Dozens of competitors are expected to take part in the inaugural Trans-European Race, which journeys from London to Istanbul using only public transport and on foot.
These international tourists will depart at 10 am on August 5 for a trip that the organizers say will last about 5 days. Some may take longer: in addition to the fastest prize, there will be additional prizes for the contestant with the lowest cost and the most countries.
The race is being organized by a Wigan-based company, Lupin Travel, whose main business is to take intrepid adventurers to normally off-limits destinations like Yemen and North Korea.
Contestants will be required to check-in at a series of secret checkpoints along the way – which will severely limit the amount of advance planning they can make. The first checkpoint will be in Paris, but the rest will only be revealed once.
Dylan Harris, founder of Lupine Travel, said: “We don’t want things to be too easy, so people can’t arrange everything in advance. It’s not just a matter of getting to Istanbul as quickly as possible. The first checkpoint will be Paris, but you will only know the location of the next checkpoint when you reach Paris.”
Anyone who has charted a route from the French capital via Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade and Sofia, and booked overnight trains, can find that they are instead routed through Italy and Greece .
The crow’s flight distance is 1,550 miles, but the overall distance can be much longer – especially for contestants who are diverting to smaller countries to increase the number of countries, such as Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and San Marino. The former Yugoslavia could also provide a useful transport in the form of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and North Macedonia.
“We wanted to do something different,” Mr. Harris said. We have taken trips to truly unusual destinations around the world. But we felt like we wanted to do something more accessible, get rid of group travel and more like real challenges.
“Make people have real experiences – not just fly somewhere and not experience the journey, just get in and out of there and have real experiences trying to go by rail, by bus or meet real people along the way. “
The entrance fee is £99 in addition to the cost of all trains, buses and accommodation, as well as the flight home (unless you choose to travel by road).
Hitchhiking, flying and catching a taxi are prohibited – except where taxis are used for the purpose of getting from the station to the hotel and vice versa.