Katy Willings

Give this  woman a motorbike, a horse, or even a tuk-tuk!
She’ll show all the men what to do with it!

Proving that you don’t need a massive beard to be tough and capable in the wildest parts of the world, we catch up with professional explorer and expedition facilitator extraordinaire Katy Willings 

There are few places in the world, that Katy hasn’t been, and most of the places she feels most at home seem to be the most extreme.

Whether she’s riding horses through Mongolia in the toughest horse race in the world, or riding old Russian motorbikes with sidecars across frozen lakes, she’s sure to be smiling.

With a positive outlook on life and the endurance levels that would put many military professionals through their paces, Katy is an extraordinary lady! 

We find out more about her adventures and how she’s developed her own business horse trekking through Mongolia.

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So, just to kick things off, what first brought you into adventure travel and gave you that travel bug?

A horrible tragic accident is the short of it…

When one of my very best friends from university had entered one of The Adventurists’ adventures, The Rickshaw Run, where you run across the Indian subcontinent. He died very suddenly aged 23. He had a pulmonary embolism and I was 25 at the time. And I ended up going instead of him, simply as a kind of penance because he couldn’t.

We sort of shook hands on it at his funeral… It was all university friends, there were six of us going to do the Rickshaw run together. I was really not one of those six. At the time I didn’t even fancy the idea of flying as far as India, just the long haul thing was enough of a barrier. I had reservations about so much of the trip. I just refer back to these conversations that I’d had with Ellis the last time I saw him which was, I guess 10 days before he died and he was so excited about this trip and he just wouldn’t take onboard any of my negativity or what I considered an insensible hack. He was so enthusiastic about it and was sure it was going to be life changing and fantastic so I just tried to put that hat on for him really.

I had very low expectations of enjoying myself. I genuinely really, really hated the idea. But something happened to me out there…

I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the contingency and the agency of being on an adventure. And this huge amplitude between… I mean we literally stayed in a Maharaja’s Palace for two nights.

We couldn’t afford to go anywhere. We weren’t posh and in very remote places, they weren’t even in the map.

We slept in some guy’s outhouse. A stable basically. And those were enormously appealing, just the fact that we were street rats and not princes and princesses. We were just people basically, you got stripped right back to the very basics of where you were trying to get to and what you needed to get there fed and functioning.

And that was kind of a penny drop for me really, having thought, “I don’t think adventure and travel go together.” Suddenly, they were a collective term. Adventure travel. And then I was so lucky. So the day that I finished the Rickshaw Run, I used to say we crashed the Rickshaw on the very last day.

Heading up the mountain pass in Shillong is beautiful. Hill station right up in the far Northeast of India which is our finish line. And there were probably 30 or 40 teams all converging on the finish line. So it did look like the wacky races. There were people pulling crazy maneuvers and overtaking each other on these mountain hairpins. Me and my teammates totally amongst them. And anyway, we rolled it and coming around the mountain hairpin. The main reason that we rolled it apart from going way too fast is if we came round the mountain hairpin way too fast on two wheels, there was going to be trucks coming down the hill towards us. And so I think Tony was driving, he steered away from the truck rather than towards it which just flipped us right over like we were already too far gone to save it. We got hit back into the road by the truck. So if we hadn’t, we were skating across the road, sparks flying everywhere on the wheels of the rickshaw and we would have just gone off a cliff.

Hit by a truck, potentially survive or just go straight over the cliff. So it should have been a really sobering moment but in the end I must have just had an adrenaline farce really. And when we got to the finish line…

So we hacked the roof of the rickshaw and just carried on as if that hadn’t happened. A couple of us were sore, we were pretty scratched up and stuff but genuinely, we didn’t really understand the physics of how we’d survived that and I think both of me and Tony felt like there was a part of Ellis that was involved somehow. The friend that had died.

So yeah, the finish line, The Adventurists who’d organized it… Well firstly, they were really pissed off that I absolutely mashed their rickshaw. They were busy trying to sell their next adventure which was the Mongol Derby. So it came to market exactly the same day that I finished the Rickshaw Run and survived. Probably my nearest brush with death to date.

