Jailbreak teams talk strategy, travel and fundraising

indepth1Did you log onto your Facebook account this weekend? Did you scroll absentmindedly through your newsfeed? Did you stumble across a post about the phenomenon that is Jailbreak? Or were you glued to the Jailbreak website, tracking teams and cursing the fact that you didn’t apply to take part in the challenge? It seemed impossible to escape the adventures of our fellow students over the course of the two-day competition. 80 teams from 8 colleges across the country took part in this week’s Jailbreak and coverage featured in national media from the Irish Times to Newstalk. The teams raced towards Location X – which turned out to be Lake Bled in Slovenia – and managed to raise over €60,000 for Saint Vincent de Paul and Amnesty. Here at Trinity News, we wanted to learn more about what it was like to be on the race of a lifetime. Did the teams have a strategy? How did they find the challenge? We spoke to five of Trinity’s very own Jailbreak teams about what it’s like to participate in one of the most discussed and publicised student events in the college year.

Sam McMahon and James Orr

Sam, a second-year law student, and James, a self-described second year science “geek”, gained attention from the very beginning of the Jailbreak journey when the popularity of their creative video, depicting the pair as Lego adventurers gained them a 10 minute headstart in the competition. Eventually reaching second place, the lads had plenty to share about their adventures into the unknown.

B_lClR7XEAArJ_0-bicubicSource: Jailbreak HQ

Did your team have a plan from the outset?

We had a basic plan to get us out of the country, but other than that, no! Like many Jailbreak teams we were fortunate enough to have corporate sponsorship and so were able to get flights from Dublin-Brussels on the morning of Jailbreak. From there, we just had to wing it and hope we were heading in the right direction to Location X! We knew it was somewhere to the Balkan Peninsula so from Brussels we headed east! From Brussels we got a train to Cologne. When we arrived here we weren’t sure whether to get another train to Frankfurt or get an over-night train to Munich. So we took our chances and got a night train to Munich on Saturday night! Along the way we were constantly making lego videos and made one for our sponsors FEXCO as well. They loved the videos so much that they agreed to give us flights from Munich – Ljubljana on Sunday afternoon! We took a massive gamble with this flight. Before we booked this flight we knew location X would either be in Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia or Macedonia. When we boarded our flight to Ljubljan,a we heard location X was either in Slovenia or Croatia. At this stage we were pretty excited – and knew we’d a 50/50 chance! As soon as we touched down in Ljubljana, HQ contacted us and announced location X was in Lake Bled, just 35km from Ljubljana airport. We sprinted out of the airport and found the first shuttle bus to Lake Bled! We ran up to the castle and we’re just 30 minutes behind the winners. We were delighted!

What is your favourite memory from the experience?

The overnight train from Cologne toMunich. After some difficulties with the ticketmaster, we were shown our “sleeper dorm”. A tiny dark room with six beds. Three on each wall. Four of the beds were taken with sleeping bodies. And keeping with the Jailbreak fashion, we felt it was important to document the moment and took a selfie, or four. The flash from the camera woke up our new roomies, they were not impressed. I think by that stage of the day we were both delirious from lack of sleep and found it way too funny.

Anything about the Jailbreak experience you didn’t expect?

Neither of us expected to come second place! When we were in Munich that morning, we were something like 45th on the leader board! Finding wifi across Europe, we didn’t expect it to be so difficult! Also, don’t go near the swans in Lake Bled.

Seán Kelly and Anna Sutcliffe

Seán, a second-year Irish studies student, and Anna Sutcliffe, a second-year German and business student, were living it up in Venice when Trinity News got in touch with them after the race had ended. This pair of Gaeilgóirí finished in joint third place, having joined up with six other teams on the final hurdle to Location X, and had plenty to reveal about taking part in the competiton.

Source: @Sean_Kelly365

Did your team have a plan from the outset?

We didn’t have an exact plan. We didn’t even think we’d get out of the country but a generous bus company donated flights and money to the charities – so then we thought we’d wing it when we got onto Mainland Europe.

What is your favourite memory from the experience?

My favourite experience would have to be when we formed the mega team on the bus heading to Slovenia – there were seven teams so we decided to finish together! The winning teams from NUIG and UCC were with us as well. We had great fun trying to figure the clues out together – and messing with HQ of course!

Anything about the Jailbreak experience you didn’t expect?

We weren’t expecting people to be so helpful or that we’d meet so many other Jailbreakers on our travels!

Catherine Hearn and Aisling O’Connor

Second-year German students Catherine and Aisling got a chance to use their language skills on their escapades around Europe without any corporate sponsorship.


