Dramatic start to tuk-tuk run

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After a rocky start, Arrowtown couple Lisa and Edward Guy have finally begun an epic journey across India in a motorised rickshaw.

When the Otago Daily Times phoned the Guys on Tuesday, they had already endured a bungled visa application, deportation from India and a “near divorce”.

Yet they had covered not one of the 3000km they need to negotiate in an open-sided, seven horsepower rickshaw.

For the second year in a row, they will spend 11 days dodging trucks, buses, cows and camels on the Rickshaw Run, an unrouted and unsupported journey across the sub-continent in a two-stroke taxi probably best known to New Zealanders by their Thai name of tuk-tuk.

They hope to finish the journey in the eastern Indian city of Shillong on April 18.

Speaking from the event’s start line in Jaisalmer in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, Lisa Guy says they were supposed to head off on Monday with the 85 other teams.

However, after she “stuffed up the visa application”, they were deported to Singapore immediately after arriving in India. They toyed with the idea of abandoning the event and having a comfortable holiday elsewhere in the world.

“But then we realised that so much of this is about raising money, and that is what made us feel good about doing it.”

They are supporting endangered rainforests charity Cool Earth and depression charity Live More Awesome.

“Live More Awesome is very personal to us because of depression in our families, with employees and with ourselves.”

Leaving their three school-aged daughters in the care of family back home, they had decided to return to India after falling in love with the country last year.

“The last day of the last run at sunrise, I cried in the back of the tuk-tuk because I thought this can’t be over – this is the most amazing way to travel and get to know a country and meet its people.”

Lisa Guy says missing Monday’s start proved to be a blessing after the other teams were hit by a sandstorm, an electrical storm and then flooding.

However, the distance they would need to cover each day had “gone through the roof” to more than 300km. The rickshaws could cover about 50km an hour at best, and had to be rested every 100km so their engines could cool down.

To follow the couple’s progress, and for links to the charities they are supporting, see their “Rickshaw Run Team Speedy Kiwi” Facebook page.