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Bahrainis on an epic journey in India for charity

Bahrain News
Sat, 11 Aug 2018
Ghazi Alshehabi
1 of 4

THREE Bahraini thrill-seekers are all set to embark on an epic journey across India as part of a charity run.

The group will travel almost 3,500km – from Jaisalmer, in Rajasthan state in the north, to Kochi, in the southern Kerala state – in a three-wheeled vehicle.

Civil engineer Ahmed Khalifa, accountant Ramzi Abo Owdah and videographer Mazen Adel are teaming up with fellow adventurers from Iceland and Norway for the Rickshaw Run.

The thrice-yearly event is organised by The Adventurists, a UK-based group that manages and runs adventures throughout the world, raising millions of pounds for charity.

Making its debut in 2006, the endurance run on a motorised rickshaw, also known as a tuk-tuk, is held in January, April and August every year.

Even though there is a pre-set path, each team is expected to make its own way towards the destination in two to three weeks by taking any route or detour.

The European group is made up of Icelander blogger and travel writer Nanna Gunnars, Horizons Virtual Reality Productions Studio director Owen Hindley and Norwegian freelance graphic designer Ida Wildhagen.

Travelling in two auto rickshaws, the teams land in India tomorrow and are expected to finish the challenge by
August 26.

The two rickshaws have been designed in Bahrain by Hassanain Sharaf as a dhow and a longship, inspired by the landscape and themes from Bahrain and Iceland.

Before revving up their engines, teams from around the world will gather in Jaisalmer for a cricket match to celebrate the start of the run, while a party will mark the end.

“As much as this is a beautiful journey it’s also terrifying as it is one of the hardest races for amateur adventurers,” said Mr Khalifa, who took part in the run in 2012.

“After this you are a professional rally driver, and a ‘rickshaw-wala’,” he told the GDN.

“Everyone says they want to do something life-changing, such as going on an intercontinental road trip or backpacking through Europe.

“They keep talking but never do anything and then later they think back and regret not doing it.

“After spending three weeks in India I know things about the country better than most Indians, only because of the extreme manner in which I experienced it.”

He said though one plans meticulously for events like this, often the plan goes down the drain in the first 24 hours.

“I remember driving near the Himalayan mountains and I ended up in a British-heritage boarding school.

“I was invited to give a spontaneous talk about what I was doing. The children were amazed and the principal let me spend the night there which helped me save up on hotel costs.

“I got delayed for a day but it was worth it because the next morning I awoke to see Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, and beyond it Mount Everest.”

Mr Khalifa said on his previous run he had to fix the rickshaw on his own numerous times and he had heard a number of people reportedly did not complete the race after their vehicles broke down once too often.

“It happens on every run, because getting lost, getting stuck, having moments of despair or breaking down is an absolute certainty; it is the nature of this endurance race,” he said.

However, he said the journey helped bring team members together and made each participant stronger as they had to rely on one another to get through.

“Even right now I’m asking myself, what are we doing?” said Mr Adel.

“But I think this is something that will be a source of inspiration to our children.

“This a dangerous thing, it’s a real adventure.

“I don’t want to think about the dangers, I just want to take it one day at a time until I get there and then we can take it from there to the finish line.

“I hope we get to the finish line with least amount of losses or damages to us – that’s the motto for this adventure to me, but we will get to the finish line.”

In line with The Adventurist’s charitable initiative the team has been raising money through sponsorship fundraisers and donations to support Cool Earth, the official charity of the event that works to protect the future of rainforests.

The team aims to reach its BD1,000 target by the end of the journey.

To donate go to coolearth.org and search for the ‘Mayhem for the Rainforest!’ campaign.

To follow the local team’s journey across India on their seven horsepower lawnmower engine rickshaws follow The Dhow and The Longship on social media channels.

ghazi@gdn.com.bh

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