This was again, it was a good coincidence and I think I was the only vaguely horsey person there at the finish line. So obviously they’re really good at hyperbole, The Adventurists. I love their dramatic humor style and they were like, “The toughest, craziest, most ambitious thing that has been invented since Julius Caesar blah blah blah.” It’s going to be a week, yada yada yada.

Because I’d ridden since before I could walk. There’s the Mongols in that category and then there’s me. Not very many other people probably are on horses by the time they’re less than a year old.

A lot of the hyperbole was aimed at the, “The horses are wild.” And it just didn’t really stick with me, I was like, “Yeah, okay, show me a horse and I could ride it.” But the distance definitely transfixed me and the remoteness as well. The idea of navigating on your own all that way. I could see why it was the biggest challenge they’d ever come up with but I also thought, “You know what, maybe I could do that.”

I’m still bleeding by the way, with road rash and bits of glass stuck in my elbows and knees.

But I remember saying aloud to the assembled bar at the finish line, “I think that’s tough but you know what? I think I could do that, pass me the entry form.” And so that’s what happened, I did The Rickshaw Run and The Mongol derby within the space of a year.

And I think not really with an expectation of making a career out of it or a name for myself as somebody adventurous or anything else but I had definitely discovered something that made me feel more alive and vibrant.

And I think I’d also just made connections and friends which had just blown apart my expectations of who my friends and associates could and should be. Everybody taking part in that adventure, there was such a scope and such a range of characters and individuals and I’d just completely fallen in love with meeting strangers and finding that you actually have a lot more in common than you might have realized.

I think my life is very potted and cloistered and sheltered really before then. I had very linear Oxford education and then went and did the kinds of jobs that Oxford graduates get recruited into. And so you are constantly just exposed to people on exactly that same linear path and if you fall off it for some reason, well that’s on you. You obviously just weren’t quite as clever as the other people or whatever.

To want to improvise or see something different is seen as like a flaw really. And here I was, mixing with people who… Some of them were successful in that sort of linear sense that I was familiar with but there was just a 100 other fascinating people whose life stories, I just couldn’t have made it up and I like being in that kind of company. I needed it, it really made me feel alive and I’d found something of a tribe.

So I think by the end of that year, when I did The Mongol Derby and it was the first edition obviously, it never been attempted before and there was a lot of chit chat beforehand about whether it was even possible, et cetera, et cetera. And as a first draft, I think it was remarkably complete and brilliantly executed. Even that first edition but obviously on every single aspect of the event, there could have been tweaks or polished up or there was information that we could only have got by just bloody doing it. Which would need to inform all the subsequent ones.

I was a management consultant, that was my job at the time. I was quite generous with my time on the debrief side of things and I put together points and suggestions on the marketing side, on the strategy side, on the rules, on how to manage the horses, on how the select the riders, on how to prepare the riders. And I also said, “I think you should maybe consider having somebody a bit horsier in the company and field all those kinds of questions.” There was a lot of stuff which the next batch of riders would want to know. You need a rider talking to you basically. So I kind of put my CV in with my debrief suggestions and eventually they gave way, they were like, “Yeah, maybe you can come and help out for a few weeks.” I’d actually already quit my job in London by that stage.

I was sure that there was only going to be better things for me. Well I wasn’t sure actually, I knew I couldn’t stay where I was. It was poisonous and it was certainly no tribute to my friend that died at age 23 to just keep aging and not trying to become a happier, more fulfilled person. So I kind of gone, “Right, stop here, pick up your Christmas bonus and get out there.” And I was working for an NGO in Sierra Leone. An old friend of mine was working in a pediatric healthcare charity. I thought on the fundraising, basically everything non-medical for a very medical charity. And if they needed more manpower, so I went out and worked with her in Freetown for five, six months to get my bearings and to see the world that’s out there. Potentially looking at public health and a masters in development and a career in that side of things.

