36 hours. No money. Get as far away from Southampton as you possibly can.
This was the challenge facing the teams participating in RAG’s charity ‘Jailbreak’, the hitchhiking competition which has seen students from numerous universities travel across the globe without spending a penny. Participants must blag their way to free lifts, train tickets and even free flights in their bid to flee as many miles as possible before the 36 hours are up. All the money raised goes to their selected charity.
Back in April, 15 plucky teams left Southampton at a 10am start. They had until 10pm the next day to compete for the furthest destination and in turn raise funds for Support for International Change (SIC), an HIV and AIDs charity that works directly with rural communities in Tanzania.
While one team didn’t make it beyond Cambridge, the winning team ‘Around the World in 1.5 Days’ beat others past Brussels and Frankfurt to as far as Wroclaw, Poland. Two-man team Josh Gaunt and Alexander Hewitt clocked an impressive 800 miles.
Though hitchhiking to Poland is by no means a small feat, there are tales of some even more extraordinary adventures had by previous Jailbreak competitors. Here are the Wessex Scene’s top five most exciting Jailbreaks:
5. Bangkok, Thailand – 5, 983 miles
Warwick students Tanaya Bharatan, Surabhie Chadha and Akshay Bhatiahad had additional constraints, because as international students they were limited to countries offering immediate visas. However, they were extremely lucky in gaining last-minute sponsorship from Griffin Marine Travel, from who they obtained airline tickets to Bangkok via New Delhi.
4. San Diego – 5,500 miles
Alice Wainwright and Sarah Malik rang The Guardian in their bid to get as far away from the “mock” Cambridge jail as possible. While the travel editor was unable to secure them flights to New Zealand at such short notice, she used her industry contacts to book imminent flights from Heathrow to San Diego. They got there hours before the short time limit, so they made the most of their remaining stay in blagging a free hotel, food and shopping. Unfortunately they didn’t win the challenge, as another Cambridge team reached Buenos Aires.
3. Perth, Australia – 9, 113 miles
Determined Bristol students emailed 15 airlines to try and get tickets, but were more successful once they managed to get the email address of Tony Fernandes (owner of AirAsia) and asked him if he could help them out. Thanks to sponsorship from Air Asia, Heathrow Express and Skybus, Emma Blott and Mary Spender managed to reach the other side of the world without spending any money at all.
2. Washington, USA – 3, 675 miles
Although not one of the farthest-reached destinations in the competition, the 2010 Cambridge winners cleverly blagged their way to the US by performing a series of magic tricks. Dressed in tuxedos, Nick Millet and Reza Khorasanee raised enough money through entertaining, chance connections and solving a rubix cube in under 40 seconds to fund their $700 return tickets to New York. From here, they got a coach to Washington and arrived just before the 36 hours were up.
1. Sydney, Australia – 10, 490 miles
Tom Cox and Dave Binns also used their powers of persuasion to secure their victory. The Durham university winners have Virgin boss billionaire Richard Branson to thank for their Jailbreak world record. Tom managed to somehow correctly guess Sir Richard’s email address and persuade him to donate free flights. Two days later the pair was having their picture taken by Sydney Harbour. Their unrivalled efforts raised over 2,500 pounds.
2011 is the first year that Southampton has run a Jailbreak on such a big scale, but its organisers Hive Southampton hope to make it an annual event. People interested in participating in the event themselves and beating the current record of Poland can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information about SIC visit www.sichange.org