‘Minor Catastrophes’ As Most Teams Spread Through Central Asia
On July 23rd approximately 288 vehicle teams carrying 758 passengers crossed the starting line in Prague, Czech Republic. This was the day after a launch party of much revelry and drunkeness. The competing teams ventured out on a journey of discovery and certain misadventure.
The Mongol Rally has a Garmin powered map page showing the paths of many, but not all, of the teams. All but 4 teams chose to weave paths throughout the more southern realms of Eastern Europe.
A cluster of events seemed to happen in Romania with a bear sighting, the drama of crossing the Transfagarasan Mountains and a Black Sea beach party.
All teams had made it out of Europe by the end of July with exception of Chasing Ghengis Yarn (Australia) who were apparently still "basking in the sun in Croatia."
This bulk of southeastern Europe teams had no other choice but to funnel through the Bosporus and Istanbul. After that, however, many spread from the main route, all directions through Turkey and with some passing through Armenia and Iran.
Four teams seemed to make the ferry across the Caspian Sea: The Ladybirds (Danish all woman team), Los Bad Hombres (Mexico-Spain), Mogluicous Timber Twats (UK-Germany) and No Prob-Llama (USA-Finland), but there seemed to be a mass of many teams now in and around Baku, Azerbaijan and it could be they are waiting for the ferry.
The previously mentioned 4 'more northern' teams instead headed through Poland and eastward. A team called 'Holland's Next Top Model 5' (Netherlands-Botswana) ventured out across Ukraine, southern Russia, and Kazakhstan but then back around south to Turkmenistan.
The remaining 'north 3' appear to be in the lead. They went even further north into Russia, the Ural Mountains and into Siberia. Perhaps this northern route is faster, but who is having more fun, right? These three northern teams are teams Don't Panic (UK) with the apparent lead, U-Lunn-Bataar (UK All-Women Team), and Crazy Cows (France).
The furthest of the southern reaches of teams seem to have converged on the city of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan at the time of press. These are the three teams that made it across the Caspian (mentioned above) plus Team Mongo Trolley (Norway) which came up from Iran and the previously mentioned Holland's Next Top Model 5. Just today, Mogluicous Timber Twatts and Los Bad Hombres headed north out of Ashgabat across the barren desert bound for Uzbekistan.
As the news was reported for the first week, there was a whole host of breakdowns. Maybe the biggest misadventure so far was that Team Hillbilly Hotties was detained in a Russian prison for 26 hours because they were carrying codeine across the border.
Please note that there are other teams that were not represented by the map.