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Sunday 11th March 2018

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By Annabelle Latz

It still rings clear as a bell in his head, the day Todd Vickery stepped into Adventure Racing.
The journey started in 2016, from his Brisbane white-collared corporate world office.
“I had never heard of the sport. I was sitting at work and got text from a mate saying; ‘Hey there’s this race coming up, do you want to have a go?’ I remember texting back and saying ‘Yeah, that sounds good, when is it?’ Then I googled What’s Adventure Racing.”
Vickery is a director and driver of A1 Racing, an Adventure Racing series currently in Australia and New Zealand, and soon to be launched in South Africa.

Vickery spent a few days at GODZone Chapter 7 following the progress of the Australian A1 teams Thunderbolt, Hardtale, Rorange, AR Pilgrams, CBRAR – ROGUE and Mont Adventure Racing, plus sponging up as much knowledge as he could from the GODZone creators.
“I’m here at GODZone to see how the best do it; they are excellent at running events. Seeing almost every element of GODZone is a great learning experience for how we can work on and improve what we are doing,” said Vickery.
His message for the inspired is a simple one.
“If you sit and think too much about it, you’ll never do it. You’ve got to just have a go, if you like adventure. Grab your mates, have a go.”
With fellow A1 Director Warren Bates (GODZone Event Director) to tune into, and South Africa Ambassador for A1 Graeme Bird, to follow as he races with South African team Merrell, Vickery has no starvation of inspiration.
“Personally it’s the pinnacle. It’s certainly got the toughest field. Kiwis are at another level. GODZone is complex and challenging. And you know you get the best teams in the world, here.”
When you click on the A1 website now, the entry path into Adventure Racing all seems rather straight forward.But the journey to creating this website involved a lot of hard, but rewarding, work.
Vickery would be the first to admit he’s come into the sport “literally from zero.”
Before his first race in 2016, with a specking of involvement in the largely followed off-road triathlon community in Australia, he was surprised the platform of accessible information for Adventure Racing in Australia didn’t resonate.
“The sport was nearly allusive,” he said.
Vickery initially thought he had to be elite to do Adventure Racing.
“There’s always been a lot of banter about if it’s an elite sport or not. It’s clearly the opposite. You need everyone to do this sport, it’s about going and getting lost in the woods and having fun.”
He was hooked straight away, the whole idea of the unknown, the team factor.
“It’s about being able to lose yourself,” said Todd.
To date, the longest race he’s completed is a 48-hour, the GeoQuest in central New South Wales.
Vickery says he’d love to have a crack at GODZone one day, once he’s got a few more shorter races under his belt.
He’s never going to grace a podium; his passion is in providing the vehicle that encourages more people the accessibility to get involved in this sport, and allow the emerging and top teams to continue to strive for excellence.
“Very soon after getting involved, I saw there was momentum in Australia around putting something together. People are crying out for it, getting out there and being pushed, so we’re giving them the opportunity to try that,” he said.
Vickery wanted to lost the ‘old boys’ club’ mentality, where if you don’t know someone involved, you can’t get in.
“But we don’t want to lose the mystique. We want to open the door a little bit so people can get in.”
Thus, A1 was born, with two fundamental goals.
One was to collaborate with the race directors from the various Adventure Races that were taking place around Australia, to create an Adventure Racing series on a domestic level that would be attractive for both the top racers, and those who wanted to get involved.
“You needed to capture that – celebrate the elite teams, but also capture the spirit of those getting out there and giving it a crack.”
The other goal was to create a website with all the key information for those who wanted to learn and get involved in the sport, and be part of something bigger.
“It wasn’t about preaching to the converted, it about how can we get other people to experience this awesome lifestyle, who may not be aware of it…. it’s about building the confidence for people to get out there and give it a go, having a resource to do that – providing the series, the platform, feeling like you can be part of something, then the pathways start to open.”
Vickery said GODZone is the pinnacle of Adventure Racing, although a lot of people in the sport never aspire to do any longer than 48-hour races.
“This is a niche market A1 aspire to be a part of.”
He said Kiwis could write the book on Adventure Racing, with the ‘learn and play outside mentality’ the great access to the outdoors, and solid involvement at the club level.

“Seeing all those teams in one place. from racing legends to first timers, they were all standing together. That was a highlight for me at GODZone, being in awe at the start line.”

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