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Seattle couple embarks on 10,000-mile trek through Europe, Asia

Travel partners and married couple Madison and Jake Leland are taking on the Mongol Rally in an effort to raise money for an international charity that provides cleft lip corrective surgeries, something Jake himself had as a child.

A couple from Seattle is embarking on a 10,000-mile journey through Europe and Asia as part of the Mongol Rally.

It is a grueling trip where you are given only a start point and an end point and how you get there is up to you. They also state you must use a certain type of vehicle – usually an older model with not much horsepower – to complete your journey. You are not given any on-the-road support or backup; you must navigate your way to the finish line on your own.

You may be asking, why would anyone put themselves through that? Well, for Madison and Jake Leland their love of travel certainly helped. They are also doing the rally to raise $5,000 for Smile Train, an international charity that provides cleft lip and palate surgeries to those who normally couldn’t afford it. So far they've raised nearly $3,000 of their goal. They said they hope the money raised will provide 10 children with cleft corrective surgeries.

Jake himself also had cleft lip as a child and is passionate about providing these opportunities to children who may not get them otherwise.

The two will have until September 10 to complete the rally which ends in Ulan Ude, Russia.

Madison, who’s communicated with KING 5 via e-mail, said this about the trip:

“Since the rally has no set route, teams are able to set their own. Some teams go North through Ukraine and Russia, which would be the quickest. We are doing the Southern Route, which involves crossing the Caspian Sea by ferry to get into Turkmenistan. We picked up the car in the UK and have already driven through France, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. The official launch party will be held in Prague, Czech Republic on Monday. Then we will head to Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, before we get to Turkey. Once we cross from Europe to Asia, things will get interesting! We will drive into Georgia and then Azerbaijan to catch the ferry across the Caspian Sea. This will be tricky because there is no schedule for boats, they just leave when they are full. Some people have waited between 3-9 days for a boat. Also, we only have a strict 5-day transit visa for Turkmenistan which will add another interesting element. After Turkmenistan, we will continue through Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and then onto Kazakhstan. Then we enter Russia for the first time, before hopping back over the border to Mongolia. Once we cross through Mongolia, we have about another day's drive to cross back into Russia to cross the finish line in Ulan Ude. Our goal is to arrive in Ulan Ude by September 10th

If you would like to follow along on their journey, you can visit their Facebook page and their travel blog.