A Sit Down With The ‘Sussex Rum Runners’

You may have seen our recent activity around Seaspace’s latest sponsorship venture; we’re backing Alec and Steve as they take on the Mongol Rally 2015. Recently, we got the guys to come in and talk about all their plans for this crazy adventure. After the tea was brewed and we were all settled down, here’s what happened…

Seaspace Mongol Rally Interview

Alec & Steve popped in to chat about their antics.

So, tell us a little bit about yourselves!

Alec: We’re both from West Sussex; I work in central London as a paramedic for the ambulance service…
Steve:… and I run a warranty company in Chichester.
Alec: We met over ten years ago now, randomly in Thailand. I was on a gap year, Steve on his travels around the world…
Steve:…I like to think that was my Uni experience, education around the world.
Alec: I saw this guy sitting in Reebok classics, recognised that he was probably British and went over for a chat. We realised we only lived a few miles from each other and had quite a few mutual friends. From there we lived in Sydney together for a bit, and since we’ve been back we’ve been doing trips every year!
Steve: I like to say we’ve been unintentionally training for this mission since we met through various road trips. [both laugh]

For those who don’t know, what is the ‘Mongol Rally’, and why have you decided to do it?

Alec: It’s an annual charity event run by The Adventurists. The three rules pretty much sum up just how crazy it is: Number one; get a car off your Nan or the equivalent – small and crappy is the phrase they use. Secondly; raise a minimum of £1,000. And third; you have to drive all the way to Mongolia without GPS.
Steve: The idea is to make it as difficult as possible, and as we’ve got a 1.2 litre instead of a 1litre, we have to add a comedy aspect… so we’ve gone for a pirate theme!
Alec: This year they’ve cracked down to stop people using 4×4’s, but we reckon that 0.2litres extra is really going to have us waving goodbye to the more feeble cars [laughs].

Steve: We’ve kind of got me to blame for it. I’ve always wanted to do a big challenge like this, and came across a video on YouTube at one in the morning – as you do – of the Mongol Rally. I ended up watching a three hour documentary and thought ‘this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen’… I became a bit obsessed with it and approached Alec.
Alec: I was initially a bit sceptical, wondering if it’s something we could pull off. Believe it or not we’re both 30 this year so we decided to do it as a bit of a send off for that milestone.
Steve: We actually climbed Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, to have our ‘business meeting’ about the Rally. That’s where we properly decided to go for it.
Alec: There will be absolutely no support teams, no GPS and no help. We’ve decided to make it more of an adventure – and evidently harder for us – by taking the Southern route, making our way past places such as Syria and Afghanistan.
Steve: We’ll be setting off on the 19th of July, and we’re looking to cover the whole 10,000 miles in about 5 weeks.

Tell us a bit about the car…

Steve: Nissan Yeomans have kindly donated a bright yellow Nissan Micra to us for the rally. They actually told the previous owners that their old family car is going to be destroyed around the world and they think it’s fabulous!
Alec: Originally we were going for MIND over Matter as a team name, but we’ve decided on Sussex Rum Runners. Seeing as a lot of our sponsors are from the local community, we themed the car around the fact that West Sussex has a history of being smugglers.
Steve: The car will be decorated with logos from all of our sponsors, so you’ll be able to see Seaspace International across the side of the car as we travel to Mongolia.
Alec: We’re looking to put a canon and birds nest on the car, ship-style. We’re really going to look strange to the locals!

What’s your biggest fear in the run up to the rally?

{nervous laughter}
Steve: “At the moment the whole car situation is a bit of a fear. The car is being fitted out at the moment, things like the suspension are being fixed. All this is great but it’s taking ages, and they’re not super confident that the car is going to be great.”
Alec: “We’ve been to see it a couple of times recently and the underneath really wasn’t in a good state. It looks like a patchwork quilt. They’re really keeping us on tenterhooks with this one.”

That sounds a bit like a TV show, we can just imagine the voice over now…

Alec: Actually, we’re both amateur film makers so we’ve got GoPro’s, a drone and some camera’s to start vlogging the whole experience. We’re making an episodic type documentary, but we should probably start filming before we get the car seeing as lots is beginning to happen!

Have you got any idea about how much this is costing?

Steve: “You have to raise £1,000 for charity which we’ve already smashed so thats fine, as Alec said you have to put down £1,000 deposit for the car to come back safely, which is about how much it will cost to ship it back so that’s that. Estimates on fuel will range from £800 to £1,500. And the VISA’s are quite expensive. You know it’s quite a bit but we decided to do a Kickstarter campaign which our sponsors such as Seaspace have got involved in, which helps us to fund the journey.”

Which charity are you supporting, and why?

Alec: “We chose MIND, the mental health charity, which is close to both of us, especially through my work as a paramedic. Steve was saying on the way up here that a lot of people have got on board with us because of the charity that we have chosen to sponsor.”
Steve: “A lot of friends, family and people we don’t know have come forward and thanked us for supporting a charity such as MIND. People have let us know that it really means a lot to them.”
Alec: MIND have been really good, sending us some t-shirts and supporting us which is great. They’re happy we’ve got behind them for such a big yearly event.”

What events are you doing in the run up to the Mongol Rally?

Alec: “We’re hoping to take the car to Glastonbury, and I gather that MIND must have a stand there so we’re hoping to get some photos with them if we get it sorted in time.”
Steve: “We got a clothing company Strong Island to get involved recently, they’ve given us a load of stickers to put in random places along the way and take pictures of, which is going to be fun. The plan is to get shots of all the sponsors’ logos in cool places along the way.”

Seaspace are looking forward to following these two on their journey from the UK to Mongolia. Make sure to donate to their chosen charity MIND, the mental health charity, on their just giving page. If you want to keep up with the latest news, follow us on Facebook and keep an eye out for a pirate themed, Seaspace logo covered Yellow Micra!

Posted in BLOG, Mongol Rally 2015.