But I’d only been there for a couple of weeks when I got an email through from The Adventurists saying, “Actually we are getting a lot of queries into the inbox which none of us here can really field so maybe you could come and, like I said, help for a few weeks in the run up to the event and be the press officer throughout the event.” Effectively deputy chief of The Derby. I had to make a call on, “Well, is it worth flying home from Freetown for a few weeks on basically no pay?” And I kind of thought, “Well if you don’t make yourself indispensable you can always come back to Freetown and keep.”

Yeah. So rolled the dice. So I showed up in Bristol with a bike and a backpack and I’d only been there like two, three days and they were like, “Actually when we said help out, could you maybe sign this contract and stay?” And I went, “Phew.” I had been secretly hoping for all along but I did sign it and took a stack of paper and actually started doing work that I was invested in. Which no way back from there really.

I was at The Adventurists during a period where Tom and Jen were starting a family and they were quickly, completely consumed with that. So I ended up fairly unsupervised taking over adventures and I just got to learn by doing. So I became a pretty competent production manager and event manager. But on the derby, I was responsible for all of the marketing and sales as well. Like trying to find enough horsemen and women who wanted to take part.

You can say, “it’s The Mongol Derby.” And everyone is like, “Oh shit, yeah I’d love to do that.” It’s on their adventure bucket list. But yeah, certainly in 2010 when I pitched up, it really wasn’t. Nobody had heard of it, nobody wanted to talk about it and certainly nobody wants to pay like 10 grand to do it. So we had an uphill struggle to build that market but again, what a brilliant challenge for me to be just left to it.

That’s an amazing story. Your indoctrination by force really and the desire to fulfill Ellis’ spirit of adventure. It’s amazing to take on that and for it to transform your life in such a profound way.

Yeah. And sometimes I feel really squirmish about using him and his memory as a sort of narrative device but honestly, if he’d been in that car with us on the journey when he was talking about it and then you see me now, you couldn’t help but laugh. I was literally such a townie. I was absolutely, “Mate that’s a shit idea and it’s your entire holiday allowance and you’re going to get robbed, you’re going to get some sort of disease and this.” I literally could not have been less enthusiastic about his life of adventure. So definitely there’s been a proper 180 from me in terms of attitude and Ellis, it turns out, was right all along.

What advice would you give to someone who’s perhaps not had that sort of catalyst to start things off but was inspired to go and do something like that whether that’s with the adventurists or through another channel?

That’s a good question. So I think there is a soft entry part into adventure which is to do something that is semi-organized like what The Adventurists do because you are guaranteed that kind of community which like I said, was one of the most brilliant things that I took away from the Rickshaw Run was like, “Oh, there’s other people who want to live this way and who feel like this.” And as an offshoot from doing something semi-organized, you can obviously find your tribe and do a 100 other things just with them.

You can start to organize your own adventures. I think we all live in a material world and let’s be honest, far flung travel if you need specialist equipment and like three different visas and a lot of stuff, you have to work pretty hard to save up to actually do that kind of stuff. You might think it’s easier to try and get sponsorship and become a adventure personality, but it’s not. And that’s a more than full-time job if you want to make your expeditions as your calling card.

So most people often consume this kind of adventure and lifestyle as it’s completely for their leisure time. So I would probably advise people to save up and buy something which is already on the market as a first draft and get that community. Help you find your tribe and your feet. But then in the future… Personally I think it’s great to find a new way, a mode of travel and apply that worldwide. So if you’re a rider like me, to go and ride in various far flung places, there’s enough that’s familiar and then there’s enough that’s novel that you’re always stretching and learning and connecting with new people. And similarly, I started being a biker a few years ago as well.

To motorcycle tour, what a beautiful, beautiful mode of travel. To feel the earth move past you and stop and talk to people and find the places in between the places. That’s absolute gold. And I’m sure people who sail or surf or like I say, have an element that they particularly connect with would fell the same.

