Last week USIT announced that we were sponsoring a team from Trinity College for Jailbreak 2016, the largest student-run charity event in Ireland. The team made up of Sean, a 2nd year Medical student from Belfast, and Cian a 2nd year Engineering student from Meath. Together they make #SeanOrCian (all explained in their promo videos which can be found on their official Jailbreak page)
80 teams of 2 students, race to two mysterious locations X and Y, clues to which are released throughout the competition. However, there’s a catch… You aren’t allowed to spend any of your own money, leaving competitors with only charm and a cheeky smile to pay their way and all of this in just 36 hours!
Teams had to first race to location Y in order to get a key to allow them to progress to location X!
We caught up with #SeanorCian to find out how they got on…
We started our journey last Wednesday when we called into the Dublin USIT office to pick up our interrailing passes which they had so kindly agreed to sponsor for the competition. We were given month-long global passes!
However the real race started on Saturday morning at 9AM. 80 teams lined up at Collin’s Barracks at 8:50AM and waited nervously for the first clue. When the clock struck 9 the first clue was given and the teams sprinted off in every direction.
The first clue was “Head towards the rising sun” so we headed straight to the airport after blagging a free taxi. Here a kind Ryanair desk lady sorted the boys out with boarding passes despite the gate being closed and we jetted off to Amsterdam.
As we landed in Amsterdam, we got word that the second clue had been released; “I used to be a kingdom, but now I’m just a state. The capital of people who suffered from war and hate.” Confident in our knowledge of European history, we began searching for a train to Berlin. #SeanOrCian were feeling good as they made their way to Amsterdam Central Station.
Conventionally, the storm is ALWAYS followed by a rainbow. However in traditional #SeanOrCian fashion we once again defied this status quo and experienced in fact quite the opposite.
After a fairly stress free morning we were pure buzzing when we landed in AmsterDAYUM Central to the soundtrack of Send Me On My Way blaring from our speakers, poor Sean got a bit carried away God bless him. He bopped and he bopped, until his speaker fell down… Specifically, his (fairly expensive) speaker fell out of his bag and down beneath the last minute train that we were about to board. We had 14 seconds to make a decision:
Sean looked down, tears filling his beautiful blue eyes.
To board the train or not? Dedicated, they chose the prize.
And so they left Amsterdam central station
With a distinct lack of speakers and elation.
However fear not, the bopping did not cease
Until we reached location X, all in one piece.
In Amsterdam we boarded a train to Hannover and from there on to Berlin. As we closed in on Hannover, we got our third clue; “I’m not an island, but I touch the Baltic sea; this city is at my heart, where the Soviets lost and now we’re Soviets”. We were convinced at this point that location Y was Berlin. On the train to Berlin, not a care in the world Sean and Cian even bought a slush puppy. Sure location Y was Berlin so we could be there in a few hours, go out for dinner and maybe even work in a quick power nap before the first clue to location X.
Then all of a sudden our world was shaken to its very core. It was like reliving Robbie Williams leaving Take That all over again. Jailbreak HQ announced location Y and to say it didn’t tickle our fancy was an understatement… We most certainly did not foresee having to make the trek all the way to WARSAW? We’d sooner trek out to UCD for a pre!
To make this worse, Sean’s 3G stopped working as soon as we hit Germany and as Cian decided not to bother buying any credit for the weekend, we were left with shattered Berlin dreams and no credit, wifi or 3G to deal with it.
“Surely they decided to turn back at this point?” I hear you cry. No sir, for Sean and Cian had eyes for bigger better things, they’re going to become JAILBREAK KINGS. Instead, we courted a young German couple and wooed them into giving us a hotspot (until your man’s battery actually ran out).
We rectified the situation and headed onto Berlin. Thanks to our inter railing passes we were able to train hop around Berlin to find the quickest way to get to Warsaw. After plenty of searching and option weighing we managed to blag our way onto a late night bus to Warsaw.
24 hours in and running on little more than 2 packets of 26c Tesco crackers and a single tuppaware box of Cian’s pasta that can only be described as really really not tasty, we eventually landed in Warsaw.
“We may have lost our speakers, but our song still runs deep inside us.” – Cian Weldon 2016.
When we arrived in Warsaw, we got to location Y (the Old Market, in Warsaw’s Old City) by hopping on a train and then sprinting for half hour to Old Town Market square where we found those dreaded Jailbreak minions.
