The ‘Rickshaw Run’ is the latest offering concocted by the ‘Institute for Adventure Research’, the same people who have hosted the ‘Mongol Rally’ – a car rally from London to Mongolia – for the last 4 years. The concept of the Rickshaw Run is simple; to travel in a team from Kochin in the state of Kerala, a town in the luscious south-west of India, to the historic British hill station town of Darjeeling at the foothills of the Himalayas, in the north-east of India – a journey of over 3,500km – in just 2 weeks. The catch is that it all happens in a rickshaw! These three-wheeled, lightweight Indian vehicles usually functions as taxis, and, to put it mildly, are by no means an example of excellence in engineering . It is usually a challenge just to get down the street in one of these machines! The Rickshaw Run starts on December 27, 2006, and will finish on January 14, 2007.

However, the rickshaw run is a lot more than “an opportunity to break new grounds of silliness” as its website proudly claims, as it also has a large charitable component. Each team that enters the rally needs to buy their rickshaw outright, and this rickshaw is then donated to an indebted family near the finish line to help relieve them of debt and provide them with a livelihood. The philosophy behind it is that it is best to ‘teach a man to fish’; that is, to provide a family with a means of being self-sufficient. Additionally, any funds raised above the amount required to purchase the rickshaw will be donated to other local charities in India. The charitable aspect of the Rickshaw Run is being handled by Mercy Corps, a highly respected and trustworthy international NGO, so one can rest assured that everything will be done in a transparent and legitimate fashion.

Being in its inaugural year, the Rickshaw Run has already turned a lot of heads and is sure to gain a lot of attention in the coming weeks. There are already nearly 30 teams registered and more are expected to join the ranks shortly. For more comprehensive information about the Rickshaw Run, please consult the website at the following address:

Being young, adventurous, and in India with no plans over the holiday break, we can think of no better way to spend our time off than traversing through formidable Indian terrain in a rickshaw, all in the name of charity. Our crew in this long haul to West Bengal will be two ‘brews and a flying Dutchman. More specifically we are 3 NGO workers currently residing in Bombay; Benji Holzman, Robbie Whelan and Rogier Janssen, an Aussie, yank, and Dutchman respectively.

Together we call ourselves the Boondogglers, and we are coming soon to an ashram near you!

(God Help Us!)