Mongolia or bust

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Mongol Rally 2014

Photograph By Levon Biss

With a tagline of "If you're not lost, you need to try harder," the Mongol Rally is less a race than an opportunity to test limits. "Everything has gotten far too safe," says Dan Wedgwood of the Adventurists, a group of Brits that first ran the annual 10,000-mile London-to-Mongolia trek in 2004. "You really can just head out into the world. People don't know this because they don't try." Like most of the racers, Tommaso Piazza of Team Rust&Dust was fired up for the start of the monthlong journey when he left London's Battersea Park on July 20. "We wanted to inhale the culture ... like travelers, not tourists," he said on Aug. 7, after crossing into Tajikistan. Each of the 248 teams needed to donate 1,000 pounds (about $1,680) to enter the race, which raises money for Cool Earth and other charities of each team's choice. That's the easy part. The hard part? Everything else, like the fact that engine size is limited to 1,000 cc, off-roading is strongly encouraged and GPS use is severely frowned upon. So good luck to all the contestants out there -- wherever they are. To follow along with the adventure before the finish line closes on Aug. 30, click here --ASHLEY MELFI

Skoda Favorit
Henry Durant, 26
Debanish Dey, 25
William Thompson, 25
No second-guessing this team's destinations. With a box for every country the team plans on hitting, Ash, Henry and Will, with their Skoda Favorit green rally car, have set themselves up with a challenge. Many teams, including 5 Camels, 1 Chameleon, have blogs that chronicle their epic journeys. This team clearly advertises such a site on its hood.