Source: Aisling O’Connor

Did your team have a plan from the outset?

We thought we had a plan in that we didn’t have any corporate sponsorship so we would raise the money ourselves around Dublin and then get a flight that we had seen from Dublin to Cologne at 5pm on Saturday evening for €60 each. We raised the money only to get to the airport and discover the flight had gone up to €270! Luckily, we managed to grab one to Frankfurt with Lufthansa. Unluckily, it used up all of our travel funds!

What is your favourite memory from the experience?

My favourite memory is probably getting on that flight with a good few other teams – just the general excitement and camaraderie, and the fact that we were all finally getting out of Ireland!

Anything about the Jailbreak experience you didn’t expect?

I didn’t expect the Irish to be so wonderfully generous and I was bowled over by the support of my friends and family at home.

Lee Jones and Jack Maguire

These second-year students decided to try their hands at the Jailbreak with a little help from their trusty atlas, so it’s not surprising that this book-loving pair both study English. They spoke to Trinity News about seeing places in a new light.

11056691_919455031426121_1660297699_n-bicubicSource: Jack Maguire

Did your team have a plan from the outset?

Although we received a minor amount of cash from our corporate sponsor, JUST EAT, it was only enough for us to pre-book one way tickets to London. After that, our plan for Jailbreak was non-existent. We brought at a primary school atlas with us and along the way relied solely on that and Skyscanner to tell us the best way forward.

What is your favourite memory from the experience?

Definitely the last night in Brussels. After missing a flight back to Dublin at 10pm that evening and with no available hostels in the city centre, we were forced to wander the streets of this beautiful city until the train services opened again at 5am to bring us the airport. We slept rough on the steps to Brussels Central Station for about two hours, and now all my muscles ache and my clothes are filthy but it was such an odd, little adventure around the city, looking up landmarks and talking to the locals, that I wouldn’t go back and change it now.

Anything about the Jailbreak experience you didn’t expect?

I didn’t expect to raise the amount of donations that we ended up with on our journey through Europe. From collecting 10 notes from passengers on the Ryanair flight to London to receiving small change of every sort of currency outside Madame Toussauds in Amsterdam, we must have collected over 300 for the cause and for our travel expenses.

Hugh Weldon and Ahmad Mu’azzam

Third-year mechanical engineering students Hugh and Ahmad were the winners of this year’s Jailbreak, climbing the steep steps of Bled Castle before any other team after passing through Paris, Brussels and Ljubljana.

B_k-klCXEAAQ2Kh-bicubicSource: Jailbreak HQ

Did your team have a plan from the outset ?

We thought we had a plan. We decided prior to the event to fly to Brussels, get the train to Paris and then work from there. But that didn’t work out at all. We didn’t have money for a first flight, so absolutely legged it out of Collins Barracks, got a taxi man to drop us to Grafton Street for free, and set up camp shaking buckets to raise our flight money. We wrangled about €300 out of tourists and people on the way to work, then headed for terminal 1. All Brussels flights were booked out so we made a split decision to take the 3:05 Air France flight to Paris. We were then stranded in Charles de Gaulle almost indefinitely until we could plan our next move and raise the €20 necessary for an RER to Paris city. We kipped with a friend of mine on Erasmus for about an hour and a half, used his wifi and got a late night Skype call from another friend training to be a cadet with Aer Lingus. He convinced us to go back to Brussels and then fly directly to Ljubljana in the morning.

In the meantime, we had gotten word from a corporate sponsor who wanted to buy us flights and keep us in the game. We took a 5:58am TGV from Gare du Nord to Brussels and flew directly to Ljubljana. When we arrived in Slovenia we went online and realised that we had jumped from 44th place to 1st, and that the countries had been narrowed down to Slovenia and Croatia. We only had enough money to get to Zagreb or Lake Bled if we stayed in Slovenia, so we decided to “put it all on red” and headed for Lake Bled. En route we were told that the country was Slovenia, and when we arrived we were told we were in fact in the right place. Frantic dashing around eventually led us up the steps to the castle and the finish line.

What was your favourite memory ?

Our favourite memory was probably in Charles de Gaulle Airport. We chatted to a very nice French SNCF ticket saleswoman. She was maybe a little bit older than us, but completely bought the idea. She spent a long time with us trying to find the best possible rail connection to keep us moving. We had all but decided to get the train to Geneva in the morning. She wrote out a note for us in French and we went around begging with it to get the €20 necessary for the RER.

You can still donate to the cause online here or by texting Jailbreak to 50300 to give €4.