Leith bartender prepares to undertake gruelling Mongol Rally

Ben Crozier. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Ben Crozier. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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IT is a journey that will force them to take on 12,000 miles of the most dangerous road conditions in the world and travel across countries divided by decades of political turmoil – all in a vehicle no larger than an average hatchback.

However, for bartender Ben Crozier, the prospect of adventure in far flung corners of the globe is too difficult to resist.

Leith resident Ben, 29, will be part of a four-person team taking on the mammoth Mongol Rally challenge between July and September in an effort to raise money for a leading kidney disease charity.

The intercontinental car “race” challenges competitors to drive from the start line in Prague to Ulan Ude, on the Russian-Mongolian border, in vehicles with a maximum engine size of 1200cc.

Entry rules for the rally state all teams must be raising money for a “non-profit organisation” to take part, however the route and mode of transportation is left up to the drivers.

Ben, who works in the Boozy Cow bar on Frederick Street, will team up with friends Amy Hayhurst and Antony and Nick Scott to take on the challenge under the name Team MAGA, or Making Adventures Glorious and Absurd.

He said the group’s “love of adventure” drove them to the start line, adding: “The whole point of the rally is to break down, to be in situations you wouldn’t normally face, in places you wouldn’t normally visit, that’s all part of it.”

He continued: “None of us have a mechanical background, we have an accountant, a bartender, a scuba diving instructor and a teacher, but because we are so close, it is going to make it mean that much more.”

The team’s route winds through 19 different countries across Europe and Asia, including Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, before their scheduled arrival in Ulan Ude in mid-September.

Ben said: “In the south of Tajikistan, there is a road called the Anzob Tunnel – it is only about three miles long, but you are effectively going underground and the road is completely covered in potholes, some of which are around two or three feet wide. There is also almost no lighting and very little ventilation, so things like that, those are the most dangerous aspects.

“We are travelling across some countries where they have been in political strife for years, where they can be a bit hesitant to let visitors across the border between some places. But it is all part of the adventure, you are doing something totally different from anything else out there.

Rally competitors must donate a percentage of their fundraising to the Cool Earth organisation, working to protect the world’s rainforests and indigenous people. But Ben said the Kidney Research UK charity was a personal choice after brothers Antony and Nick’s father Chris passed away from kidney disease last year.

Tracey Murray, Head of Events at Kidney Research UK said: “We are delighted Team Maga is taking on the Mongol Rally to raise money for kidney research.”