It was mid-September last year when Brian Canty first suggested we take on the challenge of the Mongol Rally. We were sitting in a pub in Berkeley, CA, having had just met each other just one month before at UC Berkeley’s business school orientation. Though we were still getting to know each other, it was pretty clear that we were going to be good friends. We had both become disgruntled with the hypocrisy and downward spiral of the investment-banking world and had quit our jobs to go back to school in California and follow the Mark Zuckerberg technology start-up dream.
“Dude, screw another internship at a large company. Let’s do something crazy this summer. Let’s buy a shitty car and race it across the world for charity,” Brian half-joked. I definitely shocked him when I quickly pulled out my laptop to sign us up for The Adventurist’s Mongol Rally, no questions asked. Though we’ve sometimes been the target of half-envious, half-scared-for-our-future looks from our business school classmates, we haven’t looked back since.
What is the Mongol Rally?
When we pushed the submit button on the Mongol Rally website, all we knew was that we were expected to take a crappy car and race it 10,000 miles, from one end of a landmass to the other. Though the Mongol Rally itself specifies the point of departure – London, UK – as well as the finish line – Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia – no suggestions are provided for the journey in between. Rather, racers are encouraged to do as little planning as possible and rely on wit and fortitude to get across the world. It’s what the Mongol Rally calls the “Unroute.” Around 150 entrants depart on July 20th and arrive in Mongolia at various times over the back half of August.
“We decided that the most efficient way to travel would be to pass through Northern Europe and Russia; but we’re not in this for the efficiency.”
Despite the encouraged spontaneity, we needed a general idea of our route for visa purposes. We decided that the most efficient way to travel would be to pass through Northern Europe and Russia; but we’re not in this for the efficiency. Having traveled through those regions previously, we decided to try something different: to traverse the South, through countries including Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The following Prezi gives a graphical depiction of our route:
Our Team: The Breast Friends
Once we signed up, it was important to build our team. I had recently traveled through Scandinavia and Amsterdam with an adventurous buddy from high school, Otto Magdanz, who was about to graduate from Harvard Business School. Otto is the perfect travel companion; he is always ready to try absolutely anything (and is known for taking nude photos in some of the most scenic places in the world). Both are – in my opinion – requirements for a Mongol Rally teammate.
Otto’s classmate at Harvard, Khaled Jafar, heard about the idea and loved it; the next day, he followed through with his entry. And lastly, we rounded up our motley crew by adding Nate Wojcik, another classmate of mine who is known for dancing through the streets of Portland in a gold banana hammock. Chad Brinton, our sixth member, had to unfortunately resign from participating in the event last minute, but has been instrumental in helping us prepare for the inevitable car troubles that we will have, and he’ll be watching over us during the race.
With this dynamic crew of six, the “Breast Friends” team was set.
Why Are We Doing This?
Sure, for adventure and a shot at an incredible, unique life experience. But we’re also in it to raise money for a cause near to our hearts. Since most of our team is from or has lived in the Boston area and we have all had family members afflicted with cancer, it was a no brainer to partner with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute as our charity sponsor. All of us have lost close family members to various cancers, particularly breast cancer, so we solidified our name as “The Breast Friends” and began raising money towards our goal of $25,000.
“The only rule so far is that whoever is in the driver’s seat talking to the border crossing guards has to be in a silly costume, such as a power ranger or banana suit.”
In addition to monetary sponsorships, since we are paying for all the expenses out of our pocket (so all donated money goes to Dana Farber), we were also in need of in-kind donations to help us along the way. Gu Energy agreed to provide us with sustenance for our travels and Rhone Apparel is donating awesome athletic apparel to get us through the hikes and adventures. Rhone’s gear is anti-stink, which will come in huge given that we’ll be five dudes sitting in close quarters and likely won’t be showering for days. We are currently a few days away from race date and have gotten last minute contributions from Mountain Hardware, Hootsuite Social Media Dashboard and Jack Links Beef Jerky, which we are very thankful for! Lastly, we thought it would be nice to collect signatures of supporters across the world, so Sakura of America donated outdoor marking pens so people across the world can sign our chariot with words of encouragement!
This week (the week of July 14, 2014), we will all travel to London to collect our car, a 1994 Toyota Lucida that we bought (not having ever seen) on eBay Motors. It is currently being stored in a British lady’s rose garden (a lady who we also have never met). We will spend one week painting our car pink, getting some routine maintenance done, and drinking a lot of pints. We’ll also stock up on beef jerky and water, and make up silly rules for our adventure (when not followed, a fine will have to be paid and the money will later used for a celebratory finish line party. This is called a “Kangaroo Court”). The only rule so far is that whoever is in the driver’s seat talking to the border crossing guards has to be in a silly costume, such as a power ranger or banana suit. This should make crossing the Russian border interesting! We are happy to take suggestions for other rules in the comments section of this blog and will implement them into our strategy.
Please continue to follow our progress on Passion Passport and interact with us here or on any of our social media outlets. We will post live updates when we have internet access and would love to hear from people who are following our journey! Of course, please also consider donating to our cause.