It’s madness of course. “It’s so stupid we thought we need to do it.” That’s Marcin Potepski the night before he set off on a 10,000 mile drive from Leith to Mongolia in a nine-year-old Ford Fiesta with a habit of overheating. The Mongol Rally is for people with dodgy cars and a spirit of adventure – and it raises money for charity.
We first met Marcin in the safe setting of the Fort Community Wing where he is one of the volunteers at Swietlica the Polish drop in club on Monday evenings.
Now, as his Facebook page shows, he is on the road to Mongolia in a car with 86,000 miles on the clock and good wishes from friends and sponsors plastered all over the paintwork. His aim is to do the estimated six week drive in a month (that’s the time he has taken off his City Car Club job) via Paris, Milan, Czech Republic, Slovakia and the Balkans, speeding up towards the end with the help of Russian motorways. Or at least as far as the Fiesta will take him.
“Every time I drive the car I find something else wrong with it. Who knows, maybe I won’t get any further than Paris,” he said on the phone, breaking off from the task of loading the car with food provided by Cafe Kleofas, some clothes, a little money (‘that’s all I have’) and a bunch of mobile phones which may come in handy if he needs to barter his way out of a sticky situation on some distant border.
That’s all part of the great adventure of the Mongol Rally – the rules require a car with a small engine (no more than 1.2 litres), there’s no fixed route and no mechanical back up. If you are thinking, “my goodness that’s a terribly silly idea the Mongol Rally is probably not for you,” says the website. But then the League of Adventurists Mongol Rally launched officially in 2005 “to save the world from boredom” – and this year it aims to reach £1 million raised by members of the team for charities across the world. As the Mongol Rally website explains:
All the teams taking part have to try to raise a minimum amount of money for charity (usually £1000 per team) and thanks to their hard work and clever tricks our target of raising £1 million should be reached this year.
Marcin had wanted to drive an old mini in the Adventurists Africa Rally last year but he was too late applying, “So we thought why don’t we go back to the original idea, we got on the Adventurists waiting list and our chance came up.” With luck he will meet with his brother Bartek on the way – they originally planned to drive together but Bartek’s visas for their chosen route didn’t come in time.
Marcin is hoping that he will make it as far as the rally’s big party in a Czech castle. With Kasia’s help we will keep you posted!
Charities supported by the Adventurists Mongol Rally include Hope and Homes for children in Eastern Europe, Pueblos Unidos for immigrants in Spain, Maiti Nepal rescuing young girls from sex trafficking on the borders of Nepal.