Darjeeling brought to a standstill by finale of Rickshaw Run charity adventure

The streets of Darjeeling came to a standstill today when 31 teams from round the world held a parade through the heart of the hill station to celebrate completing the .travel sponsored Rickshaw Run charity adventure.

Many of the local population were amazed the tiny 150cc three-wheelers had even made it up the steep hill to the town. The arrival procession, led by a marching band, marked the end of the intense driving adventure that
began in Cochin, in the southern state of Kerala, on the 28th December.

34 teams from 7 different countries set out to tackle the sub-continent in a vehicle destined to break down on the wild Indian terrain. In less than two weeks 30 teams made it to Darjeeling*, encountering regular mechanical
disasters, shocking roads littered with craters, off-road mountain tracks, jungles, freezing fog, brushes with the law, chaotic traffic and even the occasional brush with other vehicles on the notorious highways.

The exhausted, dirty and sweaty teams all chose their own route, and were entirely responsible for all aspects of the journey, with no back-up or support of any kind provided. The result is unanimous: every team raved about their Rickshaw Run across India:

Claire Andrews, from London UK, said:

“I can’t quite believe what we just did! I’ve been to India many times before but on this trip I’ve seen a whole lot more of the country and visited parts where no tourists have ever been.”

Chris Pelly, from Wiltshire, UK, added:

“I had an awesome trip. The highlight for me has been the generosity and kindness of the people we’ve met along the way. Although I’m knackered and a touch smelly I’m delighted to be standing here on the finish line in one

The Rickshaw Run was created and organised by the Institute of Adventure Research. Managing Director, Tom Morgan, who also took part in the Run, said:

“For many months people have been telling me the Rickshaw Run was not possible, so I have to say I’m delighted and a little smug to be standing here with 30 teams who all arrived in the two weeks. This is the first ever Rickshaw Run and while I knew it would be a great adventure, I had a lot more fun than I expected. The event has been a huge success, raising over £35,000 for charity.

“Before the teams had even finished we started getting emails from people round the world asking how to sign up for the next one. We are going to make it even harder though, spanning pretty much the whole of the Himalayan range. The details will be released on our website along with other events, like the Mongol Rally, which challenges teams to drive from London to Mongolia in sub 1-litre cars.”

The Rickshaws will be distributed to poor families in West Bengal in conjunction with a local partner. The families will be able to use the Rickshaw as a taxi and avoid the difficulties so often caused by high rentalfees or expensive loans. The extra funds raised by the teams will be donated to Darjeeling Earth Group, an Indian NGO.

The money will contribute to a project working to bring small private organic tea farmers together to increase their standard of living, quality of production and chances for a successful future. Short term goals include doubling the farmer’s annual income, which can be as low as $87, while long term goals extend all the way to establishing tea processing
plants, all in an effort to build a sustainable future for people in incredibly poor rural areas.

The first ever Rickshaw Run is sponsored by .travel, the top-level Internet domain exclusively dedicated to businesses, organisations and individuals in the travel and tourism industry (for example: “rickshawrun.travel” or “london.travel”.)

.travel is designed specifically for the travel and tourism industry, ensuring that all .travel web sites are hosted by bona fide travel-related
businesses/organizations only. The mission of .travel is to represent every valid travel and tourism entity online to expand the breadth and depth of offerings available to the Internet community and serve not only travel consumers around the world, but the travel industry as a whole.

*The four teams that didn’t make it to Darjeeling decided to finish early either because they ran out of time or for personal reasons. All the auto rickshaws were capable of continuing!

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Name: Dan Wedgwood