Broadcaster Alex Beresford, singer Mel Blatt, McFly drummer Harry Judd, and British Racing Driver Billy Monger are taking part in the highly anticipated Celebrity Race Across the World. This challenging adventure will begin in Marrakech, Morocco and end in Tromsø, Norway, covering 24 countries and over 10,000 km.
Throughout the journey, the participants will experience diverse landscapes and cultures, starting from vibrant Marrakech, through Mediterranean seaside ports and historic cities, crossing the Alps, exploring Central Europe, the Baltic States, and finishing in snowy Scandinavia.
In this six-part celebrity edition of the popular show, the four celebrities and their racing partners will compete to reach the finish line without using air travel or modern-day conveniences. Stripped of all luxuries and relying solely on their skills, resourcefulness, and hard work, they will have to earn money along the way and rely on the kindness of strangers to progress. They will not have access to credit cards, smartphones, or the internet, and their only financial means will be the cash equivalent of a plane ticket to their final destination.
Here Alex and his dad Noel tell us about their reasons for taking part and what their biggest sacrifices were in making the trip.
Why did you decide to participate in the series?
Alex: I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to do something that we’ve never done before. Neither of us have ever backpacked, so it’s a new experience. And, also, just to see some amazing places! Across continents and across countries, and you’re getting to see everything at ground level, so it’s completely different to just flying over – getting to immerse yourself in different cultures and communities. And then there’s also the excitement of not knowing where we’re actually going or how we’re going to get there, every day is up in the air and can either all fall apart or can all come together and hopefully it comes together so we can win! That’s why we signed up, right?!
Noel: Yes Sir! I’m into exploring new things, so this seemed like a good opportunity to see all the different cultures and how other people live and see how we get on, because we haven’t spent a lot of time together over the last year and a half.
Alex: Yes, during Covid, being separate and not being able to see each other for a good period of time. I’m living in London and dad is living in Bristol, so we do get to see each but not really for proper quality time, sometimes it’s very brief, so this is uninterrupted time and I don’t know when we’ll get that again.
Was the opportunity to spend time together a major factor in your decision to participate?
Alex: Yes, definitely. You spend so much time with your parents as kids and then there’s a massive chunk of your life where you’re building your own life and you’re separate, even though you’re still in contact and still often together. So, this is an opportunity to spend some good quality time with one of your parents.
Would you describe yourselves as adventurous?
Alex: I’d say we are both very adventurous, well I say that and we haven’t actually backpacked before… But we’re both up for experiencing life and new experiences! I guess I’m a chip off the old block, as they say, my dad is very outgoing, I’m very outgoing, so it made sense to do it with him.
What kind of travelers are you? Do you prefer luxury or comfortable accommodations?
Alex: Ordering room service, having a nice time, taking a dip in the pool, I guess that’s what we’ve been used to. Backpacking hasn’t previously really appealed to me, to be honest with you, only because I’d always be thinking about ‘where are we going to stay?’, ‘how am I going to wash?’ all of those kinds of things. I am quite fussy I guess. I can be fussy, which is probably why I never wanted to do it before. But, at my age now, I think to myself, this is the right time. I’m up for a new experience and I’d like to challenge myself in different ways.
Noel: As Alex said, we’ve never done anything like this. The closest I’ve been to something like this is probably sleeping outside after a night out on the drink! So, it’s going to be interesting!
Alex: I think also, our lives, well not so much dad’s because he’s retired now, but our lives are so busy that when I think holiday, I think two weeks, it’s got to be in a sunny destination, I want guaranteed good weather, you want to guarantee it’s going to be exactly what you need because you’re escaping the rat race back home. But, what’s different with this is we’re not escaping the rat race, we’re actually in a race! I don’t know exactly what to expect and I’m happy to go with the flow, but I imagine that at times it is going to be quite testing isn’t it? It’s going to be uncomfortable, there’s going to be some dead time where you want to move but you can’t move, and it’s a race so I can’t imagine how relaxing it’s going to be. However, it’s a one-off experience, obviously it’s a race from start to finish but at the same time we want a great experience, we want to also be able to stop off and go and see some great things.
Noel: I’m also interested to meet the other competitors.
Alex: Yes, we also want to be able to size everybody up and see who our competition is!
How competitive are you both? Is winning the main objective?
Noel: We are very competitive, but we’re here to enjoy it and see things, different cultures, how people live, explore all the nice things we come across. It’s not just head down get to the finish line.
