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Mongol rally, part 1: Team Flatlanders

June 12, 2009

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps  </span>
    The Mongol Rally helps preserve the unique livelihoods and cultures of Mongolian families through raising money for innovative Mercy Corps programs. Photo: Thatcher Cook for Mercy Corps

Did you ever have the urge to propel yourself for 8,000 miles or more from the United Kingdom to Mongolia, strapped into a contraption that you and your friends have funded and designed? Ever wanted to embark on an international adventure with nothing but a hastily-scribbled roadmap, the ingenuity of MacGyver and drive of Columbus? Then you might be interested in learning more about an audacious fundraising project slated to begin in just a few weeks: the 2009 Mongol Rally.

This once-in-a-lifetime event features dozens of completely crazy contestants, driving across a third of the world to raise some big cash for programs that empower people in some of the most remote corners of the world: places with exotic, jaw-breaking names. Unfortunately, they’re also places where natural disasters and economic hardship have hit families hard. Mercy Corps is working along many of the routes the Rally contestants will travel.

Mercy Corps has partnered with the Mongol Rally for yet another round this year to raise funds that will meet needs across Mongolia’s epic deserts and sweeping steppes. These incredible programs help Mongolia's people achieve economic independence and sustainability, bringing real change to rural communities and herders.

If you’re interested in far-flung destinations and extreme travel, this rally is the adventure to follow. You can keep track of teams with names like Creeping Blandness Prevention Group and Airag Addicts as they rumble precariously from London, England to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Let me introduce you to a couple of courageous guys in the rally: Andrew and Mike of Team Flatlanders. These guys will first fly to Scotland, where they will buy and modify a car. After that, they’ll take a ferry to mainland Europe, drive to Barcelona and then finally take off for Mongolia in whatever automobile they’ve managed to piece together by July 19. In his own words, Mike — who recently worked as a scuba instructor — says, “[I’m] putting myself completely into the unknown and seeing what happens. This is what gives me passion in life, what makes me want to see more.”

For the whole story of Team Flatlanders, click here. You can also check out their website, which tells why they’re tackling the Rally, in their own words.

You can follow the bravery — or insanity — of these teams, as well as contribute to the cause right here on the Mercy Corps website. Support those supporting us, I always say.