Think your commute sucks? South Florida market analyst Carlos Edde, 25, and graphic design consultant Alex Pretelt, 26, are preparing to driving 10,000 miles from England to Mongolia -- all without a GPS system in a 1.2 liter car. The insane drive is part of the international Mongol Rally, a seriously long distance rally set for this July that the two Miamians have joined in order to raise cash for the Save the Children charity.
Pals since high school at Western High School, the globetrotting duo have been trekking since their college days at FIU and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. This expedition, though, ups the ante.
"We had to give a shot at trying to do it. We were naive to the hard work it involved, but we felt the cause was well worth it," Pretelt says. "The fact that we could help (Save the Children) by doing what we like most, traveling, gave us that drive we needed to start."
The Mongol Rally, which began in 2004, isn't a traditional race -- there's no prize for first-place and organizers discourage participants from speeding along the way. The route from the UK to Mongolia is so treacherous, that finishing alone is noteworthy.
Of the more than 300 teams that enter the Mongol Rally every year, less than ten percent reach the finish line. "This is not an easy journey -- a 1.2 liter car is not the ideal vehicle to go through rivers, mountains and deserts.... but that's what the Mongol Rally is all about," Edde said. "Getting out there and discovering what you are able to do, fixing a car like McGyver - with a pair of used socks, some duck tape a paper clip and two dried apricots."
Edde and Pretelt expect the open drive to take approximately three weeks, though with a pinto-like car, the thought of taking a month to get to Mongolia is not far-fetched. The two have recently been toying with the question of which route to take, because the Mongol Rally leaves it up to each team to decide.
They've reached out to friends on their Facebook fan page and Twitter, asking which countries they feel would be the best or safest to drive through. Either way, a GPS is not allowed on board, so every turn will have to be made with a map and a compass.
They didn't seem to fret over that though.
"Our biggest fear is to not raise the funds we expect, not be able to support Save the Children in the way we set out to do in the first place," Pretelt says, though Edde adds that "We also fear the idea of running out of gas in the middle of a desert in Uzbekistan, running out of food, water or getting arrested by foreign police for unknown reasons."
Both team members speak English and Spanish, and Edde speaks Portuguese -- a multilingual advantage they hope will help along their route to Mongolia.
Pretlelt and Edde have consulted with former Mongol Rally participants and 2012 participants as well - as they've been informed, once the two leave Ukraine (or the European Union), the roads end and the terrain becomes substantially more rugged and dangerous. They'll confront cliffs, winding mountains, rushing rivers, endless deserts, and an infinite list of things that could go wrong.
Nevertheless, they have high hopes to finish, because there is no incentive to arrive first. The challenge is so high and life-threatening as it is, Mongol Rally simply wants participants to arrive - alive. Donations go to charities whether they arrive or not, but the incentive is to finish for the cause.
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"I look forward to not having a plan, to see how things unfold ... and to come back and have a feeling of accomplishment for helping a great cause," Edde says.