The rickshaw was invented in Japan many yonks ago as a means of cheap public transport. Not so great for the poor bugger who had to pull the thing, they developed over time to bicycle-shaws, but hell that seemed like a lot of effort too. And so one of the three guys who are thought to have invented the thing (because no one’s quite sure who actually did) was sitting on his back porch gazing at his bonsai trees and his eyes fell upon his lawnmower sitting demurely on the grass.

And then it clicked. Lawnmower plus cycle-shaw = auto-shaw, which means minimal human effort and maximum speed.

Enter the Adventurists who decided to stage a charity rickshaw run in India. Exotic location: check. Impossibly frustrating mode of transport: check. Helping people in the process: check. Adventure: double check.

And now they have 60 teams of four competing in a race from south to north India, all in the name of good causes. Two such teams are Get it India led by Josephine Duke and Keep Calm & Curry On led by Tegan Williams. These two teams of young, bold Aussies are defying the odds to race to the finish and raise some coin for the Motor Neuron Research Institute of Australia. Most of the team work in the medical sector, and Jo lost her aunt and grandmother to the disease, so they are keen to make a difference.

Motor Neuron Disease is a degenerative condition that slowly shuts down your muscles. Ever heard of Stephen Hawkins and the Big Bang Theory? – he is afflicted with this horrible disease. Sufferers lose their ability to use their hands first, then their ability to speak and slowly their entire body shuts down until they are wheelchair bound and completely incapacitated. Cases vary but the disease usually results in death within 3-5 years and the deterioration of the person in that time is tragic.

So the teams are trying to help. Stoke Travel is sponsoring them, ’cause there’s nothing they like more than absurd adventure, especially if it has a good cause. The race starts on January 1st (no better way to start a rickshaw race than with a massive hangover) and will run for roughly two weeks following the 3,500km route from Kochi (Cochin) way down south of India all the way up to Jaisalmer in the northwest corner of the country. That’s a whole lot of tiger and snake-filled jungle, sari and slum-filled city and wide open dirt road to cover.

You can follow the Stoke teams here or here and if you’re keen to give a bit of coin to the cause, you can do so here and help to give these glorified lawnmowers a fighting chance to advance the progress for a cure or aid for Motor Neuron sufferers.