Monday, August 25, 2014

Bookham student driving 10,000 miles to Mongolia for charity

A UNIVERSITY student from Bookham who is taking part in a 10,000-mile intercontinental rally has reached Russia after driving a clapped-out old car across Europe and Asia for four weeks.

Burnhams Road resident Michael Vaux, 21, is a member of a team of five Loughborough University students making their way across Central Asia in two old Nissan Micras as participants in the Mongol Rally.

Calling themselves The Monglineers, the students have taken on the adventure – a run through up to 40 countries from the Goodwood Circuit to Ulan Bator in Mongolia – in a bid to raise money for charities Cool Earth and Save The Children.

In their most recent blog post on Monday, the team wrote: "We are now sitting in Russia writing this, and are about to head into Mongolia, some of the toughest driving on the planet.

"Russian mechanics have just told us we won't make it."

Along the way the team – Mr Vaux plus Joe Jackson, Max Coleman, Ash Lowe and Alex Jackson – have faced electrical storms, rabid dogs, police bribes, hangovers from black market beer, salty fermented horse milk balls and an earthquake.

To date, they have raised more than half of their £2,000 target.

The event is described as the "greatest adventure in the world" and requires competing vehicles to have engines no bigger than 1,200cc. It is not considered to be a race, as the idea is not to finish first, merely to finish.

Mr Vaux said he and his friends had entered "to put our ingenuity and recklessness to good use".

So far, they have made their way through Europe into Turkey and across the Caspian Sea. They then drove through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan towards the finish in Mongolia.

Along the way, they have been shooting footage of their adventures using a remote control drone camera.

Mr Vaux's mother, Kim, said she was proud of her son's efforts but admitted she had been worried for the team's safety.

She said: "I haven't been sleeping very well this last week. They are very sensible and capable young men but parents worry and the toughest part of the journey is before them.

"When Michael first told us about this a year or so ago we thought he would lose interest, and we were in denial. Well, he proved us wrong."

Despite the jovial mood of the team's blog posts, a sober warning on their website reads: "This is not a glorified holiday. It's an unsupported adventure and so, by its very nature, extremely risky.

"You really are on your own and you really are putting both your health and life at risk."

To keep updated on the adventures of The Monglineers visit www.themonglineers.co.uk

To donate, visit www.just giving.com/themonglineers

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