Here we got a key. A key with a clue. A clue to Location X:
“Head south for some craic”
So where else would we have headed but good ole KRAKOW!
We got this clue at 11:20 and the next train to CRAICobv was at 11:50. And so with not a penny, cent or zloty to our name, we had no choice but to make that dreaded sprint once more. However our bodies did not respond as willingly to our second request for a sprint; poor Cian had to take a tactical chunder. Given that we haven’t actually eaten any proper food since our Friday night tolteca though, this tactical did not come to fruition and was greeted by nothing more than dry retching (too much info? I think not).
However made it we did, arriving at the train station with 10 minutes to spare. Reservation only? “Sure it’ll be grandddd, the interrail passes will definitely cover us” we said. Upon arrival we soon found out this was NOT the case and didn’t fancy our chances of waiting in the queue for a ticket and potentially missing our only chance of reaching Location X before anyone else.
So hopped on we did, without a ticket or reservation but equipped with 2 extraordinarily tired pairs of eyes, an abundance of confidence and a tickle of charm that saw us convince not one, but 2 TICKET INSPECTORS at the same time trying to throw us off said moving train/ make us cough up €80, to let us be.
With literally no money for transport and having just successfully dodged over €80 in train tickets, we knew that our only form of transport once we arrived in Krakow was the two good legs that God donated to each of us. If we waited for the final clue we had no chance: our only chance of winning JB16 was to guess a location and go. T-30 minutes from the station, we stole a hotspot, got on google maps and decided where we thought location X was most likely to be.
We put it all on red.
We arrived into, and with the help of an extremely kind Polish lady successively navigated out of, the maze that is Kraków Central station.
From there we sprinted towards the only possible place that location X could be, the place were we would receive our crowns… Wawel Castle (which we soon learnt was pronounced **Vavel** Castle). Half way along our final marathon we received the final clue to location X:
“As teams draw near let’s make the location clear:
A mark of independence, solidarity and freedom. You cannot miss this reconstructed beacon.
The tension is building. Who will reach THE TOP OF THE MOUND, this is location X where Seo will be found”
So as you can see location X was quite definitely NOT Vavel Castle but rather the famous, Kosciuszko Mound. However sprinting we were, we only actually read the first part of the clue.
As we approached the castle it was tall, watching over the rest of the city and we also noticed that there were some new bricks – it matched the final clue!
Confidently we strided up the pathway, the impending glory soothing our burning calves, through the arches to the main courtyard. As we went through the final arch, what laid before our eyes made our jaws drop. We looked at each other and then sprinted towards our victory.
An absolute Seo (the guy we were trying to find – touch him and we won!) DOPLEGANGER stood at the top of a set of steps directly across from us.
When we pointed and shouted he nodded his head and nipped back under the shade of his umbrella. Utterly convinced, we ran up and grabbed his arm. This was not greeted with the celebratory hug, at least 400-like Facebook status and eternal glory that we were expecting, nay longing for, but rather just an angry German man squaring up to us…
We put it all on red. It was black.
At this point we received the picture of Seo at Location X, the news that 2 teams had already reached location X and very definite messages from well-wishers back home that we were 100% NOT in location X. Despite all this, delusional with fatigue, hunger and an undying belief that we were in the correct location, we proceeded to search the grounds for a further 20 minutes. We even tried to break into one of the bell towers.
Facepaint-stained sweat made tear-like marks as they streamed down our faces (we defs weren’t crying though because we’re tough and manly) and a small crowd gathering around us wondering what the FLIP we were doing, sudden realisation FINALLY sunk in that we were wrong.
Defeated, distraught, disgustingly sweaty we began our 80 minute walk to the Mound. Anyone we asked for directions said it was too far to walk but Jailbreak HQ’s selection of Location X and lack of taxi fare wasn’t beating us.
At 16:12 we reached the top of the Mound to place 13th in Jailbreak 2016. To say we weren’t disappointed with this would be a lie. However we said from as far back as the application process that we’d rather go down in a blaze of glory chasing victory than play it safe and come 2nd.
Although however disappointed we were with our final race position, we are extremely proud of how much money we raised over the weekend. We have now raised €1300 for Amnesty International and SVP.
This incredible adventure just would not have been possible without USIT’s generosity so once again we’d like to say a huge thank you to USIT.