Richard Ussher is an inspiration. Zuberant Life founder Ian Jones was honoured to meet his long-time idol in New Zealand recently. When competing, Richard was World Adventure Racing Champion, Ironman and Olympian, and a multi-sport competitor in his own league. He achieved victories in every edition of the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge (2007-2010), the World Adventure Racing Championship 2005 and 2006, and was a top finisher in the XTERRA World Championships and Anaconda Series in Australia. He is a five-time winner of the New Zealand Coast to Coast multisport race, and formerly held the New Zealand Ironman-distance Triathlon record at 8hr 2min 15sec. He also represented New Zealand in the freestyle skiing event of moguls at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Ian also competed in the Rapid Ascent Anaconda series (now Augusta Adventure Fest) in Western Australia when Richard competed, and has great admiration for a man who was so complete in his multi-sport skills. The event consists of trail running, paddling, mountain biking and swimming and is a challenging event situated in an area of natural beauty. “My abilities can’t even be compared to Richard’s but, besides being inspired by his performance, I was incredibly impressed by his humanity and modesty.”, says Ian.
In a 2009 interview with the New Zealand Herald Richard explained how different events challenge in different ways. “The Coast to Coast, as an example, is three hours longer than Ironman. But then some events I do make Coast to Coast and Ironman look like a walk in the park. It’s pretty tough when you go four days without sleep as I have done on occasions.”
“My philosophy on racing and life is to continually look for new challenges, which inspire me, and keep me striving to bring out the very best in myself and those around me.”
Richard is married to Finnish multisport competitor Elina who is herself a 4-time winner of New Zealand’s Coast-to-Coast race, and as part of Adventure racing team Adventure Sport NZ, with Richard, won the Abu Dhabi Adventure Challenge three times. Elina still trains and competes.
While Richard has retired from competitive racing, he told me that still enjoys his endurance sports, especially mountain biking and paddling. “I went out on the sport on my own terms and I knew it was time for me to exit – there’s only so long that smashing your body stops being a challenge and just becomes painful.”
The challenge of business had become Richard’s next step after achieving his sporting ambitions. He and Elina have started to develop Cable Bay Adventure Park in Nelson, New Zealand which will offer a range of activities such as walking, horse riding, obstacle courses mountain biking for people. He regards himself as custodian of the land and has a strong ecological and community vision which are values that resonate closely with Zuberant Life.