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Wellington lads take on Mongol Rally
The Dominion Post, Wellington  by Andre Chumko
03 Jul 2017
General News - page 5 - 487 words - ID 803634239 - Photo: Yes - Type: News Item - Size: 457.00cm2

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Twenty-thousand kilometres, eight men, one charity. For Wellingtonians Harry Cunningham, Richard Parsonson and Sam Anastasiou, this will soon be their reality.

The trio, along with five others, are one group taking on this year's Mongol Rally, a 21/2-month adventure race spanning 25 countries across Europe and Asia from mid-July to late September.

They are undertaking the challenge to raise money and awareness for the Graeme Dingle Foundation, which aims to develop confidence in Kiwi kids aged 5 to 18 through programmes involving the great outdoors.

Cunningham, a bank worker, says they will drive the journey from Britain to Ulan-Ude in Siberia, in two Ford Fiestas, bought for 350 ($620) and 400 ($710) respectively.

"Roy [McKee] knows nothing about cars and we sent him to buy cars and I think he basically looked at it in 10 seconds and was like, 'That's good'.

"The steering is buggered in one of them already."

He says planning has been hectic. "We'd have weekly or biweekly Skype calls and they would be from at least four countries. I think at the peak we had Poland, China, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore. Thankfully, the New Zealand majority got to set the times."

Anastasiou, a lawyer, says the challenge began as a "bit of a pipedream". "We all finished university and we're all looking for the next adventure."

The group have named themselves the Coddiwomples, after a slang word meaning "to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination".

Parsonson, who works in marketing, says they will be taking about 10 kilograms of baggage each and their route is flexible. "Some teams just blitz across Russia and that's it, but we're like if you've gone to the trouble of getting the whole way to Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan is just there, why wouldn't you?" The group worked fulltime for 18 months in the lead-up to the journey, saving for flights, vehicles, visas and equipment.

Anastasiou says the Graeme Dingle Foundation was a natural fit. "So many of these programmes they run are focused around things like building resilience, learning through experience, working as a team, all that kind of thing. It just perfectly fit with pushing yourself out of your comfort zone."

Cunningham says the first time the group will be in the same room together will be the day before they depart in Chichester, England.

"The way I envision it is we'll all be round this big table at a pub and we'll get this map out and be like right, where are we actually going?" The details See the group's Facebook page to follow their progress.

@coddiwomples To donate, visit: fundraiser/gdf-coddiwomples

Caption Text:
The Coddiwomples will tackle the rally in highly inappropriate Ford Fiestas.
From left, Harry Cunningham, Richard Parsonson and Sam Anastasiou are about to head off on the Mongal Rally race, a 21/2-month adventure race across Europe and Asia. Their team's name: the Coddiwomples. PHOTO: ANDRE CHUMKO

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