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10,000 miles, 15 countries, three girls, one yellow car!

Soon to be Oasis travellers, Amy Sweeting, Caroline Brady and Sarah Hardy have spent the last 6 weeks driving the Mongol Rally, an annual charity fundraising event which involves driving unsupported from the UK to Ulan Bataar in Mongolia!

Amy, Caroline (both aged 22) and Sarah (turned 19 driving through Kazakhstan!) have all worked for the past three years at summer and Easter play schemes for children with disabilities, run by a charity called Disability Challengers. The girls decided they would like to try to raise money for them by doing something a bit different and came up with the idea of doing the Mongol Rally.

The Rally is organised, but unsupported, meaning that teams choose their own routes, sort out their own visas, vehicle etc. and if they have any problems, such as their car suddenly belching smoke from underneath the bonnet, they have to deal with it! The girls took the southern route to Mongolia, regarded as the most challenging one, going through Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan before taking in Russia and finally Mongolia. When Amy’s mum asked why they’d chosen to go that way rather than the more straightforward northern route, the response was “because that would be too boring”!

Their vehicle of choice is a 1.2 litre bright yellow Suzuki Wagon R, which already had 91,000 miles on the clock and is now nicknamed The Daremobile after their team name, Living on a Dare.

An all-girl team is pretty unusual so they’ve been a bit of a novelty in some of the countries they’ve gone through.  They’ve been stared at, have had to wear head-coverings and were not allowed to order food in some places, in keeping with local culture.  They’ve met with huge amounts of kindness and support from people they’ve met, especially in Iran where they were invited to sleep in the prayer room of a village school and in the house of an Iranian professional wrestler!

The girls have had to replace three wheels due to pothole damage (relying on Amy’s skills after a two day mechanics’ course!) as some of the roads are little more than potholes connected by rubble.  Some of the time they’ve been in convoy with other teams, other times they’ve been on their own, driving through some inhospitable territory which they’ve coped with brilliantly. The final leg was in a hired bus, along with other rally participants whose cars had also conked out and involved a driver with concussion, a horse in the road and some hardcore Norwegians!  So they had adventures right up to the end and crossed the finish line in Ulan Baatar in time for a huge party on 4th September.

From there Amy, Caroline and Sarah take the train to Beijing to begin their year of backpacking, which includes 15 weeks overlanding with us from Rio to Quito in South America.

A quote from the girls’ parents… “all of us kind of wish that they had chosen to do a safe little half marathon as a way of raising money, but we are immensely proud of what they’ve done even to get to the start line, so to be close to the finish is an incredible achievement. They’re brave, but bonkers!”

We agree!  Congratulations to all three and we hope they enjoy their journey on a big yellow truck as much as their one in a little yellow car!

Disability Challengers is a charity that provides much-needed play and fun opportunities for children who are often denied access to these.  You can sponsor Amy, Caroline and Sarah at www.justgiving.com/livingonadare and find out more about Disability Challengers at www.disability-challengers.org.

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2 Responses

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  1. Amy's Mum says

    This is Amy’s mum here – thanks for printing this account of their trip. They have had an amazing adventure although I think their parents have all aged about 10 years in the last six weeks!

  2. Kathy Findlay says

    we’ve watched Amy’s mum’s facebook updates with so much interest. Sounds like a fun, adventurous trip. Well done girls!



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