Last weekend saw a number of Imperial students take part in the Raising and Giving (RAG) Jailbreak, in which they aimed to get as far away from Imperial as possible without spending their own money. The most successful team managed to make it to Cape Town, South Africa, a total distance of more than 9,500 km.

16 teams took part in the event, which kicked off on Saturday, 2nd of December. The teams travelled an average of 2,430 km, with destinations ranging from Morocco to Glasgow. One team only managed to make it to Heathrow, a total journey of 19.4 km.

Felix spoke to two of the teams: Brownian Motion, who went to Cape Town (and set the previous record of Bali); and John and Saaras, who reached Istanbul:

F: How did you make it to your destination?

BM: We played a long game. Instead of trying to leave London at the first opportunity, we decided to commit 100% to raising as much money as possible during the day, and then select a destination with the funds we’d raised. We treated it like a problem-solving exercise: we optimised the amount of money we were raising per hour – every minute lost felt like money lost. We realised a lot of people don’t really carry much cash, so we had mobile card readers to make contactless donations super easy.

JS: We started at 10am, and went fundraising around South Kensington and Knightsbridge until 4pm. We then went back to College and found flights on SkyScanner to Istanbul – we had aimed to make it to the Greece/Cyprus area, so this was perfect. However, we needed to raise some more money, so we went back to fundraising. We finished at 8pm and went straight to the airport.

F: What was the hardest bit of the journey?

BM: Definitely the final two hours before the flight departed. After an extremely intense day of fundraising, we quite literally sprinted back to Blackett, and found a range of possible destinations. Once we settled on the flight to South Africa, we realized it was 1 hour and 45 minutes till the flight departed. After spending a total of 4 minutes packing for our journey to the other side of the world, we dashed to the airport in an Uber. We weren’t sure if we’d make it to the terminal in time, but we took the risk and went ahead with the tickets. Fast forward 20 minutes: we arrived at the wrong terminal, and were constantly trying to call Emirates for the possibility of changing the flight.

We took our chances again and sprinted with our luggage for 7 minutes straight till we arrived, drenched in sweat, at the customer service desk who, after explaining that this was a charity competition, kindly opened up the gates for us to let to continue our mad dash to the airplane. We didn’t know we had this much cardio in us.

JS: The hardest part was the time constraint of raising enough money before we went to the airport and making it to the flight.

F: What tips would you give to others?

BM: We weren’t afraid to try new things and be creative – we would walk straight into comfy 5-star hotels and take the lift to fundraise in the executive lounges. People were surprisingly OK with this. We also took a genuine interest in the people we were talking to. Jailbreak is pretty much the only excuse you get to know the people of London at this scale, so trying to build a genuine connection with the people you’re talking to goes a long way in persuading them to donate.

Our main advice would be to really try to make Jailbreak your own and don’t be afraid of trying new things. If a certain delivery isn’t working, switch it; if you’re getting tired, grab a coffee. And be very wary of holding false preconceptions about what is and isn’t possible!

JS: People are really nice and if you’re confident and nice back, they end up being really generous. The first woman we spoke to offered us a free bus ride to Southampton that evening if we hadn’t managed to do any better.

Fundraising will be completed by Saturday, 9th of December.