Mongol Rally raising funds for stem4

Potholes, fifty degree heat, and no air-con: Twickenham man drives to Russia raising more than £7,000 for charity

By Amy Price
September 19 2019, 19.45

A Twickenham man who raised £7,250 for mental health charity Stem4 has spoken about the challenges of driving through countries such as Iran and Mongolia.

Joe Hellman, 21, was a member of The World’s Longest Pug Crawl, one of 289 teams to participate in the Mongol Rally.

The annual 10,000-mile driving challenge, which starts in the Czech Republic and ends in Russia, has no rules other than the car must be a ‘rolling turd’ and the teams must raise at least £1,000 for charity.

Starting in Prague, the team took the longer ‘southern route’ through places like Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to finish at Ulan-Ude.

Joe said: “We got varied responses about the rally, from jealousy to people thinking we were mad.

“However, everyone was interested in the trip.

“The biggest challenge we faced was the heat through Turkey and Iran.

“Our car didn’t have air conditioning and one day in the Iranian desert it reached 50 degrees Celsius, which was almost unbearable.

“Following the heat of Iran, we entered the Stans where the potholed and cracked roads quickly wreaked havoc with the car.

“The car became worse and worse until eventually, 500km from the finish line, the engine broke off its mounts, which was a very unfixable problem, leading to us getting towed over the Mongolian border.”

Joe and teammate Harry Storer, 20, paid around £5,000 each over the course of the adventure on repairs and other expenses.

This has not put Joe off doing another rally in South America one day, saying that driving by car allowed him to see parts of the country most would never see.

He said: “What made it a great experience was the people we met along the way and seeing the gradual cultural changes happening the further we got from home.

“The people and culture from Iran onwards were so interesting for me as I hadn’t experienced generosity and warmth like the Iranian people before.

“We were handed gifts through the car window by other people in cars whilst going 60mph on the motor way!”

He added: “I am really appreciating the little things now that I am home, particularly the lack of potholes on the roads!”

Further information on the Mongol Rally can be found on the website.

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