University graduates heading for the ride of a lifetime

April 10, 2019

University graduates heading for the ride of a lifetime

Two Kiwis fresh out of university will taking part in the 2000km Rickshaw Run, taking them right across India. Photo: The Adventurists

Two university graduates are heading off with a small party of friends to take part in India’s infamous Rickshaw Run.

The run will see Claudia Silva and Yohann Irani across India for three weeks driving automatic rickshaws.

The rickshaw is a three-wheeled, seven-horsepower cart developed from the traditional pulled or cycle rickshaws.

“I heard about this race when I watched JacksGap, a group of British YouTubers who did the race together,” Ms Silva said.

“Yohann and I have been friends since we were 15 and near the end of high school, I remember catching up with him and talking about India and how I should come over sometime. What better way to do that than to do this race?”

At 2000km, with no set route and no-back up, the run doesn’t guarantee a finish. The race starts in the city of Jaisalmer, in the north-west of India before finishing in Kochi, on the coast of south India.

“My mum went to India when she was my age and I’d grown up hearing the wild stories and how much she’d loved it.

“So, I really wanted to go and do this race because it looked fun, crazy and a bit stupid,” Ms Silva said.

India-born Mr Irani said he always wanted to travel after he finished university.

“Claudia did a lot of the organising, so when the idea of doing this run in India came up, I couldn’t pass.”

Needing to commit to the run a year in advance, the planning process was strenuous. After some people dropped out and some jumped in, the group was finalised at seven.

“We were pretty picky on who we invited to come with us because the conditions can be pretty stressful in a country most of us have never been to and only Yohann could speak the native language,” Ms Silva said.

The two students have been fundraising for charity in preparation of the race. Ms Silva is fundraising for Women’s Refuge New Zealand and Mr Irani is fundraising for Cool Earth.

Women’s Refuge focuses on preventing and stopping family violence in New Zealand. Cool Earth is a non-profit group that protects rainforests from deforestation and climate change.

They are both in India already, looking to get acclimatised before the race begins on April 11.

“I’m looking forward to meeting other rickshaw runners from other teams, eating all types of Indian food and playing cricket with the kids on the street,” Mr Irani said.

Never having been to India, Ms Silva has gone with an open mind.

“It’s simple but I don’t know what to expect of the rickshaws or the country we will be travelling in. But I know that we’re all going to have a lot of laughs.”

The first Rickshaw Run was in 2006, and it has been running every year since.

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