The longest rally in the world or how to get lost in Mongolia
The Mongol Rally rules are simple: One: drive a small car no greater than 125cc. Two: you’re on your own, there’s no support from the organisers. Three: raise at least £1,000 for charity.
The world’s longest overland rally kicks off under these three conditions. A journey of close to 15,000 kilometres starting out in the United Kingdom and finishing in Siberia, in the city of Ulan-Ude. The winner isn’t the first to cross the line, it’s all about just getting there. Quite an achievement if you bear in mind that there’s no support from the organisers, or aid stations along the way, or even a fixed route.
This crazy car dash across Mongolia started in 2004 with only six teams and in the last few years this number has shot up to over 500. Not suitable for all ages or all budgets, the idea behind the Mongol Rally is to have fun, expect the unexpected, sharpen your wits, discover amazing places, intermingle with local communities and help those in need. The Adventurists, organisers of the rally, which this year starts on 16 July, take charge of arranging the main participants’ meetings in the start and finish city, and of auctioning off the vehicles once the race is over. All the money raised goes to charity.
“Don’t spend too much time planning your route or poring over maps and guides, find out what there is when you get there”, advise the organisers. In previous years, the challenge of improvising the route has led teams to divert to Iran and Pakistan, and even to the Arctic Circle. In Mongolia there’s literally no urban development except in the capital, Ulan Bator. Crossing the endless steppes inhabited by nomads and sleeping in a ‘ger’, one of the typical portable dwellings will be just one part of this adventure, which invites you to get lost in order to find yourself. Pick your vehicle, fill it up and throw the maps away. And remember: “If nothing goes wrong, it’s because everything has gone wrong”. That’s the spirit of this race.