeper and persevered.
“This money will go a long way to help those that have to, on a daily basis, push themselves and dig deeper than most of us will ever know, just to complete simple, everyday tasks.”
Vikki thanked everyone for their generosity and added: “Overall it was an absolutely fantastic adventure.
“The scenery was beautiful, the people friendly, the horses amazing and I can honestly say that it was the toughest thing I will ever do.”