The Rickshaw Run is an adventure-cum-charity event, in which participants from different countries of the world ride auto-rickshaws through great distances within the Indian sub-continent. The event is organised by a UK-based company called the League of Adventurists International.
The teams without any backup support undertake the tour; nor any specific route is offered. It is up to them to interpret the route and reach the end point within two weeks. The teams are also expected to each raise Â£1000 as charity money, which they do back in their own communities.
The first Rickshaw Run was held between December 2006-January 2007. Around 75 participants from different parts of the world drove their rickshaws from Cochin to Darjeeling, a distance of around 3500 km. They went through cities, towns, villages, jungles, deserts and mountains. Because no accommodation is pre-arranged in the event, participants spent nights sleeping on roadsides, fields, gas stations, and in homes of strangers.
After the event, the rickshaws were donated freely to various non-profit organisations like schools for the physically disabled, and to the local government of north Bengal to be used for health outreach programmes. The money raised by the teams was used to buy a truck for small tea farmers cooperative in Darjeeling hills and set up an office for PLHA (People Living with AIDS).
The second edition of Rickshaw Run concluded in Manali on 8th July. It kicked off from Kolkata on 24 June. 21 teams participated in this event, including a team from India.
The teams included Gayle Bradbury who has brought her father to the Run as his 60th birthday present. The two last reported from Pokhara, Nepal having â€œgreat fun.â€ An Indian team is also for first time taking part in the Run; it includes two women Neha and Shazia along with Akshay their team-mate. There were two journalists in the Run this time â€“ Neha for the Hindustan Times and Melissa Bell for the Guardian.
The League of Adventurists International was set up four years ago with its headquarters in Bristol, UK. The League aspires to provide real adventure â€“ which these days is difficult with guided tours up to Mount Everest â€“ coupled with a charitable purpose. We root for socially-conscious tourism.
The League has so far been organising the Mongol Rally â€“ a rally of a similar concept. Participants have to drive small cars â€“ only below 1000 cc cars are allowed â€“ from Hyde Park, London to Ulan Bator in Mongolia, a distance of over 14,000 km. The event last year raised quarter of a million pounds in charity money.
The League is headed by 27-year-old Thomas Morgan, who also happens to be a big India- buff. The League of Adventurists recently won the Shell Livewire award for the â€œinnovativeâ€ travel company. Next summer there are plans to launch an event where participants will have to ride the length of the Amazon on dugout canoes.
Morganâ€™s ultimate dream is to take the Rickshaw Run from India to London, and also to raise a million pounds yearly for charity through the events.
We are often faced with the question why the auto-rickshaws. According to Lamorna Trahair, Event Manager, the Rickshaw Run, â€œthe auto-rickshaw is the vehicle of choice for the adventure because it tests the participants wits and endurance. It also allows them to see the country in very intimate and personal fashion because they go through back-roads of towns and villages, relying only on the help that comes from the locals. It is the ultimate experience in adventure tourism.â€