Following the success of the inaugural Blackthorn Rally in 2016, fourteen former Army officers will once again travel to Southern Morocco to cover a 1500km route in nothing more than motorbikes and desert racing buggies.
Participants will travel over 250 km per day on a route that will see them start in the Moroccan town of Ouarzazate, south of the Atlas Mountains, and finish there 6 days later, using GPS navigation aids to help them traverse the tough terrain.
The rally starts on the 29th April 2017 and brings together a group of former Irish Guards and Household Cavalry officers, many of whom served together, many in Iraq and Afghanistan, and over many years have formed a close knit-bond. All have managed to transition from their Service life to interesting and successful roles outside of the military.
Ben Farrell, a former officer who commanded the Irish Guards between 2008 - 2010 and was awarded an MBE for his service in Kosovo, is one such participant. Now Head of Operations for John Lewis and a Trustee of the OA, Ben is keen to reunite with his former colleagues and celebrate taking part in this exciting rally. He says, “It is great to come together to take on the Blackthorn Rally, catch up and share experiences of civilian life. We all enjoy extending our networks and working to help our former military colleagues.”
The route is almost entirely off road and will consist of varying terrains such as vast dried lake beds and trails, rocky tracks up through the southern foothills of the Atlas Mountains to virgin desert sand of the northern Sahara. The group will travel through the palmeries of the stunning Draa Valley and will spend a night in a desert bivouac. Part of the route is close to that of the legendary Paris-Dakar Rally.
The event is named after the Blackthorn Rally after the walking sticks made from the Blackthorn tree carried by Irish Guards officers whilst in uniform.