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Although a definite

setback, this part of the trip

was also a turning point for

Manente and her team. “We

all worked together to push

the cars out. At one point,

I just started laughing to

myself. ‘This is ridiculous.

I have a chest cold in the

middle of nowhere-Mongolia,

we’re lost in the Gobi Desert,

and I’m pushing a car out of

the sand in a valley. What is

my life?’ We ended up finding

the road a few hours later and

didn’t get lost again.”

Although Manente admits

becoming frustrated often

while in Mongolia, she

said giving up was never

an option. “Even when my

morale was at its lowest and

I was cranky and annoyed

and feeling awful, we had to

finish. Not finishing wasn’t

even in my mind. I wanted

to do this for three years. I

planned the majority of it. We

were going to finish. End of


And the trip was for

charity — the Mongol Rally

is literally about “Saving

the World.” They ask every

team to raise a minimum

of £1,000, at least £500 of

which goes to their official

cause, Cool Earth, an

environmental charity that

works in partnership with

indigenous communities

to protect rainforests that,

without intervention, are

scheduled to be destroyed

within the next 18 months.

“I literally googled adventure

travel one day and the rally

popped up,” said Manente. “It

looked hilariously dangerous

and something I wouldn’t

forget anytime soon. That was

around three years ago. This

was the first year everything

lined up and I went for it.”

The Mongol Rally states

that “you can get to Ulan

Ude however you want.” The

entire rally was tackled in a

’94 Vauxhall Corsa, which

had no business making it to

the finish line. “It was a beast

of a little car,” said Manente.

“We called him ‘Eddy.’ He was

our home for those four and

a half weeks and something

we could always rely on.

Through border crossings,

rivers, rocks, sand, mud and

who knows what else, he was

our rock. Whenever we spent

more than a day somewhere,

getting back into Eddy was

like going home.”

Manente knew one person on her

Rally team, but their other two

passengers were complete strangers.

“Sora has been a good friend of mine

for a few years and she said she

wanted to travel more, so I convinced

her to jump into the deep end,” said

Manente. “Scott and Maartje are both

‘professional travelers’… we literally all

met two days before hitting the road.”