Australian Formula 1 star, Mark Webber, has arrived in Tasmania for the multi-sport adventure race that carries his name.
With a host of World Champion adventure racers, Olympians, ironmen, surfers and AFL footballers on its starting list, the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge is once again living up to all expectations.
On day two of the five day race, competitors tackled a gruelling 75 kilometre course featuring mountain biking, running and paddling in the Ben Lomond National Park.
Competitors in the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge tackle the gruelling climb up Jacobs Ladder on the way to the summit of Ben Lomond.
A fierce battle for the lead took place between overnight leaders, Swisse Active, and the third-placed Team Tasmania, with both teams crossing the line together after nearly seven and a half hours of competition.
Swisse Active’s Jarad Kohlar and James Pretto started the day with a buffer of nearly 22 minutes over Team Tasmania’s, Kiwi’s Richard Ussher and Braden Currie .
The New Zealanders are the race favourites, but despite their best efforts, they made no ground on their Victorian rivals.
Team Tasmania’s Richard Ussher and Braden Currie failed to make any ground on the the leaders on Day 2.
At the end of the day, both crews were exhausted, yet happy with their performances.
“It was actually quite a long day, and on some sections you’re taking in the scenery and enjoying it, but 20 minutes later you’ve made a little mistake and you’re red-lining it to try to bridge the gap,” Kohlar said.
“We were just lucky that we managed to pull back a bit of time on the last paddle and had a bit of a lead going into the last run, and we managed to keep up a good heart rate and get to the finish.
“It’s a rare thing to get in front of Richard and Braden, so we’re pretty lucky to have a bit of a lead, and we’re just going to try and play it smart.”
Pulling a thorn from his finger and with scratches down his face, Ussher was sporting the scars of battle.
“I definitely left it all out on the course,” the former World Champion commented, “but Braden probably had a bit in reserve. I’m just not firing on all cylinders at the moment and I was doing everything I could just to keep pace with Jarad and James.
“We just turned into damage limitation there and we had a flat tyre at one stage and broke our rudder on the kayak leg, so it was never going to be a massive amount of time that we would pull back today.
“But credit to these boys though (Swisse Active), they were just flying in the kayak, so it was a really good, honest day of racing, and another beautiful course.”
While the fight at the front of the field captured most of the attention, the Red Bullettes, surfer Sally Fitzgibbon, and ironwoman Jordan Mercer, continued to impress, as did former AFL stars Glenn Archer and Leigh Colbert.
Tomorrow sees the competitors competing on the east coast of Tasmania, with Webber set to join the action.
Formula 1 star Mark Webber talks to journalists after arriving for the adventure challenge that carries his name.
“I get very, very proud when I see the calibre of athlete that has turned up,” Webber said.
“It’s the strongest field ever in terms of the elite competitors. We’ve got world champions racing against each other, and you can see that they’re taking it as seriously as they’ve ever taken it.
“It’ll be great to get on the course on Friday and Saturday and have a look at it, and smell it and breath it a little bit. It’s something I really love doing.”
Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge
Results after Day 2 of 5
1 Swisse Active (Jarad Kohlar (Vic) and James Pretto(Vic))
2. Tasmania (Richard Usser (NZ)and Braden Currie (NZ)) +21mins 53 secs
3. Iron House (Mark Padgett (TAS) and Mark Hinder (TAS)) + 1 hr, 29 mins 24 secs
4. Pure Tasmania (Mimi Guillot (FRA) and Jacky Boiset (FRA)) + 1hr 58 mins 10 secs
ABOUT DAY 2
The day started with a 21-kilometre climb up the famous Jacobs Ladder, a steep and narrow section of the road that switchbacks up the face of the mountain.
Once there, the field tackled a 20-kilometre run, collecting checkpoints in the brutal scrub, before descending from the plateau to the valley for a 22 kilometre mountain bike ride.
The North Esk River bubbles along near the Blessington Hall transition area, and this provided a difficult challenge for an 11 kilometre paddle.
Sore legs were then pushed over the final four kilometre run to the finish line.