What can you tell us about The Adventurists?
In a nutshell, we are about making life less boring! Our world is getting more controlled by boundaries and boxes, and people are forced to go on crappy Instagram inspired holidays and all this sort of shit nowadays, it’s disgusting. Health and safety is now paramount, and you book into a hotel and something isn’t quite right, you complain to your travel agent, it’s just all nonsense. So we put people in situations where they would never normally go on their own, pushing them to their limits, interacting with local people and working out how they are going to get themselves unstuck when they get stuck. We really do this in an old school way, for many reasons –
A – It’s bloody good fun, B – It’s adventurous, C – You actually learn something, and get in touch with the places you visit, and the people you meet along the way. Rather than what seems to happen is you get stuck on a bus, ferried from the airport to your all-inclusive resort, you stay there for two weeks and then get ferried back to the airport and you come home. What’s the point! There’s just no point to this! You’ve not seen anything, you’ve not met anyone, you might have gone on an excursion somewhere following some twat around waving a flag… We’re completely the opposite of that, we want people to go out there and get lost, get stuck, we want them to breakdown in the middle of nowhere mentally and physically and just overcome it and come out the other side with the achievement under their belt and a big grin smeared across their face.
The idea of throwing people in many places totally unprepared for the road ahead of them must create some issues too, do you ever find people getting into serious trouble?
I think given the situations, it’s not as significant an issue as people would perhaps imagine. For example, 90% of people on a Rickshaw Run finish on time and generally without major incident. I think people are naturally more aware of what they’re doing and take more care because they are so far out of their comfort zone. Although they are dangerous events, we thankfully get very little major incidents. Plenty of little scrapes though!
I guess also some of your newer events like the Icarus Trophy are more niche events which require a greater skillset to take part in. Also looking at the Rickshaw run in the Himalayas, taking the template of what has taken place in India and Sri Lanka and taken that into a far more remote region with far less support or safety. These are also pretty alien vehicles for the area too, so not even the familiarity of mechanics skills to get back up and running again.
Not really there’s not much up there! Which is nice. On the Himalayan one we do give them a pretty hefty bag of spares, and stuff like that, so if they do breakdown, there’s some chance they can get back on the road, as the chances of finding an autorickshaw repair shop is almost zero! They’ll always find someone who’s handy with a spanner. They are pretty simple machines.
Do you vet people for that trip, do you only accept people who have perhaps some adventure travel experience?
We used to have it that people who had done the Rickshaw Run could take part, but found it narrowed it down a bit too much. We went in pretty heavy with the whole “you’re only a centimetre from death the whole way” and I think we scared people off a little bit! So we’ve removed the vetting and are going a little less on the “you’re almost definitely going to die” marketing we’d originally gone with. But people do need to say why they are suitable for it, and give us some examples of adventure experience. What we don’t want is a load of people up there, who think of it as a race and driving about like lunatics, because the roads are dangerous up there, there’s no denying that. I personally don’t think it’s any more dangerous than the original Rickshaw Run as an event because there’s very real risks on both events, they’re just very different. You’ve got the chaos in India of the traffic, dogs, goats and all of that shit, but up on the Himalayas you’ll come across some trucks and busses and that, but you’re often on your own. The road condition itself is the danger.
I guess it’s also about preparation? Unlike some of your events like the Monkey Run, where people seem completely unprepared for the trip and often look like they’ve just rocked up from the pub, in completely inappropriate clothes for the trip ahead. It amazes me that they have managed to persevere with such little preparation. I guess that’s a little different up in the Himalayas!
Yeah sure, it is different, but there is such a thing as too much preparation. They do have shops, you can get things if you really need them. Local people do get by. You might struggle for shoes in Peru if you have big feet, but apart from that you can get what you need. It’s not a bad thing to do a bit of preparation, but if you do too much preparation then you’re taking away aspects of the adventure. If you’re completely self-sufficient, you have a way to solve absolutely every problem you could face without having to interact with anyone then you’ve done too much and you’re kind of missing the point there. It’s good to make plans, but it’s critical for those plans to be flexible.