Wacky races in India

Kincardine O’Neil man Bill Sutherland and his Chicago friend Pat Moon are getting ready for an Indian adventure in aid of a charity close to Bill’s heart.

The pair are planning a marathon 3,500 kilometre race from Jaisalmer in North India to Cochin in the South, and they are doing it on nothing but a motorized rickshaw.

Bill’s grandson, Walter Sutherland-Thomson, was born in February this year and spent his first weeks in the Neonatal unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, as a thank you to the skilful doctors and the dedication of the nurses in the unit they are doing the run to raise funds for the “Friends of the Special Nursery – Neonatal Aberdeen”.

The big-hearted pair will also donate a percentage of the monies to the “Frank Clean Water project” which will provide clean water to the villages they pass through.

The Tuk-Tuk, as the vehicles are known locally, uses a miniscule 145cc engine pushing 7 horse power on three tiny wheels.

Bill describes the machine as: “undoubtedly the least suitable vehicle to cross the Indian sub-continent.”

He said they were “essentailly a lawnmower on wheels.”

Scotland will be represented on the journey with a Saltire flying proudly on the hood of the tiny vehicle.

The idea came to Bill as a way to raise funds to thank the doctors for helping his grandson: “They were so good in helping Walter that I felt we had to do something. He didn’t have the easiest start to life and hopefully any money we raise will help other kids in that condition,”

In the style of a Top Gear challenge- the start and finish points of the race are set but how the pair get to the end is up to them.

Bill expects the journey to take about twelve days to complete.

Long term friends Bill and Pat first met through another eccentric racing hobby of theirs- dog sledding.

Bill said: “I first started racing sled dogs here in Scotland about eight years ago, I went over to Alaska to race in 2009 and met Pat there. He’s from Chicago and really is one-of-a-kind, we got on pretty much straight away.”

A year later the two embarked on another adventure, this time to the heart of Siberia: “The next year we went sledding in Russia, I can’t remember the exact name of the town but it was about 500 miles North-east of Moscow. It was cold to say the least! We had nights of -40 and -50 degrees.”

“We’d had enough of the cold so we said: ‘let’s do this somewhere that’s +40 degrees rather than -40!’”

There will be no time for any Hogmanay drams this year as the race begins at 12 noon on December 31.

Bill and Pat’s Tuk Tuk will have a tracker fitted so sponsors, friends and family can follow their progress through India.

To donate or find out more information visit: virginmoneygiving.com/rickshawrun2013.