A SHEFFIELD couple have raised £1,200 for charity after taking part in the first Rickshaw Run through the jungles and mountains of south-east Asia.
Adrian and Anita Phillipson drove more than 3,000 km in a tiny three-wheeled motorised vehicle, completing the adventure along “terrifying” roads with 24 of the 28 teams that started.
“We were in fourth position on the final day but the engine blew up and we had to be towed the last 200km across the finish line on the back of a pick-up, so we ended up finishing 14th,” said Adrian.
The couple, who were joined by friend Anjum Khan, travelled under the team name of the People’s Republic of Sheffield and raised £1,200 for Macmillan Cancer Support and Bird Life International.
Over two weeks, teams drove from Jakarta on the Indonesian island of Java, across the island of Sumatra and on to Malaysia and then Thailand. The finish line was moved from Bangkok to Krabi due to the flooding.
“On the whole the roads were terrifying – lots of potholes, up the side of a volcano, big trucks and scary drivers,” said Adrian. “Some of the teams ‘rolled’ their rickshaws, although no-one was hurt, though. We were lucky and managed to keep her upright throughout!”
Adrian, aged 31, a doctor, Anita, 32, a lawyer and Anjum, 31, a doctor in London who studied with Adrian at the University of Sheffield, were driving a rickshaw for the first time, although Adrian and Anjum took part in the Mongol Rally in 2009, travelling across Europe in a ten-year old Suzuki Swift they bought on eBay for £536.
On that occasion, £2,500 was raised for Sheffield Hospitals’ Charity Trust and the Christina Nobel Children’s Foundation, which supports projects in Mongolia.
The rickshaw had its first breakdown on the first day, losing its exhaust. It then proceeded to break down at least three times a day. The rickshaws were allegedly new but seemed to be made from parts from old vehicles.
The couple returned with plenty of memories. “One night we couldn’t find anywhere to stay, and were shown great hospitality and allowed to stay in accommodation at a mosque.”
They were stopped several times by the police – “mainly so that they could have their photos taken with us” – and were chased by an orang-utan during a brief excursion into the Sumatran jungle.
“The highlight of the rally was driving through smaller villages in the middle of the jungle – children rushed out shouting “bajai bajai”, Indonesian for rickshaw,” added Adrian.
“The rickshaw was so slow that the children could run after it – most of them had not seen westerners before and we were somewhat of a novelty. Despite this, most of them seemed to be Manchester United supporters, although I hope we have converted a few to Sheffield Wednesday.”
The Rickshaw Run was organised by the The Adventurists, a UK company dedicated to “making the world less boring” and raising “massive buckets of cash for charities”.