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2017 Mazda Adventure Rally: Giving back can be devilishly fun

Many corporations, big and small, implicate themselves in charitable events. They generally involve cookouts, trials or sporting events. None that I know of revolve around a highly competitive, four-day long driving event with countless challenges, time constraints and fantastic cars. This is not called the Adventure Rally for nothing.

Mazda Rally 2017

In 2013, Mazda launched what was to become a nearly annual driving event for members of the Canadian Automotive media. In a nutshell, teams consisting of two journalists from one media would pair up, pick a charitable organization, a team name and number and be let loose on the road for a few days to gather as many points as possible through a series of tasks. When the invitations are sent out, we never know where we’re going nor are we told which cars we will be driving.

The event has proven to be extremely fruitful, as a number of participants have partaken in all of the Rallies. Although there are winning and losing teams, the real winners are the charities that receive generous donations from Mazda in the names of the top 3 outlets ($10,000 for 1st, $2,000 for 2nd and $1,000 for 3rd). Up until this year’s Rally, Mazda had already given away $41,000.

Points are awarded for successfully completed challenges such as best fuel economy, searching out selected signs and filling in blanks or finding specific landmarks and taking pictures of it with the car. This may sound like fun, and it is, but the competition quickly takes over and gets the best of us. It certainly did so in my case.

Before I tell you how where we placed, here’s a breakdown of how it all went down.

We flew out to Toronto and were informed that the lovely Muskoka region was our destination. Then, we got the real good news: We were going to be snuggly strapped into a new 2017 Mazda MX-5 RF for all four days! The RF is an absolutely brilliant piece of automotive engineering. I first drove the car in San Diego only a few weeks ago and shod with its summer tires and in 25-degree weather, I could find nothing wrong with this beautiful fastback-styled roadster. At -10 degrees, I would have liked a heated steering wheel in our GS-trimmed, Sport-packaged, Machine Gray MX-5.

Charles and I immediately agreed that the top was going to remain stowed the entire drive, and it did. This may have been a mistake as we scored poorly in the fuel consumption challenge but for everything else, we did good. Every morning, we were handed our route book complete with tests and maps. Day 1 came and went real fast and we placed mid-pack. Day two was frustrating but despite missing out on a few trials, we got the day’s highest score. By day three, we were determined to go all the way. Unfortunately, in our haste to not be spotted while completing questions, we drove, or I should say flew, past a few challenges unbeknown to us. Our score for day three was once more mid pack.

The final scores revealed that we ended the Rally in fourth place overall, if only because of Rallying rules as we had actually tied for third place. Because of this, Mazda still awarded us $1,000 that will be donated to the Breakfast Club of Canada in NetMedia360’s name.

In the end, Charles and I accomplished what we’d set out to do and we are quite proud of ourselves. Also, we need to return next year and kick some serious butt.

And lastly, a huge thank you goes out to Mazda Canada for putting on such an incredible event where everyone has fun and charities turn out to be the real winners.


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