A Los Altos Hills native plans to embark on a 10,000-mile drive from London to Mongolia in the 13th annual Mongol Rally, set to start next week.
First-time participant Lawrence Jau said the rally is an opportunity to “start trying to live life a little more in the moment and appreciate what I have – and really not fear the unknown.
The 2010 graduate of Gunn High School called the event a “crazy charity challenge.”
More than 250 teams start in London, then go their separate ways across more than 20 countries to reach Mongolia, driving what Jau said are small and unreliable cars. The rally, which takes six to eight weeks, has been deemed so challenging that only approximately one-third of participants reach the finish line, according to Jau. Before they take off, teams must raise at least $15,000 to donate to a charity of their choice and to the Mongol Rally-supported Cool Earth, which aids in combating rainforest destruction.
Jau quit his job at LinkedIn Corp. to pursue his longtime goal of participating in the Mongol Rally. Previous trips to Italy, Mexico and Singapore for study-abroad programs and work opportunities sparked his interest in the event.
“There are a lot of small experiences – big and small, far and wide – which led up to the decision to do the Mongol Rally,” he said. “Specifically, going abroad has really brought me outside my experiences growing up here in Los Altos. This is a fantastic town – a bubble, a great bubble. I love coming back to it, but an opportunity to leave it has really given me learning and growth experience.”
Jau won’t be experiencing the rally alone. His team includes two friends he met while attending the University of Michigan – John Anderton and Barbaros Serter. In honor of being Michigan alumni, they have named their team “MGol Blue.”
“I think we’re hopefully trying to set an example to chase our dreams for a good cause, and every dollar helps showcase that message even stronger to our extended and close networks,” Jau said.
Jau’s team set a goal of raising $20,000 to donate to the National Geographic Society and Cool Earth. They chose the National Geographic Society as their primary charity because “the most important issue is still around our planet, and I think the National Geographic Society really showcases those issues,” Jau said.
A focal point of the Mongol Rally is the car and how it is decorated. MGol Blue’s car, a Nissan Micra, will feature logos from the team’s corporate sponsors, including Sertplas, Hermes-Epitek Group, WaterField Designs, Mafia Bags and Laughing Monk Brewing.
“One thing is that we have a lot of corporate sponsorships, so we will have logos of companies that we will put on the car,” Jau said. “But for fun, we are thinking of ideas. We might turn our car into a watermelon decal, maybe build a funny sculpture on top.”
With the start date approaching, Jau and his team have been preparing by launching a webpage to raise money, updating passports, finalizing their route and gathering camping supplies.
“During the race, I am most looking forward to taking in all the mishaps and challenges and breakdowns that are going to happen,” Jau said. “I know there’s going to be a lot of difficult, challenging times, but I think it is all part of a fun, exciting experience. At the end of the day, it is a very exciting cause and personal growth opportunity, and we’re really hoping that we can spread the message and the word and get people to step outside their comfort zones and catch that thing they want to do.”
To donate and for more information, visit mgolblue.org.