An epic annual battle among Leeds University students to get the furthest away from Leeds in 36 hours went to the wire this year - with the winners taking to a boat to beat their closest rivals by a matter of miles.
James Higson, 21, and Erin O’Loughnane, 20, made Leeds RAG Jailbreak history by commandeering a boat at the southern-most tip of Tenerife with just an hour to go and sailing off-shore as fast as they could. Their incredible efforts saw them crowned winners of the 2015 charity hitch-hike challenge, beating unlucky runners-up Crissy Hall and Molly Hopwood by just FOUR miles.
By 8pm on Tuesday, it was a journey that had seen both teams travel 1,937 miles to the largest Canary Island by foot, car, plane, bus and train - spending none of their own money - since leaving Leeds at 9am on Monday.
As their GPS maps updated every four hours to show the locations of all the teams, Erin and James saw their rivals were also in Tenerife.
Third-year geography student Erin said: “We thought ‘Oh no, what are we going to do?’ We knew we obviously had to get further south.”
The pair turned to the sea in an 11-hour bid for victory and after failing to persuade local fishermen to take them out, they were helped by a friendly ex-pat who called on a mate with a boat.
Third-year product design student James said: “It was about 8pm when we left. We sailed down to the south tip of the island - at this point it had gone pitch black. Then we got a message on our phone to tell us that we’d won. I was ecstatic - but felt a bit bad for the other team. It obviously went to the very last minute of Jailbreak.”
Runners-up Crissy and Molly said it was a “complete shock” to lose by four miles but added: “We were impressed Erin and James were resourceful enough to hop on a boat, thus far more deserving of winning jailbreak than we were.”
Molly Elmes, manager of ‘hitches’ at the University of Leeds said: “I am extremely proud of all the Leeds RAG Jailbreak participants who tried something new to raise money for charities close to their hearts.
“As always, this year’s hitch was filled with surprises and our winning team made Leeds RAG Jailbreak history by heading further south in a boat off the coast of Tenerife.
“In total our 19 teams fund-raised £11,385.38 for their chosen organisations.”
Winning team’s route:
9am - Set off from the Parkinson building at Leeds University;
Run to Leeds train station, but couldn’t get free tickets;
Run to one of Jailbreak’s sponsors, KPMG office on Neville Street;
10.30am - Hitch a lift with a KPMG employee travelling south, to Wombwell train station, South Yorkshire
12noon - Catch a train to Sheffield Meadowhall
Train from Sheffield Meadowhall to Doncaster
Train from Doncaster to London. Arrive in London Kings Cross at 2pm
Use donations to pay for a day travel pass and catch a tube to Canary Wharf to KPMG’s London office in unsuccessful sponsor money plea
Tube to London Bridge to fundraise and call airlines
9pm -Train to Gatwick Airport - fundraise and sleep
9.15am - Flight to La Palma, Canary Islands
4pm - Flight from La Palma to Tenerife
8pm - Sail in a boat to southern most tip of the island until 9pm deadline. WIN
Final team destinations:
#1 – Erin and James – Tenerife, Spain – Leeds > Peterborough > London > Gatwick Airport > La Palma > Tenerife > A boat out to sea headed south and sent a GPS reading of where they got to (28°00’16.6”N, 16°42’38.72W) – 1941 miles
#2 – Crissy and Molly – Tenerife, Spain – Leeds > Harrogate > York > Newcastle > Tenerife – 1937 miles
#3 – Charlie and Becky – Salerno, Italy – Leeds > Leeds Bradford Airport > Rome > Naples > Salerno – 1157 miles
#4 – Jonny and Fraiyah – Warsaw, Poland – Leeds > Manchester > London > Dover > Cologne > Berlin > Warsaw – 941 miles
#5 – Mark and Lawrence – Munich, Germany – Leeds > Chesterfield > London > Dover > Brussels > Cologne > Frankfurt > Munich – 691 miles
#6 – Hannah and Gabriella – Geneva, Switzerland – Leeds > London > Stanstead Airport > Geneva – 626 miles
#7 – Alice and Cat – Berlin, Germany – Leeds > Newcastle > Amsterdam > Oldenburg > Berlin – 625 miles
#8 – Caroline, Talor and Jordan – Dijon, France – Leeds > Wakefield > Cobham > Dover > Dunkirk > Reim > Dijon – 532 miles
#9 – George and Tom – Leige, France – Leeds > Leeds Bradford Airport > Peterborough > Heathrow Airport > London Victoria > Channel Tunnel > Brussels > Leige – 525 miles
#10 – Ruby and Caroline – Cologne, Germany – Leeds > Leicester > London > Epson > Dover > Dunkirk > Cologne – 409 miles
#11 - Bryony and Justin – Le Mans, France – Leeds > Woodley Services > London > Dover > Calais > Rouen > Le Mans – 407 miles
#12 – Hannah, Rachel and Libby – Paris, France – Leeds > Cambridge > London > Harpenden > Luton > St Pancreas > Folkestone > Dover > Calais > Reims > Paris – 381 miles
#12 – Sinethemba, Alex & Jose – Paris, France – Leeds > Milton Keynes > London > Dover > Calais > Bruges > Paris – 381 miles
#14 – Abbie and Georgia – Brussels, Belgium – Leeds > Leicester > Dover > Dunkirk > Brussels – 323 miles
#14 – James and Caz – Brussels, Belgium – Leeds > Humberside Airport > Hull > Sheffield > London > Channel Tunnel > Brussels – 323 miles
#14 – Edie and Izzy – Brussels, Belgium – Leeds > St Albans > London > Dover > Dunkirk > Lille > Brussels – 323 miles
#17 – Dani, Rach and Sophie – Antwerp, Belgium – Leeds > London > Dover > Calais > Oostende > Antwerp – 307 miles
#18 – Phil and Sholto – Lille, France – Leeds > London > Heathrow Airport > Stockbury > Dover > Calais > Lille – 293 miles
#19 – Jonathon and Nat – Bruges, Belgium – Leeds > Leicester > Barnet > Gillingham > Dover > Calais > Bruges – 269 miles