From Hitchin to Siberia: Couple’s epic Mongol Rally charity drive

PUBLISHED: 11:56 01 July 2018

Thom Clarke and Wing Yee Lam with their ride for the drive to Ulan-Ude. Picture: Thom Clarke

Thom Clarke and Wing Yee Lam with their ride for the drive to Ulan-Ude. Picture: Thom Clarke

Archant

An adventurous Hitchin couple are going to spend their summer driving to Siberia for charity.

Thom Clark, 34, and 31-year-old Winnie Lam are taking part in the Mongol Rally – an epic journey from the Czech Republic to Ulan-Ude in eastern Russia.

The pair, who have adopted the name Team Khane Diem, will set off from Hitchin on July 13 ahead of the rally start 30 miles west of Prague on July 16. They aim to get to Ulan-Ude around the time of the August bank holiday.

Thom and Winnie will drive about 10,000 miles to Ulan-Ade via the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Mongolia and Russia again.

They’ll then drive back 5,000 through Russia to Latvia, and through northern Europe to England.

“The things I’m most looking forward to are the Gateway to Hell in Turkmenistan and the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, which takes you along the border of Afghanistan,” said Thom.

“The rally has no set route or set finish time. There are three rules – your car must be under one litre, you have to raise money for charity, and you’re on your own. The rally organisers offer no support, so it is down to ralliers to get to Ulan-Ude by themselves or by helping each other.”

Thom and Winnie will drive a 1995 Daihatsu Hijet, known as a ‘Minibago’ – similar to one Thom’s late dad used to have.

“I’ve spent the last few months converting it into a ‘micro camper’ so we can use it as our accommodation for the majority of the time,” he said.

The van cost £400 from eBay, and Thom and Winnie have spent another £800 to ensure it gets through the 15,000-mile round trip. The front seats reverse to create a sitting area, and the back seats collapse to make a bed.

Thom and Winnie will be raising funds for the rally organisers’ chosen charity The Cool Earth, which protects endangered rainforest, and their own charity of choirse Afasic – which supports children and young people with speech and language impairments.

Thom’s past exploits include charity bike rides from Letchworth to Alicante in 2012, and Istanbul to Hitchin in 2015. Winnie’s past adventures have taken her across the Trans-Siberian Railway and to Morocco.

You can follow their progress and donate to their fundraising at khanediem.com.

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