This past September, Joanne Elves, Features Writer for the Globe and Mail’s Drive Section, and her husband Jeff Wearmouth were invited to participate in the 2015 Mazda Adventure Rally, a top secret, three-day, 1,200-kilometre-long charity challenge hosted by Mazda Canada. Ten teams of automotive writers from across Canada competed against each other, earning points by overcoming on-the-road challenges including route plotting, time restraints, finding and photographing obscure landmarks, and sourcing historical facts. The three teams to finish with the most points were presented with $10,000, $2,000 or $1,000 to donate to their charity of choice.
Joanne and Jeff generously chose the Rick Hansen Foundation as their charity of choice and landed in third place, winning $1,000 for the Foundation! We talked to Joanne about her the trip, why she chose RHF, and what it was like on the road.
What did you think when you were invited to the Mazda Adventure Rally?
A three-day rally in an undisclosed Mazda in an undisclosed region of North America - who wouldn’t want to go! My husband, Jeff is a gearhead so he was the perfect person to team up with.
Tell us, why did you choose the Rick Hansen Foundation as your charity of choice?
I wanted to find a charity that was auto-related. I knew that Rick Hansen was thrown from the back of a pickup truck, and as a result has helped countless others who are trying to regain mobility. In an odd way, I thought it was a nice way to thank Rick for helping people move forward after their life-altering auto accidents.
What was the course like and what kinds of obstacles did you come across?
The team at Mazda did an amazing job of designing a route that covered almost 1,000 kilometres of highways, backroads, logging roads and dirt.
We only found out a few days before we left that the course would start in Vancouver. The first day was on the Sea To Sky Highway to Whistler and Jeff drove. Day two had me behind the wheel. Jeff is a great driver but even better at telling me where to go. (And I mean that in the nicest way.) Along the way we had to complete a “BINGO” sheet of questions like find the “Hanging Tree” in Lillooet and the name of the judge who did all the hangings.
It wasn’t long before we hit the dirt and logging roads. We climbed to the top of a ridge to stop at a sign that read “23% Grade. Not Recommended for Public Use.” But, our directions said to go down. It was one of those insanely steep narrow dirt roads where long trucks don’t turn - they just get to the corner and continue up in reverse. The car handled it well, and I’m sure gripping the steering wheel as tight as I did helped, too. Day three we started tied in second and somehow only slipped half a point to take third.
How did it feel to take third place?
We were up against some of the best auto writers in Canada so we had no expectations. But in the back of my mind I really wanted to win it for the Rick Hansen Foundation. When the judge said we placed third, I was thrilled. To help the Foundation break down a barrier is cool. And plus, we get pretty sweet trophies and bragging rights. And trust me, I will be bragging!
Thank you so much Joanne, Jeff and Mazda for your generous gift to the Rick Hansen Foundation!
Read Joanne’s full (and funny) account of the Adventure Rally in the Globe and Mail