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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Convoy Completing Round-the-World Trek

LONDON - Three Russian trucks left London on the third and final leg of a round-the-world expedition Tuesday, their crew hoping to become the first people to circumnavigate the globe by truck.

If the team arrives in Moscow in February as planned, they will have driven 26,000 kms and crossed 11 national borders. Five out of the seven team members had never been outside of Russia before the expedition.

Stefania Zini, the Italian-born captain of the trucking team and the only female crew member, said she "kept dreaming about driving around the world" three years ago while working at a Moscow-based company importing Italian furniture.

Zini garnered dozens of sponsors and selected her crew of mechanics, truck drivers and engineers during the next few years.

The team left Moscow Feb. 16, headed for Uelen at the northernmost tip of Siberia, where temperatures hovered below -50 Celsius. There were no roads for more than half the trip, and the journey only could be completed in winter while rivers, marshes and bays were frozen.

A videotape made by crew members shows the one-ton ZIL trucks stuck five to six feet deep in the snow, sliding on glassy rivers and sputtering through large ice and snowdrifts. A photo shows Zini with her face peeking out of a hooded parka - her eyelashes, eyebrows and nostrils frozen and glistening with ice.

The crew reached Uelen in April, becoming the first people to travel that route via truck. The trucks were mended during the summer and shipped to Seattle in the fall. From there, the team traveled to Toronto and reached New York City in early January. The trucks were then shipped by boat to the port of Southampton on England's south coast.

Crew member Sergei Serbinov, a truck driver in Yakutia, Russia, said there had been a few problems, such as when a burglar broke into the trucks while they were in Siberia.

"The burglar, he tried to steal the valuables in our living quarters, but he found a box of our Russian vodka," Serbinov said at a press conference at the Russian Embassy in London last week. "He started drinking it and then fell asleep in the truck. So our valuables were safe."

Zini said the Guinness Book of Records had contacted the group about certifying their feat.

She shrugged off any mention of her status as the only female on board.

"Leading any team is always going to be very difficult," said Zini, who also has been on long-distance vehicle treks to Nepal, Indonesia and Australia. "As far as voyages and trips, I cannot live without them. I need an escape. When I am home, I miss the voyages. It is difficult to come back to normal life after all of this."