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It may have been the year of the goldfish in other parts of the world but here in Les Basses Beaumettes it was the year of the big blisters. Ulric entered a competition called the X-Alps and put his wife Ruth’s signature on the form as his team mate.
The BBC immortalised the blisters, the rain and the grumpy little Italian pilot who kept trying to overtake us in a film called, ‘The X-Alps, the World’s Most Extreme Race’, shown on BBC 2 on October 30th. Ten minutes into the film, as we sipped our champagne, knowing that the stresses of the summer were over and that we could rest on our laurels (and Oscars hopefully), and look forward to a quiet Christmas and New Year, the phone rang. It was our dear friend Bob Drury (team Jaldi Wallas), giggling hysterically down the telephone, to tell us that he just had entered us for a competition called the Rickshaw Run, a 4500km race with seventy competitors, all driving their own auto-rickshaws – a vehicle with three wheels, handle bars and a top speed of 55kph, possibly faster if going down hill with nobody in it.
The race started on the 1st of January 2008 from Cochin, Kerala right in the southern tip of India. It then went up the entire length of India, through the back roads, to finish in Kathmandu, Nepal on the 16th of January. We had been practicing for the Rickshaw run by studying how the French take the racing line, then jumping out of the way just before they collide with us. More information about the race can be found here. Also, BBC Outdoors followed our progress on their website. Check it out for photos and Ruth's inimitable commentary as we wound our way through the Indian countryside. Finally, there is our own account, with lots of photos, here.
As well as having a lot of fun, we are raising money for the charity, Mercy Corps. Founded in 1979, the Mercy Corps’s aim is to help people to help themselves. Today, Mercy Corps is working in India to build community collaboration and fulfil dire health and economic needs. The Himalayan foothills around Darjeeling, are home to some of the world's finest teas - and some of Asia's poorest families. Therefore the Rickshaw Run focuses on five projects in particular in that area. Check out their website for more details.
“Thank goodness they did the X-Alps, as a practice, this sounds much, much worse”, confided close family member Haggis, over a bowl of Whiskas.