As the 47 participants of the Classic Run Rickshaw Challenge make their way through Tamil Nadu, India, the setting is quite different for the intrepid teams of the Budapest Chernobyl Run, who are travelling through 40 degree Fahrenheit weather in a variety of participant-chosen vehicles.
Only four of the six teams competing in the Budapest Chernobyl Run, which officially started on December 29th, left Budapest on time. The 3,500 kilometer route through Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and the Ukraine is routed to take nine days, so organizers were hopeful that the 2 teams stuck in Budapest would catch up. Eight of the ten participants competing are previous CEMS adventurers, having competed in the Caucasian Challenge in years before.
Despite lacking a GPS unit, the Polish-Hungarian team of Atomic Seicento won the first leg of the Budapest Chernobyl Run with their Polish Fiat, arriving to the destination point on time with seven points earned from their daily challenges. Though other teams accumulated more points in their daily challenges, those points were not counted as the teams did not arrive to the “flag down” point on time.
On December 30th, the group made their way into Romania, arriving in Gheorgheni. The Beer Team was the first to arrive followed by the leading team Atomic Seicento, who were also the only 2 teams to complete the evening challenges. After a filling dinner and some homemade palinka, the teams prepared for their journey to Szeckler’s Land in Transylvania. The German team of Triple Bottom Line earned 50 points from the organizers for a fantastic attitude and spirit of adventure.
Szeckler’s Land was the site of the Budapest Chernobyl Run’s New Year’s Eve party! The Beer Team had much to celebrate as they overtook the Atomic Seicento team in points and became the current event leader. By 10 pm, one of the two late-departing teams, G. Roby, arrived from Budapest. The New Year’s celebration was celebrated three times for each of the appropriate time zones- local Romanian, Greenwich Mean Time, and Central European Time. The Hungarian, Szekler, German, Polish, and British anthems were all sung.
In the coming days, the teams will continue to compete against each other by earning points on their daily and nightly challenges, which range from geocaching explorations and photo captures to local research and enlightenment. As they depart the region of Transylvania, Romania, the Budapest Chernobyl Run crew will be making their way toward Moldova and the disputed region of Transnistria, then into Ukraine and the site of the Chernobyl disaster.
The current leaders, Beer Team and Atomic Seicento are in a close race, but it’s still early. With strategy and determination, it could still be anyone’s race.
Meanwhile, in Tamil Nadu, India, the 47 participants of the fourth annual Classic Run Rickshaw Challenge are making their way from Pondicherry toThanjuvar. After experiencing inevitable breakdowns in autorickshaws, each of the participants (representing 11 countries) will work to perfect their autorickshaw driving skills and competition strategies. Just under 1,000 kilometers are still ahead for this herd of travelers as they will soon head into Madurai, Rameswaram, Tuticorin, Courtallam, and finally land in Kanniyakumari on December 8th.