The 'Mac 4x4', as it has affectionately become known, is a challenge for 4x4 enthusiasts of all kinds. It aims to test navigational, orienteering and observation skills with on and off road sections, and endurance by running day and night. It is intended to be a testing long weekend of driving, covering around 1000 miles, anywhere in the UK or Ireland, with various special stages en route. You don't need a specialised vehicle to take part; any sensibly equipped 4x4 should be up to the event (there have been standard Volvos, Vauxhalls and Toyotas entered, although the vast majority of cars are of the Land Rover marque). Initially teams only know where they are starting from, the route unfolding with the issue of road books between stages.
The event has developed a contagious spirit and camaraderie and, although it is seriously competitive, the main aim is to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. Since the first run in 2002 the average amount raised per team has been well over £1,000 and the 2009 event has taken the total raised so far over £1/2 million. A hard core of supporters has developed which has taken the event on from strength to strength with a highly visited website, marvellous support from clubs and magazine articles; helped by the participation of celebrity competitors such as Charlie Dimmock, Lynn Bowles and, in 2009, Julia Bradbury.
This year, Hartridge is sponsoring Simon Vogel and co-driver Mike Walker. They first participated in the challenge in 2004 in their Land Rover Discovery Td5. It was a decision based on some very personal links with Macmillan, an off-roading hobby and the opportunity to have a boy’s weekend away doing something worthwhile, whilst still having a lot of fun.
That initial attempt ended prematurely as a family emergency forced them to pull out half way through. Since then, however, there has been no looking back and the pair has won the event no less than 4 times in the past 5 years. The fifth outing resulted in an overall third place. As such the team, and the Discovery, has become the envy and target of many a fellow competitor.
2010 promises to be a very tough year, with the number of teams being increased from 60 to 90.However, the team are still confident that they will be able to continue their string of success this year.
The proceeds of the event, which depends on the sponsorship teams raise, all go to Macmillan Cancer Support, the country's major charity devoted to the support, treatment and care of people living with cancer and their families.
Anyone wishing to support Simon and Mike in their challenge can do so by donating via the charity websitewww.justgiving.com/2010MacTeam27
For more information on the event taking place on the 5 - 7th March 2010, visit www.mac4x4.co.uk