WHILE most young lads are planning a regular summer holiday to a sunshine resort, east cork pals, Aaron McEvoy and Killian O’Brien are going on a trip of a lifetime.
The 23-year-old ‘Adventurtists’ journey, the Mongol Rally, is an 18,000 km, 6-week journey across 17 countries, including unforgiving deserts and perilous mountain ranges.
Aaron and Killian, taking off from Midelton in their 1999 Mazda Demio on Thursday, July 12, are doing the challenge in aid of Pieta House.
“Our aim is to raise funds for Pieta House,” says Aaron.
The boys, both mechanics and rally drivers, came up the idea of taking part in the marathon car rally two years ago. There is no set route, no backup or no support. You are on your own with just your fellow adventurists.
“We said we’d do it this year,” says Aaron. “And Pieta House is a good cause.
“We’ve been planning the trip since January. There was a lot of paperwork involved, getting all the necessary visas and passports required for the trip. We had to have clean driving licenses and International driving permits.”
The Mazda Demio is a mighty machine, specifically modified to undertake the elements against the open road. The car can be no more than 1.2 engine power and less than 10-years-old.
“We got her in a scrapyard,” says Aaron. “The car was resurrected on the way to being scrapped. Killian and I re-modelled it. We took out the back seat, put in new flooring and lights. The tyres are commercial van tyres sponsored by Robinson Tyres, Midleton. We are going to be living in the car for the duration of the journey. Spare parts and spare tyres are in the roof box along with the petrol and oil cans, also on the roof.”
What else do the lads need for such a momentous journey?
“We’re bringing a lot of tins of beans!” says Aaron laughing.
“We could go days on the road for miles and miles without coming across a shop. It can get very cold at night in some of the countries, like Armenia and Iran for instance.
“Some nights, we’ll be camping out. So we are packing a tent, blow-up beds and sleeping bags along with a little cooker. If we come across a hostel, we’ll bunk there for the night. Phone and wifi coverage will be dicey. In the back end of nowhere you haven’t a hope in hell of getting coverage.”
Will living in such close proximity to each other pose any obstacles?
“We know each other pretty well,” says Killian.
“The planning of the trip has been full- on for both of us. We aim to cover 300 miles per day and we’ll share the driving every second day from Europe, across Russia to our destination, Mongolia.
Our employers, O’Brien’s Garage, Midleton, and Fitzgerald Commercials, Midleton, have been generous in sponsoring us for the trip, and of course, giving us time off!”
Killian has no qualms about getting lost on non-existent roads, breaking down, or dealing with an over-heated engine on the adventure to previously unknown territory. But there might be one pitfall along the way.
“I’m a fussy eater,” he says smiling.
“I suppose when I come back; I won’t be a fussy eater anymore!” The boys are raring to go.
“We’ll just go for it,” says Killian.
“Yes. We’ll give it hell for leather,” agrees Aaron, whose mother, Catherine, raised 1,700 euro for the lads at a coffee morning she held at her house.
“Aaron is really a home-bird,” says Catherine.
But she is proud of Aaron and Killian, best pals since secondary school, driving 18,000km for a cause close to everyone’s heart?
“I’m very proud of them,” says Catherine. “Very proud indeed.”
Fund-raising and Advocacy Co-ordinator with Pieta House, Angela Horgan, praised Aaron and Killian for their efforts.
“Events like this one promote awareness about mental health, hoping to break down the stigma of suicide and self-harm,” she said.
“Pieta House ensures that anyone who needs help has a place to go. 10% -15% of Government funding is provided, the remaining funds come from the generosity of the Irish public.”