Quite a trip: the 10,000 mile Mongol Rally is underway

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

Passing over a huge swath of land from London to Mongolia, 10,000 miles in all, is the Mongol Rally. With 8 time zones, no set route to follow and no help or support available once you set off, it’s a crazy run. The rules require a tiny car (maximum 1.2 litres in engine size), a minimum charity contribution and serious drive for adventure. Also, some time – on average, the trip takes close to 6 weeks.

Since its inception in 2004, the Mongol rally has attracted participants from 18 to 74 years old, requiring a total of 41,539 visas as they started accepting applications for the 2011 race. As this breakdown shows, in that same period of time (2004-2010), the teams have suffered 9 breakdowns each on average, a total of 34 crashes and have altogether consumed over 217 goat testicles and paid out $9,890 in bribes. 

In short, not for the faint of heart.

(On the plus side, however, the teams have raised over $1.6 million for charity – and rising.)

Mongolia!

From the official Mongol Rally site, their mission is set out thusly:

Imagine you’re lost in a massive desert, hundreds of miles from civilisation, driving a car even your granny would be embarrased by. 50% of your wheels just fell off and a search for tools turns up a dirty sock and two dried apricots. This is what the Mongol Rally is about. Getting stuck, lost and in trouble, then finding your way out armed with just your wits and the sock and apricots. It’s about setting forth to tackle 1/3 of the surface of the Earth; unprepared, ill-advised and with no idea of what might happen. What you generally find is a whole giant shit heap of adventure. 10,000 miles of pure adventure over mountains, deserts and some of the most remote, challenging terrain on the planet. All in a tiny car designed for doing the weekly shop.

Or, from the event’s Official Handbook (PDF): “Take a dump on health & safety – do the Mongol Rally”.

The Social Media Syndicate’s Mongol Rally Car for the 2011 rally. Photo Credit: The Planet D

They’re not kidding about the small cars.

It’s not just cars, either. There are motorcycles too, and many ambulances as well. (When you think about it, an ambulance is a pretty good bet for a rugged, safe vehicle that needs to go 10,000 miles.)

The rally, which kicked off July 23 in London, will continue for the next several weeks. This is not a race – the point is to make it through unscathed (or as unscathed as possible), raise money for charity and have an incredible adventure. In addition to the entry fee and minimum charitable donation, at the end of the rally the cars are donated to charity in Mongolia before the teams head home.

Mongol Rally’s kickoff party, The Festival of Slow. Photo credit: Mike Sowden

You can follow the many teams on the official site`s map, a Marauder’s Map of all the teams and their location on one screen.

I’ve been following fellow travel bloggers Rick, Dave, Deb and Sherry of the Social Media Syndicate on their crazy adventures, and I’ve been seriously considering doing the rally myself. Until then, I’ll just have to stick to the crazy stories coming out of the 2011 rally run!

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