The 2016 August Rickshaw Run is over. The streets of Fort Kochi are now returning to normal after the influx of triumphant Runners has ebbed away. Not before Kochi gave them a well deserved send off.
Here's how it all went down from Race Chief, Mr Matt:
We had 72 fabulous teams attempt the mammoth journey from Shillong, and a mightily impressive 71 teams crossed the finish line. One team did throw in the towel - but they did it by ringing their mum and tasking her with informing us they'd dropped out, so they're dead to us.
First across the line were Rickshaw Run veterans 'Team Matador'. The charismatic duo had a riot of a trip and embraced all India had to offer. They slept on floors, they ate in truck stops, and poor Pedro never even managed a change of clothes since the airline lost his luggage. Great effort all round.
Teams roared in thick and fast across the line, some in better states than others. Whatever state their precious rickshaws were in by the time they crossed the line you can be sure that a gigantic smile was upon their delightful, grubby faces.
Following the tradition of getting beaten by the locals in an exhibition cricket match wasn't a problem. Yet again we basked in the glory of defeat as our bails soured through the air gracefully. In all fairness it was actually quite a close match. For once.
The banquet of Keralan cuisine was served and demolished in a heartbeat. The chefs from the ancient Dutch Palace didn't disappoint. It was then time for the Rickshaw Run awards ceremony.
Teams that (probably) deserved being lauded were as follows:
The Dutchjeeling Ltd - Team least likely to make it. Never before have we witnessed such huge people attempting to fold themselves into a rickshaw.
India Pale Males - Best manoeuvre. Harry from the team decided to launch himself from the rickshaw on the road down from Shillong - meaning he completed an unprecedented 1% of the Run before having to going home. To make matters worse when he got home he realised his parents were away and he had no key. Tragically hilarious.
Hello Kiwi - Gluttons for punishment. Lisa and Edward returned for their third Rickshaw Run - will they do it again? "Fuck no" apparently. Let's see, after all they said that last time too.
Late Bloomers - Best pimp. Their self-painted Pikachu rickshaw was well executed, looked cute and they even had the Pokemon theme tune - practically on repeat. How they didn't go mad is beyond us.
Los Pinguinos - Best dressed. They started off looking so dapper, so swish, so delightfully turned out. They wore their black tie every day. Needless to say by the time they got to the finish it wasn't only the ties that were black. Great show.
Buchtrolls - Spirit of the Run. After his two brothers dropped out Guillaume decided to come and drive alone anyway. What's more he managed to notch up an impressive crash tally too - managing to hit practically one of everything he saw. Good show Sir.
Taj Mahalligan - Cool Earth charity award. The lovely family had managed to raise a mind blowing £4,248 at the time of the party making their small, badly painted gold rickshaw trophy worth it's weight in gold.
Olly from team Shah Rick Khan and Nat from India Pale Males received an award each as the toughly fought 'Best Facial Hair' contest was too close to call. Quite how we're not sure as Olly's fine manly upper lip triumph fairly pissed all over Nat's pre-pubescent upper lip embarrassment. Still, well done both.
The finishing party was the usual magnificent example of flat-out debauchery. The teams pretended they were pirates by quaffing rum on the journey over, not that they really had any option as Mr Ricky forcefully poured it down their necks with a gleeful snigger.
Impressive drummers welcomed the boats to the fantastic Bolgatty Palace and then an equally impressive martial arts display wowed the crowd. The bar was heaving as sweaty Runners crowded to take the taste of Mr Ricky's cheap rum away.
Ben from India Pale Males then decided to ignore our warnings and do a highly impressive swan dive - into around a foot of water. His equally impressive gashes and cuts were to be the end of his party as he went off to hospital for the night to get a not-too-shabby 16 stitches. Well done you marvellous idiot.
As Ben was making his way to hospital Nat was passed out pathetically on the lawn, miserably alone and only being paid attention to by the mosquitoes. What with that and their teams mate's tumble from the shaw we decided to rename them 'India Pale Fails'. Well done chaps. Well done indeed.
The mess began in earnest then. Teams jumped around, carried themselves on each others' shoulders, clothes were torn, one couple were doing extremely rude things in the shadows (yes, we all saw you), somebody poured a 20 litre water bottle all over the dance-floor, people moshed, people fell over and a vague smell of distant vomit tinged the air. It was spectacular.
As the teams boarded the boats home they were tired, laughing, soggy, smelling of beer, singing and confessing undying love for fellow Runners they'd met a mere four minutes before. All in all a great success.
Now as the peace descends a few teams are still littered around swapping stories from the road that get bigger with each day.
The Rickshaw Run August 2016 is officially over and was a towering success. Congratulations to all who completely the journey, and a massive thank you to all involved in making this magic happen.
Until next time.
Mr Matt and Team India.
Fond memories from the road
We'll see you at the start line then.