A UK adventure firm has taken their unwanted race equipment and turned it into a brand new playground for children in India.
The charity project, just completed, is the brainchild of Rat Race Adventure Sports, who run outdoor events across the world.
Back in 2016, they hosted a race in Brisbane, Australia, and found themselves with £25,000 worth of leftover gear, held in shipping containers.
Rather than see it go to waste, they shipped the gear – which included cargo nets, scaffolding and tyres – to Malur, Karnakata Province.
And a team – which included members from Rat Race, and plant, tools and equipment hire firm GAP Group – have now travelled from Britain to India to construct the park themselves.
Jim Mee, founder of Rat Race and who was one of those who spent a week in India working in the hot sun, says he’s delighted with the results.
Jim, based near York, said: “A couple of years ago we ran a series of obstacle events in Australia. And when the series ended, we were left with a container full of incredible obstacles – but which were stuck on the other side of the world.
“It seemed a waste to scrap the gear and dispose of it in an un-environmentally sound way, so we set to work on finding a new use for it.
“It was tough work constructing the playground. But we rounded-up an incredible team to help with the build and we’re proud of the results.
“Most importantly, the local kids seem to love it too!”
The container of obstacles set sail from Brisbane for Mumbai in July 2018.
The whole project represents a £50,000 investment from Rat Race and GAP, who also partnered with the charities ‘Playground Ideas’ and ‘Headstreams’, who helped to choose the location for the project.
Jim adds: “There’s real satisfaction in constructing a playground, because you just know the joy it’s going to give to potentially thousands of children.
“It’s been a really special project to be involved in and we’re grateful for everyone’s support in pulling it off.”
A spokesperson for Playground Ideas said: “Play is fundamental to a child’s ability to fully develop, and it’s also a key tool for learning.
“The Rat Race team was fantastic.
“Their motivation and drive to see the project to fruition, regardless of the hurdles, was inspiring.
“I can’t wait to do another one!”
Daimon Dunhue is Event Services Division Manager for GAP and joined the build team in India.
He said: “It was inspiring to be a part of a team from all different nationalities and backgrounds, pulling together to build the playground.
“Seeing the children playing on it the day before we left really capped it off. It was a great experience and something I will definitely not forget.”
It’s not the first time Rat Race has lent its support to children in need.
Rat Race participants are encouraged to raise sponsorship money for their partner charity ‘Children with Cancer UK’ – and if they hit a certain target, they’re given free race entry.
Meanwhile a portion of the entry fee from other racers also automatically goes to Children with Cancer UK, too.
And in February this year Rat Race announced they’d £1,000,000 for the charity – who invest money for vital specialist research to ‘save the lives of every child with cancer and keep their families together’ – having first set that goal in 2015.
Meanwhile, The playground project caps a year of globe-trotting and excitement for Jim and the Rat Race team, whose roster of events include everything from ultra-marathons to multi-sport, multi-day journeys across some of the world’s wildest spaces.
And as company chief, Jim has put his money where his mouth is in 2018, as he looks to take the Rat Race brand into new global territories.
Jim – and a team of Rat Race ‘test pilots’ – recently performed a series of ‘recce’ trips ahead of the events being launched to the general public.
In the last twelve months, he’s become the first person to cross a vast frozen lake in Mongolia on ice skates, he’s traversed the Panama Canal, he’s crossed the Namib desert on a bike, and he and his colleagues also pioneered a new route through the uninhabited jungles of Central America.
He adds: “It’s been something of a momentous year for Rat Race, as we add more and more exciting, once-in-a-lifetime adventures to our ever-expanding roster.
“And we’re all excited for what 2019 will bring, as we ready ourselves to debut our exciting new international races for the very first time.
“Watch this space.”