Today would be the last early morning of the trip. We got up a little after 7, prayed the cars would start, and then headed to the finish line which was about 3 hours away.
I spent the first half of the drive thinking about the journey and what I would write to my friends and family on Facebook. I’ll admit that I was fighting back tearing up at the thought of getting there and how much the trip had meant. The guys let me take over for the last leg of the drive so that I could be the one to drive to the finish. Very cool.
For being in the middle of absolutely nowhere Ulan-Ude is a surprisingly big city. It took a while to wind through the city and then all of a sudden we pulled into a big open courtyard and there it was.
We waited our turn to drive up on to the stage and get some incredibly awesome pictures taken. After all we’d been through, after all the car had been through. I’m still a little shocked that the Doblo pulled it off. We had cursed it a million times and we couldn’t be ready to be done with it. To it’s credit though that stupid car made it. We limped to the finish line, but we still made it.
There was a ton of paperwork to fill out, including writing our team info on a big board of everyone else who had made it. 45 days later. Out of around 300 teams we finished #108 I believe. As you can imagine we took a ton of pictures, and got a lot with our convoy mates. We have all been together since Turkmenistan.
After that it was up to us to do with all our stuff. We sorted through everything we had looking for any souvenirs. Anything that was still in good condition we added to the donation pile. Mitch decided to take quite a big souvenir for himself, which he managed to do with an axe.
We all booked a room at a hotel a few miles from the finish line, aaaaaaand then we started drinking and didn’t stop.
For those interested here’s my finish line FB post:
“This is a little surreal. After a year of planning and 7 weeks on the road here we are at the finish line of something I never thought I’d be able to do. The Mongol Rally has probably been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s been mentally exhausting, physically grueling, frustrating, and stressful. There were a lot of points where we could have given up. Our car is a 13 year old Italian car that has no business being where we’ve taken it. Our engine blew up, our fuel pump is patched together with bailing wire and glue, all of the suspension is gone. We’ve been stranded in some of the most desolate places I’ve ever been. But we didn’t give up.
It’s also been an incredible and once in a lifetime experience that’s taken me through places I’d never see otherwise. We’ve met so many wonderful and hilarious people along the way and made some great friends. This picture is 100% worth the trouble it took to get here.
Understandably there was a lot of concern for our safety and well being traveling through 20 countries. One of the things I wanted to prove to myself and everyone else is that the world isn’t as scary as we sometimes think it is. There hasn’t been a moment over the last 7 weeks that I’ve felt threatened in any way.
While there is a small fraction that try to make it seem otherwise, this world of ours is absolutely full of good people. The amount of kindness and hospitality we’ve received from strangers is indescribable and unrepayable. We made it to the end in large part due to help from people who don’t speak our language and will never see again, who didn’t have to but many times went out of their way to help us. There hasn’t been any point where our nationality has been an issue. Whether it was the hundreds of honks and waves we got or sharing vodka with Russian border guards (one of whom may or not be in the mob, gave me his #, an open invitation to stay at his home and said he’d beat up anyone who gave us any trouble in Russia – thanks Stas!) most people don’t give a fuck about geopolitics and are just very appreciative that we came to visit their country. They were great representatives of theirs and we’ve done our best to be good unofficial ambassadors for America.
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank my teammates Ryan Goodman and Mitch Walker for going on this crazy adventure. Thank you Rachel for being supportive of this dream of mine, being ok with me being away for 7 weeks. Thank you Robby and Nate for taking care of the office. Thank you to our friends and family for your generous donations to us and our charity. Thank you to our sponsors for helping make the trip a little easier. To a far lesser degree thanks to the cop in Kazakhstan who let me talk him out of a ticket, we all know not having your headlights on at 11 am is a stupid law. Last not least, thank you Doblo for letting us beat you up.
So be nice to people. Be even nicer to strangers. And always bring a towel.”