Taking part in The Adventurists as you say, has got some structure. There’s a place, a net of sorts around the events and I suppose apart from being an instigator of first event where you can’t talk to someone about what their experiences are like if it’s the launch event but certainly if you’ve got the ritual run, people can share experience. You’ve got a bit of expectation. You can prepare mentally for some of the situations. But after you’ve evolved and done your own trips or led the way, scoping out new activities for The Adventurists or through your own business, what’s been perhaps your most challenging solution and how did you cope with it? I mean obviously nearly dying in a rickshaw is pretty challenging.

I don’t know because I love scoping out new places and adventures and trying to find good people who can help you get what you want and what you need. I suppose that some of the most challenging things have been working in environments where you’re not really the expert in the room and it’s not your language so you’re working in translation. There’s always a lag and a delay. Sometimes you’re working in a patriarchal or… I do a lot of work in Morocco trying to setup the monkey run out there. Moving horses across the country. You get a constant feeling that it’s actually a hindrance that you’re female and the boss.

Yeah. I haven’t felt it anywhere else honestly but yeah, Morocco I just remember thinking, “I’m not getting anywhere.” And it’s for the simple fact of having boobs. It’s causing me a mighty inconvenience and I found that quite frustrating. So to feel like you’re a fish out of water for cultural reasons when in general, I love getting dumped in the middle of nowhere with not enough time, not enough cash and no contacts. I’ve yet to solve some logistical pickle but that for me, you’re like James Bond but with a crap budget. That’s not fun, I actually got to account for that but I did not get a kick out of feeling like I was being abused or ignored or talked over.

But I think it’s all a really good learning experience. It came on leaps and bounds and we got there in the end by the skin of our teeth but we did get there.

Is that what got you inspired with learning about motor bikes as well?

Yeah. I took on the ‘Ice Run’ which was probably my favorite thing that I did at The Adventurists. I was devoted to that adventure.

It has some fantastic combination of nostalgia for the soviet period and Soviet engineering and ingenuity and there’s nothing more symbolically Soviet than the Ural motorcycle.

To pay homage to that vehicle in its homeland and show what it can do and also obviously spectacularly what it can do when it breaks down like three times a day was just a joy. I love my history so I found letting Russia represent Russia to itself and have international people come and celebrate some Russian heritage. I loved it, I absolutely loved it. And the cold as well. And also, I was really nervous. So Tom’s first baby was due the weekend that I was launching the Ice Run. So at the end of the previous year, he said, “I don’t think I’m going to get out to Russia so we’re handing you the Ice Run.” I’d never sat on a motorcycle in my life and was like, “This is going to be okay.”

And I had such trepidation about corralling a team of I guess, 25 bikers. I think we had 12 bikes or 13 bikes doing the run and two us.

So take 25 lifelong bikers and have me telling them about how to run the Ural and how to start the things and what I had to do to look after batteries and stuff. Apropo of nothing, I absolutely had to learn from a standing start. I had to do a Wiki search on what a carberator was and yeah, learn on the fly basically. But they just completely confounded my expectations. Again, I thought I would be belittled, sidelined, patronized, whatever. And I found biker people the most delightful. So much nicer than horse people, you can print that. They were really pretty cool people. And they completely took me in. It was quite wonderful, I didn’t really know what I was talking about but I was happy to learn and you know what? I learned to ride a bike and I was actually a pretty dieseled cross country rider by the time I’d run three or four ice runs because that’s where I learned. I learned to ride on rutted cross country ice and frozen lakes and up and down banks and very unorthodox.

Yeah. I could get the bike started in minus 40 when nobody else could and I could reverse par into stuff that didn’t look very promising. And I became really quite useful. So yeah, the challenge to learn on the job with motorbikes and with biker people, that again was wow, “Adventure are the kind of people that I want to spend my time with.” There were no negative expectations or connotations of, “Who’s this girl that doesn’t know anything?” I was willing to learn and they were willing to let me and listen which I really admired.

