The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge is a five-day adventure race exploring some of the Australian state’s most magnificent scenery. This year’s edition runs from December 7-11 and Will Gray is on the ground following the event as it unfolds…
On a day when changeable weather produced all seasons in one day, the build-up to this year’s Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge adventure race kicked off in Hobart with the F1 driver taking to the streets and trails of the city alongside more than 200 competitors in a 6.5km Adventure Run.
Webber, who won the season-ending F1 race in Brazil just a week ago, was on top form as he greeted, ran with and high-fived competitors on the finish line of the run, a prelude to his five-day multi-sport competition, which kicks off in the Freycinet National Park on Wednesday.
Competitors for the main event are already beginning to arrive in the State, with team Garmin Renault heading out early from France to scope out the scenery well ahead of the start, but this day was all about Webber meeting the people of Hobart and getting back into the groove after a long season of F1 racing.
“It’s great to be back in Hobart again and get out there in amongst it," he said on the finish line in front of the Henry Jones Art Hotel. “It was good to see everyone out there enjoying it and that's what it's all about. Running is not what I do for a living, but we had a few whippets here tearing it up.”
The field involved people of all different levels, but the Challenge itself is a very different proposition, with teams set to bike, kayak and trek through stunning scenery in five different iconic Tasmania locations – Freycinet National Park, the Tasman Peninsula, Bruny Island, Hartz Mountains and back in Hobart.
“We had a bit of a break for the Challenge after 2008, but now's a good time to go again for another block of three years,” said Webber. “We've picked out some sensational locations and we’ve got Rick Kelly, the V8 supercar driver, and Glenn Archer, the AFL legend, coming along to have a crack at it too, so I'm really looking forward to getting going.”
Sunday’s Adventure Run started and finished on Hobart’s scenic waterfront, and took competitors through the picturesque green hills of Queen’s Domain, one of the city’s many green spaces. It provided a testing challenge far tougher than the 6.5km distance suggested it would be.
Competitors in the Challenge will be exploring a wider variety of city highlights when they arrive in a week’s time for the finish of the Challenge after 350km of racing. After turning down opportunities to move the race elsewhere, Webber explained why it’s back in this island state of Tasmania once again.
“The ruggedness and diversity of the terrain means we can do all different disciplines and it's breathtaking to experience those locations,” said Webber. “You never know what's around the corner. It’s just a great place to come – and over the next few days the competitors are going to learn what it’s all about…”
Established in 2006, the Mark Webber Challenge Foundation was created to umbrella all of Mark Webber’s philanthropic activities. Past beneficiaries have included TLC for Kids, Brainwave and the Cancer Council Tasmania’s Cancer Plus and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal.
To follow the race live visit: www.markwebbertasmaniachallenge.com or join the twitter stream SMWebberTasChlg
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