Many people around the world are familiar with the ‘Paris – Dakar’ road rally, The Dakar, where participants raced ‘off-road’ from Paris to Dakar, Senegal. Security concerns have forced the moving of the rally to South America in 2009. Stepping into the top spot for largest amateur rally in the world is now held by the Hungarian conceived ‘Budapest – Bamako’ rally, or Great African Run.
Run since 2005, and under constant threat of cancellation due to security and health concerns, the race is the ‘brainchild’ of Hungarian shock DJ Géza Villám who was looking for a cheaper alternative to restrictive Dakar. Under the guiding principle of “Anyone, By Anything, In Any Way” there are no restrictions on who, or what type of vehicle,m can enter – as long as they are street legal. Lacking road restrictions or set routes drivers are free to set their own path to Mali and only they, not necessarily their vehicles, need to reach the finish line to complete the race.
The rally is not all about racing and getting across the desert first, it has also become the largest charity rally in the world. In 2011 Junior Chamber International, JCI, delivered over 10,000 mosquito nets to a part of the world which sees 800,000 children die each year from malaria. These nets were purchased by JCI after running a global fundraising campaign to buy them at $10 a piece. One of the drivers dressed as a giant mosquito. Other racers have spent time digging wells and building schools in West Africa to help improve lives in villages.
So why are we discussing a road race in our monthly newsletter? This year FirsMed is sponsoring our first participant in the rally, Frenchman and Budapest resident, Rapheal de Colnet. He’ll be in the riding group atop his vintage YAMAHA XT 500 motorbike, restored to racing condition. On his journey he will be joined by his very own mascot, a mini version of FirstMedve, to help him keep company for the ride. We are sure the two of them will have a grand adventure. Follow us on Facebook and we’ll be able to keep you abreast of their journey to Bamako.
The rally starts officially this Friday, kicking off from Hero’s square, but due to possible unforeseen weather issues bikers will join up in Genoa as teams leave the continent. We hope, wifi permitting, to start with our race updates during the week of the 17th. Let’s all wish Raphael and the rest of the racers a safe journey.