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Drive of lifetime for Rickshaw Run trio

PUBLISHED: 15:30 14 May 2010 | UPDATED: 17:22 06 July 2010

Gautam Kumar, Tom Powell and Akshay Kumar taking part in this year's Rickshaw Run.

Gautam Kumar, Tom Powell and Akshay Kumar taking part in this year's Rickshaw Run.

IT was the sort of wacky race you might have expected Dick Dastardly to have entered, and the thrill-fuelled trip to India certainly proved memorable for three Norwich City fans from Lowestoft.

IT was the sort of wacky race you might have expected Dick Dastardly to have entered, and the thrill-fuelled trip to India certainly proved memorable for three Norwich City fans from Lowestoft.

Former Norwich School pupils Akshay Kumar, 31, his brother Gautam Kumar, 29, a junior doctor, and businessman Tom Powell, 29, ran into electrical storms, had a confrontation with an elephant, and spent the night at a ranger station after breaking down during the Rickshaw Run.

For almost two weeks the trio encountered it all as they travelled the 4,000 km from Kochi in the south of India to Gangtok in the north and high in the Himalayas - in a 145cc rickshaw called Jenny painted in Canary colours.

And while they saw it all on their intrepid trip across the Indian subcontinent - which helped raise more than £2,000 for three charities, including Lowestoft-based Help an East Coast Child - the team faced their biggest challenge trying to return home following the flights chaos caused by ash from the Icelandic volcano.

Akshay, who is now back in London where he is studying for an MBA, said: “It's certainly the riskiest thing I've ever done. In our first week, we'd driven down the mountain pass between Nepal and Bhutan, the most beautiful but most dangerous road I've ever seen. We only just missed being part of a collision between two huge lorries.

“It's been an amazing experience we'll never forget - we've raised £2,000 for charity, and certainly come back with renewed confidence to take more risk in a business or work context.”

The Tag Team, who flew a Norwich City flag from their rickshaw, finished 17th out of 70 teams.

Just a day into the action-packed trip they experienced some jungle driving, a breakdown and an electrical storm. Akshay said: “It was the heaviest rain I have seen for many years, lightning flashing all around, and the loudest thunderclaps I have ever heard, and a scary ride. The impending darkness and no headlights made for three scared rickshaw runners.

“We opted to stay the night at a kind ranger's station, as it was near where we broke down and provided shelter. The adventure had definitely begun.”

The remainder of the trip continued in similar fashion with plenty of incidents - and breakdowns - along the way, including coming across a wild elephant on the second day.

Akshay said: “We made it 100 metres before nearly driving straight into an elephant - 'run away, run away' - and run away we did. It took nearly half an hour before we felt brave enough to venture around the corner and drive on.”

The adventure also helped raise money for Frank Water Projects, which has funded 32 clean water plants in India, and the Mercy Corps project helping those living in one of the poorest parts of India.

Akshay said: “It was an amazing fortnight and certainly an adventure I'll never forget.”

To find out more, log on to www.tagteamindia.com.

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