Alex: We want to be looking up, we don’t want to be looking down. You’ve got to find that fine balance of wanting to win, but to get to the end and win having not seen anything would actually be a loss.
How do you feel about being without a mobile phone or credit cards during the trip?
Alex: I’m really struggling with that. I keep going to put my hand in my pocket because I think my phone is there, and then it’s not. So, I think my dad will probably cope better than me because although he’s used to being on his phone, it’s the young ones really isn’t it who are used to being on their phones, having them attached to their hands. So, I am going to struggle, although I am hoping that something that will come out of this experience is me being able to put down my phone because I am on it all the time. I also want to call home desperately, it’s part of my routine. My watch is still on English time and I’m thinking, my son has just got home, and I’d like to give him a call to see how his day was and I can’t do that, and that’s quite heart breaking.
Noel: Yes, I was thinking the same thing, so I brought some puzzle books.
Alex: I didn’t bring anything like that! So, I might need to borrow one so I can do something! I also do have an old school iPod that I managed to borrow from a friend so that will keep me entertained.
What do you anticipate will be your biggest challenges during the trip?
Alex: This trip is about sacrifices; you have to sacrifice at every stage to make your money last. You have to really think about your choices and, also, there will be some gambles, so I’m worried about the gambles that we take – will they be the right gambles? Will they be the wrong gambles?
Noel: We could make a bad choice but with the other series that I’ve watched, it’s about the recovery.
Alex: Yes, that’s the thing, this race will be won on choices. You need to make the right choices; I’ve done my research as well with previous series and I’ve seen that it’s an open race until the end.
Noel: If we make a bad choice, we’ll want to make sure we don’t make it again, and I’ve also seen people recover from those bad choices.
Alex: That’s the good thing as well, there’s room for mistakes throughout this whole process. If you make a mistake, and you get left behind, it might give you the opportunity to go and do something that you wouldn’t have necessarily got to do if you had got on that bus that you wanted to get on. So, it’s about weighing up the pros and cons of every choice.
It seems you’ve thoroughly researched previous series of Race Across the World. Did you gain any useful tips from them?
Alex: I think you have to, you have to get yourself into it. In terms of tips, it was the choices thing. From watching the previous series, I’ve had thoughts at the start of ‘they’re definitely going to win,’ and then they didn’t win. And that’s the beauty of it, that we’re all on an equal playing field.
Do you have a strategy for the race?
Alex: I don’t think you can have a strategy for this, other than spend your money wisely. That’s probably the biggest strategy, so that we can actually stay in the competition, because it would be heart breaking to have to leave because we run out of money.
Noel: Trying to work our way on the transport so we don’t have to pay!
Alex: Yes, we’ll serve drinks, we’ll do whatever we need to do in order to save money! But really, I don’t think you can have too much of a strategy, just because there are so many twists and turns. So, I think if you try and pick a way to do this, that could actually be your downfall. Instead, I think tackling your problems as they come up is the way to do this.
Have you packed any essential items for the trip?
Alex: Well, I like to look after my beard, so I shaved it down for the start, but I’m debating whether I’ll end up growing the beard out or not, so I’ve brought my beard pruning stuff with me. So, I’ve got my cutthroat blade, which I will use from time to time to tidy things up and still try and remain fairly respectable. But ask me in seven days’ time… I think it’s all going to go out the window!
Noel: I’ve got my puzzle books, but that’s about it really.
Alex: We packed really simply and that’s actually one thing that worries me. I don’t actually have any of my creature comforts or things that I like to do, so in the quiet time it’s going to be quite difficult. Even today, I was in my room on my own and I started to think, and I could feel myself getting a bit emotional about wanting to call home.
Would you say you handle crises well? Are you calm under pressure?
Alex: I’d like to say that hypothetically we’d be good in a crisis, but lack of sleep, lack of food and all these other factors, could affect your state of mind and you could end up making a couple of bad choices. Who knows?
How does your family feel about both of you embarking on this race?
Noel: They’re right behind us!
Alex: Yes, all the way! They think it’s such a great opportunity, I know that lots of them are jealous because they’re not getting to do it! My wife is absolutely beside herself that she’s not here doing this, because this is something that she would love to do. We only got married recently so we’ve gone from just getting married, still going through the honeymoon period and then I’ve left her for a month! So, we better come back with a win!
Image Credit: Alex Beresford and dad Noel (Studio Lambert Ltd/Pete Dadds)
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