Adventure 1 and World Obstacle Partnership and the Founding of “Obstacle Australia”
An Association being created to represent and promote adventure and obstacle athletes and events.
All parties of interest are invited to join (for free!) and volunteer to promote and help guide the sports.
A new era for Adventure Racing has begun with the partnership between Adventure 1 and World Obstacle and the establishment of an Adventure Racing Governing Body in Australia: Obstacle Australia. The background and reasoning behind this initiative are detailed below. To register for free membership or become more actively involved, click on the link below.
About Adventure 1
Adventure 1 (A1) is the premier not-for-profit event promoter for adventure racing worldwide. With the goal of assisting the growth and management of the sport of adventure racing, it coordinates a series of national and international adventure racing events. Born in 2017 with a national adventure racing series in Australia, A1 has expanded to New Zealand, South Africa and is working with new international partners as part of the global A1 World Cup.
On its journey to provide a coordinated approach to the sport with wider official international recognition, Adventure 1 announced a partnership in late 2021 with World Obstacle, formally referred to as FISO (the Fédération Internationale de Sports d’Obstacles. With the support of World Obstacle, A1 will run the first world cup of 24+ hour adventure races, culminating with the World Cup Final in New Zealand in December 2022, and the A1 World Championship in 2023.
A partnership between adventure racing and World Obstacle
A key step for adventure racing to achieve recognition at an international level is for the sport to include a governance structure. This non-government body needs to form as a democratic, federative association with national member federations in each country countries. As an association, it must represent all stakeholders including athletes, event staff, race directors and other key partners. With the support of World Obstacle, this process has now begun in Australia and joins national member federations of FISO in 110 countries with the vision of growing the sport of adventure racing nationally and internationally.
Adventure racing, obstacle course racing and Ninja sports share common sport functions and governance provided by World Obstacle in the same manner as the sports of Athletics, Aquatics, Cycling and Canoeing. The partnership is built upon common goals, objectives and global direction. Similarly, the sport disciplines of trail running, sprints, marathon, pole vault and shot put, mutually benefit from common governance under the World Athletics (IAAF). Aquatics (FINA), Cycling (UCI) and Canoe (ICF) have similar governance and sport structures for their sport disciplines and events.
Adventure racing is a relatively small sport internationally and the work in creating a national adventure racing federative structure from the ground up is substantial. Such an undertaking is beyond the scope of any commercial event management company (and not possible because they are privately held, for profit corporations), and possibly the AR community alone. The biggest advantage from partnering with World Obstacle is that it provides, for the first time, a pathway for an independent, member-based, national federation for Adventure Racing that falls under the guidance of World Obstacle for official global sporting recognition and a pathway to the highest levels of global competitions such as multisport Games recognized by the IOC.
About World Obstacle
World Obstacle is the non-governmental, not-for-profit, volunteer based, international association of national member federations providing representation and support for Ninja, OCR and Adventure athletes in over 110 countries. Conceived in 1997 at the 3rd X-Games adventure race and formalised in 2018, World Obstacle was granted Global Association of International Sports Federations (GASIF) Observer Status in 2021, a difficult and major step toward international recognition and Olympic consideration. World Obstacle is one of only 11 GAISF Observers (330 organizations are seeking approval), and one of two granted in the past five years.
The mission of World Obstacle is to contribute to the greater good of humanity by providing benefits through participation in sport, without discrimination or bias of any kind. It aims to facilitate mutual understanding, collaboration, friendship and fairness between athletes and all parties of interest.
World Obstacle recognises Adventure 1’s ability to unite events in each member country through a national series structure. The not-for-profit A1 model provides a collaborative system to increase participation, safety, fairness, and accessibility which are core functions of international sport. This is achieved by offering shorter, more affordable races for those who choose or can’t afford to participate in Expedition-style events.
A1 announced the launch of the A1 World Cup in 2022 aimed at growing adventure racing globally with the support of World Obstacle. As more races partner under the A1 banner, more countries will have the tools to form national series’ and national associations to support them. Adventure 1 to supports and assists races that are accessible, supportive of athletes and stakeholders, and adhere to the highest international sport standards, which aligns closely with the goals of World Obstacle.
The benefits of an Australian national federation under World Obstacle
Partnering with World Obstacle provides international governance structure and support functions that provide representation support athletes and events worldwide. This provides a pathway to international and Olympic recognition that is not possible through commercial interests and race directors who wish to dictate the direction of the sport.
National federations provide opportunities for governmental support and funding. These include youth development, increased media attention, grants and sponsorship. Furthermore, work with land managers and government departments comes with the backing of a national governing body and provides a platform for adventure racers and stakeholders to have a voice, which until now has not existed in Australia for adventure racing.
