A group of buoyant sheep shearers from New Zealand are among adventure seekers from different countries who began their 4,000-km Fort Kochi-Shillong journey by autorickshaw on Sunday.

They would compete with about 60 other teams in the ‘Rickshaw Run’ organised by The Adventurists.

Team leader Henry Balfour claimed that he began driving a car at the age of four, and hence the three-wheeler drive through alien and difficult terrain in the Indian subcontinent was a cakewalk. “The rickshaw was serviced yesterday and its engine overhauled. It is in top condition and ready for the adventure,” he said, pointing to the all-black vehicle.

The luggage carrier atop the vehicle is stuffed with basic necessities. The only extra fittings are a pair of fog lamps beneath the windshield and a music system fitted behind the rear seat.

Several brightly-painted autos were neatly parked in a walled compound near Parade Ground where many team members, including women, practised driving them. Elsa from South Africa was thrilled about the two-week-long adventure run that would take them through “a wonderful, colourful country that offers a variety of food”.

She was searching online for adventure when she spotted ‘Rickshaw Run’. “Indian traffic is the worst in the world and I’m sure negotiating roads will be real hard during the first few days. Most of us are scared of (rashly driven) trucks and buses. Still, rickshaws are the best way to experience India,” she said.

“We purchased the rickshaws from Bajaj, for the three annual trips — Kochi-Shillong, Shillong-Kochi and Kochi-Rajasthan,” said Ricky of The Adventurists that organises different adventure programmes. The adventure enthusiasts volunteered despite the organisers giving them notice that the run could be risky.