Rickshaw Run

Rickshaws racing during Rickshaw Run Rally

When: Twice a year. Summer and Winter.

Where: India

First the crazed minds at The Adventurists brought you the Mongol Rally, now in their second offering they’ve upped the sillyness factor with The Rickshaw Run.

a contestant in the Rickshaw Run drives his trike through the Indian countryside
a Rickshaw passes a man on an elephant in Inda during the Rickshaw Run
an Auto Rickshaw in the Rickshaw Run

This “race” pits you and your 7 horsepower, three wheeled Auto Rickshaw against thousands of miles of terrible roads, jungles, deserts, monsoons and every thing else the Indian subcontinent can throw in your face. Not a very fair match if you ask me!

Teams come from all around the world to participate in this farcical event which begins with a brisk game of cricket, followed by tea and cakes before setting off into the unknown.

In its inaugural run in 2006 thirty-four teams participated, this year there will be nearly double that amount.

The Machines

As part of your entry fee you’ll be supplied with your very own Auto Rickshaw to use for the duration of the race. These vehicles are definitely not the fastest things you’ll ever drive, but they’re guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Controlled via a foot brake, a twist grip accelerator and a gear changer these things are nothing like driving a car or a motorbike. They’re a touch loud and you would be hard pressed to say they protect you from the elements (because they don’t).

It’s basically the ultimate driving machine for short trips in a small town, which of course makes it the perfect choice for a 2,800 mile adventure through some of the highest and hardest terrain on earth.

Distance Pimping

You will of course want your borrowed Rickshaws painted in a variety of cheerful colors and loaded with your sponsor’s logos, so the good people at The Adventurists have enlisted the assistance of some local Indian mechanics. They’ll not only be able to spruce your wheels up with a fresh coat of paint but also install all those essential extras such as a sound system and cricket bat holder.

The Adventurists call this Distance Pimping and all you need to do is email a schematic and paint plot to the Indian body shop and your Rickshaw work of art will be waiting for you when you arrive in India.

The Un-Route

The route of the mighty Rickshaw Run changes every time to make sure it remains a challenge. The organizers plan the routes to take roughly two weeks, but its completely up to you which fork in the road you choose…

You decide just how much adventure the seat of your pants can handle. If you want barren desert, you shall have barren desert, if you want impenetrable jungle it is yours for the taking, if you want to force 150cc of magic up a vast mountain or take a detour to Karachi, so be it.

There are however a few meeting points along the way were you can hook up with your fellow Rickshaw Run buddies for a Gin and Tonic or two.

When the majority of contestants have reached the finish, a winner is decided by arbitrary means and much pomp and hand shaking commences. This is followed by the closing game of cricket and more tea and cakes.


The Rickshaw Run happens four times a year:

WINTER: 1st Jan – 17th Jan

SPRING: 11th Apr – 26th Apr

MONSOON: Septemberish

SUMMER: 1st June – 15th June

Editors Note:
Unfortunately, both the Winter ’09 and Spring ’09 Rickshaw Runs are sold out, the next available Run will be the 2009 Monsoon edition. There is no set date for when registration will open for this event, or for the Summer 2010 Runs, so for the time being you’ll just have to be patient and sign yourself up to the mailing list to stay informed.

A Bargin Basement Adventure!

Rickshaw Run Logo

The Rickshaw Run is probably one of the best deals out there when it comes to Adventure Events. Entering something like The Dakar Rally can cost you upwards of $100,000, Primal Quest Adventure Race is $12,000 just for the entry fee – compare that with my estimate of $8,000 (for two including Airfare from the USA) to participate in The Rickshaw Run and you can see why the spots fill up so quickly.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the costs involved:

Entry fee: $1,120 per team. A team can be as many people as you feel like jamming into your Auto Rickshaw.

Your entry fee includes:

  • Entrance to the one and only Rickshaw Run and an adventure through the east of India and into the depths of Bangladesh! Something to tell your grandchildren about.
  • The use of a rickshaw for the duration of the event, with all the paperwork and bureaucracy taken care of, ready to be pimped to your heart’s content.
  • The launch and finish line events and parties, includes tea, cakes and game of cricket against a local team, which you will no doubt loose.
  • A team page on the Adventurists website with blogs, gallery, a section to promote your sponsors, text message updates and live tracking with Google maps so your friends know where you are even if you don’t.
  • Advice on fund raising, sponsorship and getting press coverage.
  • The Adventurists help and advice getting visas.
  • The Adventurist’s full time head of India branch working night and day to make sure everything is sorted out for you.
  • A rickshaw test driving day (UK only)
  • The Adventurists co-ordinate directly with the charities and will provide a full report on where all your charity money has gone so you keep your sponsors and supporters informed.

Charity donation: $2,000 – The Rickshaw Run is all about raising money for great causes, so each team has to raise $2,000 for charity. This is usually done through fundraising or sponsorship so there is no reason to pay this yourself.

Visas: $60 An easy visa to get.

Gas: Around $200 – Depends on the price of oil, but they are pretty economical.

Food and Accommodation: ??? – If you want to make it free you can sleep in the Rickshaw or camp out along the way. If you want to live it up in hotels that can often also be done at a wide range of costs.

Repairs: You rickshaw has to be handed back in a reasonable condition. So if you break it you’ll need to spend a bit of cash to fix it. However the parts are very cheap and anything but the most major repair (as in a completely squashed rickshaw) can be repaired super cheap… It’s India Folks!

Flights: This depends on where you’re coming from and how far in advance you book it.

All these costs, however, can easily be covered by your ability to fund raise. Any money above and beyond the stuff you procure for the charities can be put towards your costs, as long as you make it very clear to your sponsors where the money is going. This means that with a bit of effort THE RICKSHAW RUN CAN COST YOU NOTHING!

For more information about the race check out the Official Rickshaw Run Website.

If the Rickshaw Run doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, try one of the other Adventurist Events:

The Mongol Rally

Adventurists Rally: Africa

About the Author

CM Burns
CM Burns
CM Burns has been a music video director, a cameraman for Nat Geo, has recorded ancient Tibetan chants in India and swum with whales in Baja, California. Currently living in the Philippines you will find him anywhere Adventure happens.
CM Burns
CM Burns
CM Burns has been a music video director, a cameraman for Nat Geo, has recorded ancient Tibetan chants in India and swum with whales in Baja, California. Currently living in the Philippines you will find him anywhere Adventure happens.
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