Off to Mongolia or bust

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Three intrepid Queenstowners have signed up for one of the world’s toughest road trips. 

Siblings Carmen and Marc Doran and pal Brent Clements are soon to embark on the dangerous Mongol Rally – an internationally-renowned fundraising event that’ll take them across 22 countries in six weeks. 

Starting from Goodwood, south of London, they’ll travel 20,000km – “one third of the earth’s surface” – to Mongolia. 

On the way, they’ll pass through France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakian Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Russia. 

And it’ll all be done in a tiny, one-litre car with maps and a compass – no global positioning technology is allowed. 

While on the road, the trio expects mechanical breakdowns, extreme temperatures and language barriers. 

They could also face two-day border delays and political conflict – not to mention police bribery and corruption. 

Marc Doran, 24, and Clements, 25, got some practice in when they drove to the Catlins in South Otago last month. Instead of taking main roads – normally a 3.5-hour drive – they crossed several of Central Otago’s four-wheel drive tracks. 

“The problem was that the map we were using had more roads on than what the countryside had,” Marc says.
“We ended up getting lost.” 

Clements adds: “We were driving round and round in circles looking for a hut that never existed so we ended up sleeping in the car.” 

It’s the thrill of the adventure to Mongolia that appeals to the threesome. 

“If we get lost we’ll classify it as sightseeing,” Marc says. 

“If you don’t have a story to tell at the end of it, what’s the point in going?” 

Carmen, 28, adds: “They’re not just countries you pack up and go on holiday to … it’s really a once-in-a-lifetime experience.” 

Marc, a former go-kart and motorsport racer, flies to London next month to buy a car before they set off on July 24. 

Their vehicle will be based around the theme of cult 1981 Kiwi movie Goodbye Pork Pie – a caper about a couple travelling the length of New Zealand in a yellow Mini. 

The annual Mongol Rally, limited to 400 entries, is a major fundraiser for several Mongolian charities. The Queenstown trio has chosen the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, which builds orphanages to protect Mongolian kids from prostitution and drugs. 

They need to raise at least $2200 for the charity and are looking for sponsorship – several local businesses have already jumped on board. 

They’re holding a Goodbye Pork Pie movie night at Winnies on May 10 – tickets, $10 each, go on sale this week.