Nick Gracie Celebrates Another Title Win and 2 Decades of Racing

Rob Howard / 06.02.2022
At the Vulcania AR with Race Director Nelson Yanez / © Vulcania AR (All others Rob Howard)

British Adventure Racer Nick Gracie is celebrating his 50th birthday today, having just returned from a successful trip to Chile, where he was on the winning Brazil Multisport team at the VulcaniaAR.

The race was the ARWS South American Championships and it was Gracie’s 4th major national or international title in a long racing career, so it’s a good time to look back at one of the most successful, and probably the most prolific, expedition adventure racing careers.

Speaking about the race in Chile, Gracie said, “It’s one of my best racing experiences.  The welcome and the way Nelson Yanez and his family, looked after us, was quite amazing, and it was a stunning and beautiful place to race. 

“The highlight was the volcano trek, which was one of my best stages ever.  The night navigation was challenging and we got to the summit at dawn, where there was a huge crater with a central glacier. Then we trekked along a long ridge and in the orange sunrise we could see nothing but volcanoes, lakes, glaciers and rivers stretching in all directions. It was really special.”

Such experiences which have helped motivate him in a racing career lasting almost 20 years and spanning the globe. 

The South American title added to his previous British, European and World titles.

He started expedition racing at the Adrenaline Rush race in Inverness, Scotland, in 2003 and said, “We came second, and I was totally hooked.”  British Championship titles followed racing as Aberdeen Asset Management (with Warren Bates) and the team was ambitious. I recall them saying at those early races that their aim was to be World Champions … and by 2009 Gracie had his Adventure Racing World Championship title.

On the finish line after winning the world title in 2009

That was at the Portugal XPD race with Bates, Nicola MacLeod and Tom Gibbs. Racing as Team Helly Hansen Prunesco they won a titanic struggle with the powerhouse Nike team (including Mike Kloser & Chris Forne) to upset the form book and take a surprise win.  (The only other team to have won the World Title without a Kiwi, US or Scandinavian racer are  Buff Thermocool, lead by Emma Roca, the following year.)

The European titles followed in Turkey at the Lycian Challenge in 2014 where, racing as adidas Terrex, they were the only team to complete the full course.  A different adidas Terrex team, including Stu Lynch, defended the title in Ireland at The Beast the following year, despite team mate Jo Thom having a bad bike crash and the team taking a 3 hour detour on their bikes to A&E.

On the way to winning the European title at the Beast of Ballyhoura in Ireland in 2015​​

More recently Gracie’s racing has been a love affair with South America, and dominated by two races in particular, the Patagonian Expedition Race in Chile, and Expedicion Gurani in Paraguay.

The Patagonian Expedition Race is often described as the world’s hardest.  Just to get there, and have a crack at completing the uncompromising courses in the mountains of Patagonia is a dream for many racers, and Gracie is a 4 time winner.  (Along with his buddy Mark Humphrey.)  It’s a remarkable record at one of the sport’s marquee races.

At Expedicion Guarani he has raced 6 times, and won 5 times, which is something to keep in mind ahead of the this year’s Adventure Racing World Championships in Paraguay.  (The Brazil Multisport team are the current title holders at that race.)  It is his favourite race and he has been vocal in urging teams from around the world to experience racing in Paraguay at ARWC in September.

On the finish line at the Patagonian Expedition Race in 2016

When he says it’s the ‘complete package’ and ‘the best place to race in the world’ it is the voice of experience speaking.  To date he has completed an incredible 54 expedition races and raced at 14 Adventure Racing World Championships, both of which are probably record figures. (Anyone know who might have done more?)

They are both numbers he plans to increase this year.  Age, and two knee surgeries, may have tempered expectations a little, but the competitive spirit and love of racing is as strong as ever. 

He is about to fly back to South America for the Panama AR (the first AR World Series race of the year), and the recent win in Chile secured Brazil Multisport their free place at the World Champs in Paraguay, which he says, “will probably be my final chance at the ARWC podium.”

He added, “The best thing about racing over the years have been all the great people I have raced with, and race organisers and volunteers I have met.”  And he’s not done yet.

Lycian Challenge - https://www.sleepmonsters.com/more_about.php?event_id=10449

The Beast, Ireland - https://www.sleepmonsters.com/more_about.php?event_id=11311

ARWC Portugal – https://www.sleepmonsters.com/more_about.php?event_id=7511

PER 2010 - https://www.sleepmonsters.com/more_about.php?event_id=7498&article_id=0

PER 2011 - https://www.sleepmonsters.com/more_about.php?event_id=8415

PER 2012 - https://www.sleepmonsters.com/more_about.php?event_id=9535

PER 2016 - https://www.sleepmonsters.com/more_about.php?event_id=11941

(All of the AR World champs are there too as well.)

Strange goings on at the World Champs in Portugal​​​​​​

At the Lycian Challenge in Turkey 2014
Winning the European title in Turkey in 2014
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