When Sam Hitchcock and Eric Porter approached Todd Barber about having an award at Rampage in Kelly’s honour, they originally planned to give away his famous blue Astro van. When that didn’t come to fruition, the idea evolved and the Kelly McGarry Spirit Award was born.
“We thought that after all the fighting and bickering and everything that Kelly wanted no part of last year, that it would be cool to give out an award based on good character,” explained Eric Porter. Then with a cheeky grin he shared, “I proposed to call it the 'GC' award - you know, 'good character,' right?”
|I wasn't expecting it at all and I'm definitely pretty proud to be able to bring it back to Queenstown where, obviously, the core group of his friend are. Kelly was the nicest guy ever, so I don't know - I definitely feel quite lucky to be picked.- Conor MacFarlane|
The idea was to honour someone who truly embodied Kelly’s spirit of loving everyone, always being positive, and never giving up. To further strengthen the bond between the riders this year, the award was voted on solely by the athletes.
|Eric Porter came to me and Sam - they originally wanted to give and that didn't really come to fruition so we thought, 'hey, let's just do an award for the spirt of Kelly.' There was a little bit of bad blood after last year's event and we figured, 'let's get it back to the core,' and everybody will embrace his spirit.- Todd Barber|
|We thought that after all the fighting and bickering and everything that Kelly wanted no part of last year, that it would be cool to give out an award based on good character. I proposed to call it the 'GC' award - you know, 'good character,' right?- Eric Porter|
“We almost just gave it to everybody, we were almost going to produce twenty-one, I'm not kidding you!” Todd Barber was thrilled to see that all the athletes this year took a page from Kelly’s book; working together, supporting each other, and avoiding any of the drama that plagued last year’s competition. “All the athletes voted on it and across the board everyone was voting for everyone else and then at the end we got some that put Conor over the top.”
On hand to present the award was Kelly’s brother, Matt. “Conor had some pretty hard crashes in the last three days and he got up and kept on riding. He’s covered in blood and his elbows are bleeding; just like Kelly” Matt was proud to present the award to a fellow Kiwi to boot, “It’s great that they did that for Kelly, everyone just did so much, and it’s really awesome that another Kiwi won it, and it's someone who Kelly knew well.”
It might just be something about that Kiwi spirit that reminded us all so much of Kelly, as Conor’s girlfriend, Rebecca, will tell you – “they’re too stubborn for their own good, it’s the Kiwi mentality as well; to just keep going. But maybe they should stop when their girlfriends tell them to!” She admits that it was hard to watch, but she also holds a lot of pride for how stubborn Conor is, “you just keep calm and take it easy, and take it as it comes, when it comes. I didn’t actually watch, I was walking up and down [out of view] and I had just walked back up and I heard his name and then I saw him crash.”
Carson Storch, who took the third place podium and best trick award, was someone who knew Kelly well. Kelly was his teammate, mentor, and friend – and Carson competed in finals with a ‘McGazza Forever’ emblem across the back of his jersey. “I think MacFarlane definitely earned it, he got his ass kicked this whole entire time and was definitely in warrior mode, and he pulled through. He didn’t leave anything unturned; he did everything he possibly could to get down. Obviously he’s a good enough rider to get down and kill it, but he was so beat up from the first day of practice that he had to just push through the pain and struggle the whole way through and he did it. He’s definitely really badass, and it’s definitely really respectable. And it’s definitely McGazza-esque.”
|Obviously he's a good enough rider to get down and kill it, but he was so beat up from the first day of practice that he had to just push through the pain and struggle the whole way through and he did it. He's definitely really badass, and it's definitely really respectable. And it's definitely McGazza-esque.- Carson Storch|
Conor was caught off-guard when his name was announced leaving a pause as it sunk it and he finally made his way to the stage.“I wasn't expecting it at all and I'm definitely pretty proud to be able to bring it back to Queentown where, obviously, the core group of his friends are,” says Conor holding the award with his bandaged hand and wavering a little with a sore knee. “Kelly was the nicest guy ever, so I don't know - I definitely feel quite lucky to be picked.”