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What can you tell us about Morindoo? This is your own project, life after The Adventurists and I guess a passion of yours incorporating horses in Mongolia. What can you tell us about it?

So I guess it just embodes a more grown up version of me really. I think by the time I’d been at The Adventurists for a decade, I felt a lot older than most of the people coming on the events and I think was quite a lot older and I felt like I was never not on the carousel basically. And I wanted to be able to share this people more like me now. So it’s not about the hyperbole and the great banter to tell your mates when you get home again, I wanted it to stop being about how it looks and more about how things feel which is a bit more of a grownup concept I suppose.

Really how it started was… Well I was out trying to find horses for the Mongol Derby. If you can picture the logistics of that one, there’s a horse station at 40 kilometer intervals for a 1000 kilometers and every horse station you need say, 50 horses. So to found consistently good horsepower at intervals over a massive long distance presented challenges.

And there was one year where I had a really good looking 300 kilometers and then there had been a gap of about 100 and then another really good five or 600 kilometers. And it was mapped and I had the families and there was this chasm in the middle where I was really struggling to find horses and owners and thinking about solutions for it and I did the math to see if we could truck horses into position to deliver them and we couldn’t.

The answer was a fairly flat no. So again, trying to think around solutions that would enable my event to run and stick on it’s budget, I realized more Mongolian horses get herded 100s of kilometers to go to a race and you think all the time, it’s really not unusual for them to travel big distances. Let alone horses and riders. And then I thought, “Well maybe people would come and do that for fun, that actually sounds like my idea of fun.” So I ended up anyway, inventing this thing called The Delivery Run which was exactly that. Paying guests to come and herd horses into the currently vacant horse stations.

For the purposes of our event. And so they know they have a sideline but still pretty important role in the prepping of the Mongol Derby. I get horses wherever I need them that also arrive fit and in great condition because they’ve been trotting along for a few days and everybody’s happy. The event, it doesn’t cost them anything to have every single horse station properly manned and then eight or 10 people get a cracking holiday and I made a bit of money on the side. And I was like, “This is genius.” So what came out of running that Delivery Run a couple of times was that a lot of the transformative aspects of The Derby for me, the things that I have really changed my mind about remoteness, the outdoors, what horses are all about.

I was a dressage rider, horses were things to be decorative and high performing in an arena for a score in front of a judge and suddenly I was like, “Shit, this is what horses are really about.” They are a co-pilot, they’re a partner, they’re a weapon, they’re a thing you rely on for your survival. They’re an animal and so are you by the way and these revelations… Well, I had them during the Mongol Derby and there certainly is something very, very special about that even but what I saw from having people just come and ride in Mongolia not on the derby was that actually, it’s Mongolia that’s the transformative thing. They were having the same penny drops that I’d had racing 13 hours a day and roughing it to a serious extent. So you can up the comfort factor and you can up the… Not luxury because the luxury in Mongolia is space and time and a bit of a digital detox really but you can change the format and keep certain things in place and people will still have this enormous developmental shift.

And not just about what horses mean to them, but what other people mean to them as well. So I wanted my business to go in pursuit of those sort of penny drops more directly. So you could need a field of 50 and 25 staff running the event, you don’t need a Twitter feed describing your acts of heroism and all the rest of it. Actually, those could be a huge distraction, so for me, again, as the business developed and it’s a wonderful thing that it has by the way. I think The Derby is an institution, one that I’m proud of some association with that I’m not interested anymore in commentating on the derby and I know that many more people are but I think having run 10 of them, actually most of the anecdotes are the same. Someones horse ran away, put their hobbles on properly, the weather’s changed, yada, yada, yada. There’s been a medical emergency, whatever. These categories of incidents, it’s the characters changing year on year and I found the stories starting to get stayed. So yeah, for me to be able to step back and keep the experience incredibly personal and work with smaller groups and just really be there and witness when they have these fabulous personal experiences.

