Oak Bay High grad Jonathan Willcocks credits much of his high school experience with where he is today.
The former Oak Bay class president came to the local community a little later than many of his classmates, moving from England as a teen to live here with his grandparents.
Finding ways to connect with school and friends wasn’t always easy, but soccer helped ease the transition, he says, crediting coach and mentor Martin Collins, a University of Victoria professor, for his influence.
“For me, it’s been about having different mentors in life, different teachers,” he says.
Willcocks also recognized early on that he wanted to take those experiences put them to work with people, promoting enjoyment and exploration of the outdoors.
Today, the “founder and chief visionary” of Pinnacle Pursuits, Willcocks is the force behind the UrbaCity Challenge, returning to Victoria streets, sidewalks and businesses Sunday, June 12.
“The last 25 years of life has been so connected through values of leadership, adventure, play and community impact – I realize these have been common values throughout my whole life,” he says.
“It’s also about being curious and open to opportunity, making key choices, and then just having a super awesome attitude and approach as I – or one – jumps into the unknown.”
Willcocks graduated in 1989 and now makes his home in Vancouver. About seven years ago, he was looking to complement his work with youth and corporate team-building, and thought, “let’s see where we can go with the whole idea of a charity challenge,” he says.
Combining the idea of a fun adventure “race” with charity fundraising, “people have just been eating it up,” he says.
“It’s about stretching people outside their normal environment.”
The urban adventure race – think a localized mash-up of Amazing Race and Survivor, with a charity twist – is filled with challenge stations that test both brain and body. UrbaCity offers brain, brawn, ultra and corporate face-off categories, “each offering a fun and challenging race with its own unique twist.”
The race begins and ends at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, but takes in the entire city centre. Challenge locations are hosted by local businesses and include Victoria hot spots, hidden gems and landmarks.
Stations could feature brain puzzles, like word games, maps or visual clues, or displays of brawn, like paddle-boarding, gymnastic feats and even carrying your teammate.
Or, combine the two for an extra-long Ultra course. The corporate face-off division features a taste of everything, custom-tailored for four people and a perfect team-building opportunity.
“You’ll see a whole new side of the city – and your teammate, because teamwork is the order of the day: brain, brawn and ultra categories each include two team members who will have to work together to conquer the race. This is doubly-true for the corporate face-off.”
Activities might have participants learning about legends and storytelling at First Nations sites, solving puzzles at a game and puzzle store, or doing partner poses at a yoga studio, for example.
Each UrbaCity team raises funds for Island Prostate Centre, located at the Oak Bay Junction. Minimum pledge levels and incentives for high fundraisers motivate
UrbaCity racers to give more to this vital community resource. Last year, UrbaCity racers donated over $50,000 to Island Prostate Centre – this year, they’re aiming even higher.
“It really is all about raising awareness and funds for the Island Prostate Centre,” while celebrating downtown Victoria and the community, Willcocks says.
Making the event possible are the volunteers from Maximus Canada, who were also looking for a team-building opportunity and a way of giving back.
Learn more and register at urbacitychallenge.ca.