There are lots of rumoгrs about Tiger Adventure and Trevor Mullens, the man behind it. We know, Tiger Adventure signed up four expedition course teams to Alpine Quest, and we decided to interview Trevor and get some insides:
Why Adventure Racing? What do you like the most about AR?
I love exercise, I love adventure, I love going to places most people don’t go, I love the journey, I am competitive by nature, I love to challenge myself, I love team sports. AR is the ultimate physical and mental challenge. It has everything an adventurous person loves. Best sport ever created.
How Tiger was launched, any story behind it?
When I started in AR in 2012, I raced fit triathlete friends, but most couldn’t stomach it, for various reasons. My first Geoquest was my second AR, and I finished on my own as my team mates one by one dropped out. No one bothered to do a followup, get feedback about our experience. But I loved the event and decided that I would do it properly next year. I had learnt a lot from that race, and identified what was required. So I started racing with different people and meeting and talking to people in the sport, and built a competitive team, trained, prepared well. The next year we surprised everyone and came 4th. Based on the result, I then got asked to do XPD Flinders Ranges by Kevin Piercy. Of course I said yes and we came 7th. At the time, many senior people in the sport said that AR was dying, and yet I had only just discovered it. So I thought about how I could help change that.
Being a successful business man, I applied the same success principles. I was able to build a successful team for myself, so why not do it for others and help keep the sport alive. So I started my team building, calling it Tiger Adventure, to help people race, and more importantly, enjoy the experience and stay in the sport. The next year I organised 2 geoquest teams, the year after 8, then the year after 15. The retention stats for Tiger are amazing. Why, well because people like to feel important, part of something amazing, feel a sense of achievement, make new friends. Most marathon runners, bikers etc are part of clubs that support them, not AR. In AR if you manage to overcome all the hurdles, rock up to a race, have no idea what you are attempting, have a crack, and nobody gives a shit, you might as well have been invisible. Some of us don’t need the recognition, we have a deeper drive, and we are the sparse few that are the repeat offenders who stay the course. But the majority want to belong to something that cares about who they are, what they have just done, who believe their achievement and effort means something. But that all takes time and it comes down to the importance of a personal approach, or follow up.
What is the main hurdle for newbies in the sport in your opinion? How do you help individuals to take part in the sport?
AR is a complex, multi faceted sport when you look at the logistics, equipment, range of disciplines etc. However the greatest hurdle is getting a team to the start line that is well balanced with all the skills necessary to execute the objective of the team, and therefore have fun. Most people are attracted to the sport because they have an adventurous spirit, but lets face it, there is no support systems, training resources etc that most sports have as part of their pathway. Yet our sport is the most complex and difficult. Having said tghat, we don’t want to sanitise and make the sport easy, because then it wont maintain its true nature and essence, but you don’t want to lose people because they just think it’s a bit of a joke run by a bunch of crazy hillbillies. We need to attract and develop youth, and new people from other sports like ultra running, mountain biking, OCR, triathlon etc people get stale, look for new challenges. But we need to get the support structures in place to advise and direct them through the entry process. Once they get to know a few people and finish a race successfully, they are on their way and become great ambassadors, and will replicate their experience and in turn be willing to support and help others.
It is a lot of work involved into getting successful teams together. What are the key factors involved into forming a good team. How do you do it? Do you think there are specific team roles?
The most important thing is for team members to be on the same page, have the same goals, want the same experience. Some people want to race hard and push to the limit, other teams just want to have the experience and complete the event, smell the roses along the way, some people just want to hang out with mates, share an experience. So the most important thing is to match people depending on their philosophy, what they want out of it. That’s the starting point. Then of course within that you need to match fitness levels, skill competancys. Navigation is number one, bike skills the next. There is no point putting 3 gun riders with someone who cant ride well. Similarly with running. Paddling you can get away with it a bit more by matching strong and weak paddlers. Then of course you need to discern the abilities of people. Its funny how good athletes often understate their abilities, and average athletes think they are better than they really are. So I often ask for a brief sports CV, with some results, times etc.
Experience is everything in AR. So if I have an inexperienced person with great potential, I will put them with someone experienced so they can learn and fast track. And yes there are team roles for sure, and well balanced teams work, especially in 4 person teams. There is no point having 4 people in a team who all want to be lead nav. Two is enough so share them around. Its not to say all people should be able to nav, but some people don’t care either way. It is good also to have a pack horse, someone who can physically help others, perhaps with towing, carrying a pack, able to support other team mates, keep the navigators fresh etc. So there is a lot to consider and it takes a lot of time and effort, especially getting people to race together when they have never met. I make sure I practice what I preach and do this to show that it can work, and in fact it is a wonderful way of connecting with new people and making new friends.
What are current line up of Tiger teams for Alpine Quest?
At the moment we have four teams registered. A lot of us that are doing Godzone will use it for preparation plus I have some members from New Caledonia coming to do the race also. I think we will get more teams also, once the current A1 season finishes.
What are your expectations about AQ and Falls Creek, have you been in the Victorian Alps before?
I think the race will be spectacular. I have race there before in a stage race and I have snow skied many years there. But expect this race to be spectacular, because that’s what Adventure Junkie does. The white water kayak will be great, and the adventure journey through the mountains will be a challenge and beautiful to experience. It will be fun and of course I get to see my two favourite race directors, and Paul who is a good bloke also.