Hitch-hikers race to Czech out Prague


Hitch-hiking the 1170 miles from snowy Scotland to the Czech Republic’s even snowier capital was a “Challenge accepted!” but dozens of Race2Prague teams this past inter-semester. Winning team, Lad, Gash and Banter, composed of Dougal Adamson and Tom Whitehead, arrived at the finishing post in record-whizzing time (less than 34 hours!), after striking up a lucky relationship with a travelling Englishman. The boys told The Saint that their travel companion ‘began to get quite in to the whole ‘race’ thing and decided to drive us all the way Prague! We plugged in the hostel postcode into his sat-nav and were driven right to the doorstep! We met him for a meal and some drinks in the evening – he was a really great guy and it rounded off a great experience.”

However, in true Race2 fashion, some trips did not run as smoothly, and with thanks to the wonders of the interactive map we were able to keep a tab on some of the best (and worst!) stories…

For many teams, the constant battle to stay awake, warm and on the lookout for potential lifts proved challenging, and soon the simple pleasures in life were noted in the interactive diaries.  Team Sexy Eagles wrote: “Our truck driver just gave us Capri Sun. Best. Thing. Ever.”, while the noses of team MacMyra directed them across the channel: “We can almost smell the baguettes”. Without a Paddle discovered the wonders of what Belgium had to offer, with their simple “Brussels with beer and waffles” update.

As ever, Race2 brought some fabulous transport stories.  Despite being momentarily stuck in the Borders town of Hawick, Czech us out subsequently “Got a shout-out on BBC Radio Borders, and then picked up by a limo!”  In mainland Europe, the Wacky Racers had an eye-opening encounter on the infamous German autobahn: “Ahhhhh our first experience of the Autobahn – someone just overtook us when we were going at 100 mph!”

Elfie and Annie felt themselves rightful members of Team Gryffindor, as they updated their travel status to: “Riding an overnight train to Nuremburg, Harry Potter-style #boystriponhogwartsexpress”.  And with the finishing line in sight, Czech our Praguerness gave a rather excited update: “It’s a sign! ABBA’s Take A Chance On Me comes on as we’re on our final ride to Prague! #ScandoSingalong #Race2Anthem #TakeAChance”.

Many teams claim that their Race2 experiences were strengthened by the unbelievable kindness, hospitality and character of the people who aided them on their journeys. Czech-Mates were privy to an incredible act of compassion, when they reported that: “Guy bought us 3 train tickets to Prague [from Antwerp, Belgium] – €560. His mum died from cancer. There are no words.”

Meanwhile in Germany, team Meat and Two Veg. were busy: “Staying for a while in Spremberg. Have been invited to a 60-something-th birthday party. The beer is flowing”. Timpossible and the Flying Penguins struck gold by hitching a ride with “Two awesome Brits taking us up to Antwerp! Their car smells of hobnobs and it’s amazing.”

Others stuck up more business-like relationships, and Lady and the Tramp soon found the true price of hitching a ‘free’ ride: “taking part in a newspaper round” before gaining a lift to “Cologne in a truck with big driver with an even bigger moustache”. On the theme of excellent facial hair, Walla Walla Weasel Wackness reported that they were “still with our Russian driver, Serge (like the meercat…)”. Rather worrying, some teams seemed to be of use to their lift-givers, with team Gay claiming they were getting a “lift to Nuremberg with a Slovakian man who needs the company to stay awake”.

This year’s weather conditions were truly horrible, and as fate insists, there were some rather unlucky travelers’ tales en-route to Prague.  Sometimes the going got tough, with Team Rocket reporting in that one team mate had “lost my favourite hat in a car. Gutted.”

The sub-zero temperatures proved challenging with many unhappy teams losing sensation in their fingers and toes, leaving several facing a bit of a meltdown. Do you want to Czech that? got in contact to let us all know that they were “In Dresden. Very cold. Rather shrivelled.”  While rather comically, Noah’s Ark claimed: “Eloise’s hair just froze…”.  It was snow laughing matter when Do you want to Czech that? (#2) reported: “Hahahahahaha our flight was cancelled mid-air back in Cologne. Someone does not want us getting to Prague”.

Others seemed rather unprepared for the wonders of a foreign country, with team Morge admitting: “We are fine, could do with German phrasebook though…”.  In the other extreme, The Racy Tucnaci seemed somewhat over-prepared, and made efforts to reassure their parents as such: “Dear Mom and Dad – we haven’t died yet! We accidentally set off the rape alarm in the back of a man’s car…”

Our Saint team put on a brave face despite a horrid string of luck, yet appeared to become slightly dazed and confused by the whole experience: “So, we don’t know if this is a good or a bad thing, we were abducted by aliens and have landed safely but the snow has now been replaced with sand. Are we in the lead?!”

For those lucky enough to hitch all the way, jubilant updates were contributed. The Snail Blazers celebrated with: ““We’re now in Prague! After hitching with 12 cars, 1 lorry and 1 police car. Success!”, while Team YONO gave some clever word play with: “Thought it was time to Czech-in as we have breached the FINAL FRONTIER. We’re coming for you, Prague!”

Francesca Vaghi reports on the best Race2 Prague story

“One of the best Race2 stories I’ve heard came from Team ‘Flower Power’, made up of Samia Saltiel, Emeera Hashim, and John Stackhouse, all in their second year. They seemed to be having a race similar to that of various other teams; after spending seven hours stuck at Dover, they arrived at Calais. Recovering inside a gas station, the team writes in their logbook: “trying not to go completely mental…might have failed”. Five hours later, two British lorry drivers rescued them from the snowy highway and took them close to a hotel…which ended up not existing!

So on they went to another rest stop, at which point, “a white stretch limo came to the service station”… The driver unpredictably agreed to let them on and take them as far as Munich – an eight-hour sleep on a limo was both surreal and heavenly. After Munich, they made their way to Nuremberg, getting stuck, for the last time, at a gas station. Until a “very elegant-looking lady” picked the team up and offered to take them all the way to Prague. The team grew excited after finding out this woman was in fact a countess, who was returning to her estate near Prague. She drove Emeera, Jonathan and Samia all the way to their hostel, telling them about her own hitchhiking adventures to Paris during her youth.

Prague by Callum Hyland

Photo credits: Callum Hyland, and Race2 Committee


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