Benefits for adventure racing that come with working alongside Ninja and OCR include sharing common governance and sport functions, international recognition, and a pathway to the highest level of international competition such as qualifying national teams for multisport Games recognized by the International Olympic Committee. Ninja is watched by over 1 Billion people with broadcasts in 148 countries, and OCR has 20 million participants in over 100 countries. The increased exposure has a flow on effect of increasing the pool of athletes entering the sport of AR. This happened when OCR World Champions Rea Koble and Ryan Atkins raced on Team Canada in the 2019 Eco-Challenge. International OCR media exposed 6 million new athletes to adventure racing who were previously unaware it existed.
Increased participation numbers result in commercial sponsorship opportunities for both events and teams. This lowers the costs of racing and results in bigger, better, and more frequent races.
A more detailed look into the benefits of sporting government bodies can be found here.
Who is this for and how is it structured?
The proposed federation model will have an opt-in, free membership basis open to all with roles voted on by those members. There will be representatives from all aspects of adventure racing, giving a voice to the athletes, race directors, coaches, officials, and community members guiding the sport in a democratic manner, allowing race directors to do what they do best – run their races.
Obstacle Australia, the working name for the non-government body for obstacle sports in Australia, will be a new organisation with the express remit to support the growth and functions of Adventure Racing, Ninja and OCR in the country. The organisation will be comprised of an executive committee overseeing working groups for each of the three sports. A list of member benefits can be found here.
The Obstacle Australia executive committee are elected officials composed of a president, vice president for each of the three sports (VP of AR, VP of Ninja and VP of OCR) along with a secretary and treasurer. The Australian Adventure Racing National Committee and Working Group which sits underneath the executive committee will include:
- Athlete Representative
- Race Director Representative
- Training, Development and Coaching Officer
- Fund Raising, Sponsorship and Grants Officer
- Strategic Suppliers Officer
- Website, Social Media and Marketing Officer
Adventure1 Series (which is officially endorsed by World Obstacle and the national federation) focus’ on races that are 24 hours or more in length. Plans are to extend the series to include shorter races within a local area and may include longer events.
We invite all parties of interest to volunteer for a role in Obstacle Australia and now is the time to have your voice heard and guide the direction of adventure racing in Australia. For more on the role a national body will play in adventure racing, read this.
How Australian adventure racing got to this point
Adventure racing has a long and rich history dating back to the Alpine Ironman in New Zealand and Wild Trek event in Australia in the early 80s. Events more closely representing what we now consider a modern day adventure race with mixed teams navigating over a multi-disciplinary wilderness course can be dated back to the Raid Gauloises (1989-2007) and Eco Challenge in (1995-2019), followed by thousands of local races and multiple world series and world championships from 1995 to 2008.
Adventure1 (A1) launched in Australia in 2017 with the aim of assisting the growth of the sport of adventure racing. When it began, all major adventure races in the country were a part of the series, bringing together a group of individual events under one banner and starting the long journey towards a coordinated approach to the sport. In mid 2018, the A1 roster of events in Australia split between the existing A1 series, now run as a not-for-profit model and a new commercial “Oceania” series.
There has been a concerted effort by commercial interests in adventure racing to discredit the partnership between A1 and World Obstacle. These fabrications aim to undermine the A1 vision to grow the sport in a democratic fashion. In opposition to the narrative being promoted by the vested corporate interests, the advantages of representing the sport of adventure racing through a not-for-profit structure are many. Unlike the privately held, for profit companies, we will move forward in a fully transparent, inclusive manner, developing positive partnerships and supporting the development of the sport.
The federation structure for adventure racing is well established in countries on all continents. Adventure racing in New Zealand provides a good example. It is no coincidence that they consistently produce some of the best adventure racing teams and individual adventure racers globally. They have a strong youth development pathway, actively support gender diversity in the sport, commonly compete under a single national banner and have a much more cohesive dialogue between event directors at a national level. Elite racers still desire (and require) a federative body that would provide them the support and ability to formally represent their country on the national team. New Zealand Obstacle Sports Association was recently formed to fill this role. It is no small mark of approval that the direction of A1 partnering with World Obstacle has the support of the sports icons including Nathan Fa’avae and Ian Adamson who’s teams dominated adventure racing from 1995 to 2020.
Of the national member federation members of World Obstacle recognized by their National Olympic Committees, several already include and support Adventure Racing.
How To Get Involved and Help Adventure Racing Grow
The move for Australian adventure racing to be ratified and supported by national and international governing bodies is a big step for the sport and one that should act as a guiding light to other nations looking to develop the sport in their country. Now is the time to step up and help direct the future of the sport in terms of diversity, safety, ethics, athlete development, youth development, drug testing, online commentary, media engagement, funding, sponsorship and much more. To become a member and get involved with Obstacle, click in the link below and register for free membership.
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