I wanted to stop just piling superlatives onto an experience and just let the experience sit there and be exactly what it is. So it is a bit more grownup, you don’t get medals and you’re not in a film if you come on one of my events but I think that’s quite deliberate. No celebrities made but really humans get to develop and slow down and reconnect and become self aware which I actually see quite a lot in the travel industry. People would call experiential travel or even the intersection of wellness travel. I find wellness a slightly wanky term but I do see something. People are interested in the old, more real, tangible or even intangible outcome.

Do you think that’s systematic of the transition of social media, Instagrams, the way in which certainly the younger generations consume travel in a photoshoot opportunity way rather than an experience way?


Do you think it’s a bit of fighting back against that?

Yeah I hope it’s the antidote to that, yeah I hope exactly. It’s a pushback against that style of consumption which is ultimately really destructive. For the individual I mean, I don’t think the environment particularly cares. You can photograph it ad nauseum but the actual internal toll of failing to enjoy things in real time on their own merit because it only really matters if it’s on YouTube and if people are interacting with it, that’s a sort of social… I don’t know, for me that’s a disease, that’s a real psychological disorder and people need some help with it.

It’s not their fault that they’re absolutely slaves in this dopamine addiction cycle.

And again Mongolia is so wonderful for that because well, there’s nowhere to charge your phone so after a day you’re on your own and you realize you don’t need anything else. It doesn’t matter, actually you’ve got everything that you need and that you desire right here with you in real time. And that I think is a really valuable, I’d say revelation. Rediscovery really, I think we always knew it and we just forgot.

Yeah. And is Mongolia… I mean obviously that’s where you’re operating at the moment, is that the scope or are you looking to other destinations that you may incorporate the same model to?

I think that’s what I’d like to promote in my travel experiences. Whether it’s through Morindoo and Mongolia or other stuff that I’m doing off my own back. So for example this year, for the first time I’m doing something non-Mongolia or non-Golia as I like to call it which is a sailing adventure. Well, a sailing and kayaking adventure race across the Sporades in Greece. It’s called The Argonauts. Basically it very loosely follows the opening stages of Jason’s quest aboard the Argo in Greek mythology. So we set sail from the same harbor and raced across the Sporades which is where the Argo set sail from 4000 years ago. And so it has this kind of mythological thread to it and this heroism as well because of the heroes that have gone before. So you have aspects that experiential, you have to enjoy this here in realtime and it’s not about being the fastest and the best athlete. It’s about being all round heroic, really.

So much safer, much easier to sail in and I could basically take on somebody who’s never been in a kayak and after two days training, they would be to race with the others. So very accessible, very challenging. A physical ordeal but still more of a all round spiritual, physical ordeal rather than just a sprint for the finish line, I guess.

I love the heroes in Greek Mythology, they’re never just the tallest or the strongest. They’re always very conflicted and complicated.

Who’s your target for that? Is it a younger demographic, is it a more mature offering?

It’s probably my age and older. I mean there’s a few who entered who are definitely younger than me but I think I’m not selling a suffer fest that’s for sure.

That’s nothing for me, I’m not going to make a virtue out of that. And I certainly did when I was working for The Adventurist like, “Yeah, this is really scaled back and you’re going to really suffer.” Now I see no reason in not giving people help and making it more pleasurable. I also like pushing them, they definitely get a nudge out towards their personal limits which is good, it’s a very healthy thing.

And what about yourself, have you got any personal adventures? Anything on your hitlist or bucket list. Something that you want to do, any personal adventures that you’ve got planned?

There’s more motorcycle tours which I would love to do. And I haven’t done any mountain sports since 2008. I only went skiing for a day and snapped my cruciate ligament.

And then me and my partner… It didn’t really put me off but we obviously had no health insurance or anything like that whilst working at The Adventurists and I just thought, “Maybe surfing is safer, maybe don’t go skiing again until you can afford to.”

Which has just kept me away but anyway, we were out in Switzerland last month and just watching people enjoy the mountains in a myriad of different ways made me think, “It’s time for you to get back out there, that is fantastic.” 

