For anyone who doesn’t know, Warwick Jailbreak is a charity hitchhike challenge where participants try to get as far away from Warwick University campus within 36 hours. The one rule? You can’t spend any money on transport. This year, over £28,000 was fundraised in aid of Breast Cancer Now.
After taking part in Lost, equally as challenging but with the opposite aim, my housemate and I were never not going to try our hand at Jailbreak so as soon as the event had been announced, we signed up and started our fundraising.
The first challenge we faced was our fancy dress. After deciding nothing could top the chocolate bars we dressed as for Lost, we decided to stick with the general theme but switch over to sweets instead.
On the day of the event, the SU atrium was buzzing with energy, with teams determined to get as far away as possible. Following a countdown, everyone set off at 11am.
We had a really good start, within the first five minutes, we managed to hitch our first ride up to a service station on the M6. When we actually got there, we thought our chances to get another lift were slim as it was a really small area. However, we thought wrong and were off again about ten minutes after arriving.
Our streak of luck lasted until a barrister, who spent the whole hour and a half boasting about his own achievements, dropped us off at South Mimms Service on the M25. He insisted we would have our best luck here but he couldn’t have been more wrong.
After spending around four hours in the cold and being asked to leave the services, I was ready to go home. Eventually, a couple asked where we were headed and agreed to drive us further down South. We were warm again and headed closer to Dover, great right? Well no, it actually got worse from there.
We were dropped off at Bluewater Shopping Centre. As much as I love a good shop, now was not the time. It was dark, it was cold, we had to walk a couple of miles, blag our way on to a few trains, get a free Uber, but we managed to find Medway services.
Unfortunately, we also had to spend the night at Medway, alternating every hour to make sure the two of us managed to get some sleep. I thought South Mimms was bad, being sat at Medway at 5am after sleeping for two and a bit hours was on another level. We did come across a lot of people driving to Europe, but they weren’t leaving until Monday morning. After five odd hours of trying to hitch a ride, we walked to nearest train station and blagged our way on a train to Dover.
WE HAD FINALLY ARRIVED AT DOVER!
Luck was back on our side, minutes after arriving at the Port, a man pulled over and offered us a lift. It turned out he lived just off of Paris so he was happy to drive us up to there. By this point, we were elated. I had put loads of effort into trying to get my passport renewed before Jailbreak so actually being able to use it was great.
I can’t remember the name of the man, which is sad, but we really bonded during the 175-odd mile drive, so much so, he agreed to drive us all the way to Paris. On a side note, his French rap and dance skills were amazing.
We arrived with six hours of the challenge left to go but decided to call it a day and go exploring instead. We didn’t do too bad, just a day and a bit before we were on campus, that morning we were convinced we wouldn’t jailbreak the country and by evening we were on top of the Eiffel Tower.
Along the way we had a list of mini-challenges to complete which also went fairly well, up until I tried to blag a free meal and the lady mistook our ages so decided to lecture us on how unsafe it was for us to be travelling alone that late.
It was a weekend of spontaneity with so much that happened in-between. I’d definitely recommend taking part in Jailbreak or something similar if you get the chance! We may have lost hope at some points and bickered, but it’s a tonne of money for a great cause. The feeling of getting out of the country by blagging is like no other and not knowing where you will end up keeps you on edge. Meeting people you otherwise wouldn’t and hearing their stories is priceless. Plus, it makes you all that bit more grateful for warmth and your own bed.