Under starter’s orders for marathon rickshaw race

Adrian and Anite Phillipson who are taking part in a Rickshaw race from Indonesia to Thailand
Adrian and Anite Phillipson who are taking part in a Rickshaw race from Indonesia to Thailand

A SHEFFIELD couple are preparing to carry the name of the city through the jungles and mountains of south-east Asia.

Adrian and Anita Phillipson are joining the first Asian Rickshaw Run from Jakarta in Indonesia to Bangkok in Thailand, aiming to drive 2,500 miles in a tiny three-wheeled motorised vehicle.

They will be joined by friend Anjum Khan under the team name of the People’s Republic of Sheffield and are looking to raise at least £2,000 for charity.

For Adrian and Anjum, it will be a follow-up to taking part in the Mongol Rally in 2009 in which they used the same name when they drove 10,000 km across Europe to the capital of Mongolia, Ulan Baatar, in a ten-year old Suzuki Swift they bought on eBay for £536.

“It’s just an adventure,” said Adrian, of the latest mission. “There’s no personal goal. We were getting itchy feet after two years, and we’ll see more of the countries driving through, or breaking down, than if we went by bus.”

Thirty teams from across the world are joining the Rickshaw Run in which entrants choose their own route via Sumatra, Singapore and Malaysia. There is no back-up or support, and the idea is to finish in Bangkok two weeks after the start on October 16.

Rickshaws being thin on the ground in Sheffield, the trio will have to wait until they get to Indonesia to get their hands on their precarious mode transport.

“None of us have driven one before but we’ll get a day’s practice before we go on our way,” said Adrian, a doctor, aged 31.

“It will be an incredible squeeze. We’ll have to carry our luggage on the roof. I’m not sure we’ll have any room for spare parts.”

Anita, also 31, is a lawyer and Anjum, 31, is a doctor in London who studied with Adrian at the University of Sheffield.

The Mongol Rally was “incredible fun, although it involved a great amount of driving for 12 to 14 hours a day,” added Adrian. “The roads were worse than we imagined but everybody was incredibly friendly. When we broke down we somehow found a way of getting through it.”

On that occasion, £2,500 was raised for Sheffield Hospitals’ Charity Trust and the Christina Nobel Children’s Foundation, which supports projects in Mongolia.

This time money will be raised for Macmillan Cancer Support and Bird Life International, a group of conservation organisations working together for the world’s birds and people.

The Rickshaw Run is organised by the The Adventurists, a UK company dedicated to “making the world less boring” and raising “massive buckets of cash for charities”, which backed the Mongol Rally.

Working in association with the Association of South East Asian Nations and the Indonesian government, it describes the latest venture as “the sweatier, junglier cousin of its Indian namesake”.

Adrian said: “We are not well organised at the moment but I am now finishing work and the planning will get a lot better.”

The Sheffield team is looking for support from local businesses who want their name carried across south east Asia. Adrian has a Just Giving internet site, www.justgiving.com/sheffieldrickshaw and can be contacted at thepeoplesrepublicofsheffield@yahoo.co.uk.