And I’m having a baby this summer which is exciting.

Okay, that’s a new adventure as well in itself.

So I think there’s going to have to be smaller, micro adventures and watching with somebody else. Do things for the very first time and enjoy being part of that rather than push for new summits and new horizons and stuff.

I have to say, I still intend to bring partner and baby potentially to Mongolia at the end of the year and I will still try and guide. There’s a ride that we do right out into the far west of the country which is stunning and I think if we were there, the two of us as a team, we could take it in turns to ride and to parent.

Such cool people that you meet. So yeah, I’m always thinking of beautiful new experiences but they tend to be a bit more contemplated these days rather than you point it out on an atlas and go, “Well this has never been done before.” I don’t need that, I don’t feel the need to do that. My ego is finally subsided a bit.

Yeah. I’ve been really lucky and also for most of them I was working so that adds a whole new framework to things. If you’re there on the setting up side and you get to watch all of the moving parts come together, that’s a incredibly rich experience. Actually in 2018, I got invited to go and compete in… I suppose the closest competitor would be really to The Mongol Derby. It’s a race in South Africa, Race The Wild Coast with horses. And to go back to being the consumer of adventure was just, it was extraordinary actually. I loved it, it was brilliant but yeah, I’d forgotten what it’s like to be the customer and to not have all of the information and to be corralled. And just to have yourself to look after as well, wow, how selfish is that?

Very indulgent!

It was all I had to for a year, five days. Pretty much 24 hours a day was survive and ride. I think that opportunity. I would hope for the rest of my life, me and Andre, my partner, one of us will be able to do something like that every couple of years because it’s a great teacher.And the other thing that I do some more of, so I did a bit of para motoring.

I ran the Icarus Trophy for The Adventurists for two years and all the X-Series as well. I had to learn to fly a little bit so that I didn’t sound like quite such an idiot talking to the pilots and I actually understand the race rules and protocols more clearly. And I really enjoyed that and I would love to do some paragliding. My absolutely dream ticket would be to para glide with Junior in a tandem with me. So then I would love the little person seeing the world as a magical place, not just a dangerous, complicated place. And I think human flight is about as magical as it gets. And Andre, my other half is a base jumper so there will be no tandem base jumping.

And I’m very lucky to have been brought up riding horses because they really are like wings and wheels and engine all in one. The world is your oyster if you can ride.

One last silly question… You’ve got five minutes to pack your bag and leave the country, what would you take and where would you go?

Great question. What would I take? A great pair of cowboy boots that I can ride or bike or hike all day in. I’ll be buried in my cowboy boots, you can ask anyone who’s met me. Sunscreen, I’m frighteningly fair. I’m almost transparent, it’s embarrassing. So even if I’m going somewhere wintry or underwater frankly, I would need to wear factor 50.

What else? A couple of belts, one and a spare because there’s not much you can’t fashion from a length of leather. That makes me sound super dodgy but yeah, that’s my practical side. Something to fasten stuff to other stuff. Duct tape, same reason. You’re never not going to need it.

A couple of big bank notes. I guess probably a couple of $100 bills. I mean you’d be an arsehole if you ended up stuck in the middle of nowhere for want of cash.

And then something that I can give away as a present probably. So if you need to call on the kindness of strangers I might end up in situations where that is the case, something from home that would be a good gift… Let’s see. Maybe a little model of one of my horses or photo or something like that, that I could give away. And a little hip flask. So my mom makes this fantastic sloe gin.

And as for where I’d go, lets see… I think next on my bucket list would be something like Iceland. Yeah, I think the idea of natural beauty and isolation and people living in harmony with the land.

I think they’d be the kind of people that I would enjoy and probably connect with quite naturally. And I’m ambivalent as to the weather and I think you get a lot of everything there.

You’re very exposed. I think I’d probably enjoy that.

To find out more about how you can get involved with Katy’s adventures , from rafting Lake Khovsgol and visiting Yak festivals
to horse riding through snow leopard country and watching the nomad games, visit