College students ‘get their wings’ in Red Bull competition


All you have is a map.

There is no GPS because the only thing your phone is good for is contacting emergency services.

Getting directions is too complicated, as the people around you are speaking German, French, Italian and other languages you can’t understand. This is to be expected, since you are somewhere in Europe trying to travel to Paris from Berlin, Germany within seven days.

To make matters even more complicated, all you have for currency is a case of Red Bull.

For some, this may seem like a caffeine-fueled nightmare, but for a team of students representing Rowan University, it is a challenge they can’t wait to begin.

Red Bull’s “Can You Make It” adventure is an annual race that drops teams of three college students into a race across Europe. Armed with only a few cans of the energy drink, teams have one week to make it to six checkpoints spread out across various cities throughout the continent.

Teams will spread out across the various checkpoints before starting, but the final destination for everyone will be in Paris, France. Along the way, points are scored for completing challenges. The team that makes it to the finish line with the most points is the winner.

There are over 165 teams competing this year from universities across the globe. Team “Trekkin Trio” is the team started by Rowan students.

Cassandra Aran, more widely known as Cassie Wanderlust by her YouTube followers, is a senior marketing and entrepreneurship major. Although this will be her first trip to Europe, she has traveled inside and outside the United States. With her trusty GoPro and numerous other recording devices, she enjoys documenting her travels and sharing them on her YouTube channel, “KICKINwithCASSIE.”

Aran is excited about all the footage she will be able to get on her crash course through Europe and eager for the challenge as she preps for the trip.

“Just want to get out of my comfort zone,” Aran said. “It’s definitely a scary trip, I’ve backpacked, you know, but not with no money at all. And a map— I can’t even read one right now. So I have to look up how to read a map.”

Brandon Lucante is a senior double-major in public relations and advertisement. In 2014, he caught the travel bug when studying abroad in Australia. He had never done any major traveling before then and had barely been on planes except for a visit to see family and a trip to Disneyland.

During his time in Australia, he met Aran and the two traveled throughout the country and visited Tasmania and New Zealand as well. The two have been an adventure team ever since, and began to blog about their journeys on Lucante’s website, “TREKKIN with BRANDON.”

Lucante jokes about bringing physical strength to the team for the challenges along the way, but knows he will be more than just a pack mule.

“I’m open to just about anything, no matter how crazy,” Lucante said. “Aside from that, I bring a passion for adventure that I’ve had ever since I first landed in Australia.”

Mallory McEwen is not a student at Rowan, but a sophomore studying public heath at Montana State University. She met Aran and Lucante while living in Australia. Recognizing their shared passion for traveling, McEwen immediately became friends with the pair.

Lucante reached out to McEwen while looking for a third team member. Knowing nothing about the competition, McEwen changed her winter break plans from visiting her family to meeting up with her friends to enter the competition.

McEwan has a lot of experience traveling, having lived in Indonesia and Australia as well as visiting several other countries. She is also the only one of the three that has traveled to Europe. Although she is slightly worried about navigating and getting stuck, an experience she similarly had when she was 14 years old and lost her debit card while traveling, the thrill of the unknown motivates her.

“I like not knowing and I like being pushed and I like that raw sense of adventure,” McEwan said. “That’s why I do it.”

To enter the race, the “Trekking Trio” had to create a one-minute video about their team and upload it to YouTube for a public vote. The voting period was ten days and each team member did all they could to help promote their video in order to win a spot in the contest.

The group will head to Europe on April 10th. The race starts on April 12th and ends on the 19th.

Red Bull TV will be covering the whole event with footage at the checkpoints, and some of the teams’ journeys will be documented with cameras. Participants are given phones to be used for uploading photos and videos about their journeys so followers can support them along the way.

The winning team of this year’s “Can You Make It” challenge will be invited to become ambassadors for Contiki Travel during the summer. This travel company sells vacation trips that gather groups of 18 to 35 year olds for adventures all over the world.

The “Trekking Trio” say they’re up for the chance of winning the competition, but the thing they look forward to the most is the journey and all the memories it will bring.

“I’m not really too worried— as long as we do somewhat well, get good footage and have an incredible story to tell, I’ll have nothing to complain about,” Lucante said. “Given the nature of the race, I think it’s a safe bet those things will happen.”

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