The motoring marathon has always held an appeal to me â€“ travelling far and wide, seeing new things, meeting interesting people. The downside is that you have to be extremely rich, talented or have lots of spare time on your hands. As I cannot enjoy any of these luxuries, the dream became a pipedream at an early age, as I accepted that transcontinental marathons were not for me.
Happily, it seems that there are many others out there that share the same sentiments as me. The first and most widely known ‘marathons for the common man’ is the Plymouth-Dakar challenge, which encompasses a month away from home, crossing Europe and Northern Africa. And joy of joys â€“ it had to be undertaken in a car that costs no more than Â£100. Now that was a budget that www.austin-rover.co.uk could run to, if it looked down the back of the settee for spare change. For sure, this is a trip of a lifetime, and when the organizer, Julian Nowell, got in touch with me late last year to invite me to join for 2004, I deliberated for a long timeâ€¦
The deliberation ended on the back of not getting time away from the office, and the difficulty in finding a co-driver.
That did not stop me wanting to do itâ€¦ not for one moment. Sadly, real life got in the way, though and that I thought, was that. I didnâ€™t count on the Staples2Naples challenge though. According to its website, the event was organised for exactly the reasons I had forsaken Plymouth-Dakar: â€œStaples2Naples is the banger rally for wages slavesâ€¦ S2N was an idea conceived to address the problem in the amount of time people have to spare. A Banger rally is great fun, but many people are unable to take 3 weeks out of their lives to do this. Either work or home commitments make this impossible.â€
That was it! Eureka! I could enter this one, and still get home in time for teaâ€¦
UPDATES: How the adventure unfolded