Webber Tasmania Challenge hits 10th anniversary
The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge will mark its 10th anniversary by returning to the region where it first began – and the F1 driver believes tough terrain will make it a real challenge for even the best competitors.
Webber, whose long F1 career came to an end in yesterday’s Sunday Brazilian Grand Prix, set up the multisport race after competing a 1000km adventure through the Tasmanian wilderness with a few celebrity friends back in 2003.
The charity Challenge that has run six times since – and although this year is the first Webber will not be able to compete in, he has used his knowledge to help plot a challenging course and is eager to see how competitors fare.
“I have great memories of this region from back in 2003 and it’s incredible that it is now 10 years since we did that,” said Webber. “It was an incredible life changing experience and it really kicked off my love of adventure.
“Now that my F1 career is over, I’m hoping to do more of this stuff and it is a real shame I can’t make it to Tassie this year to take on this course because I think it’s going to be a real challenge.
“We’ve got a great field of competitors this year too, with some top adventure racers and big rivalries at the front and some great athletes - including two Olympic gold medallists - hoping to get in the mix there too.”
The field includes Webber’s motorsport protégé, GP2 driver, Mitch Evans, competing for the first time, as well as seven-time world champion surfer Layne Beachley and Olympians Emma Snowsill (triathlon) and Kenny Wallace (kayak).
The event starts on November 27 and consists of a total of 341km of racing on bikes, kayaks and foot. It runs over five one-day stages, with some competitors expected to take up to 10 hours to complete each one.
The opening day will see more than 80km of racing in scenic Mole Creek before the action heads to the highlights of Cradle Mountain and the rugged west coast of Strahan on the next two days.
The teams then visit Mount Field, a lake-filled alpine region, on day four before a final day of multisport challenges in and around the beautiful Tasmanian capital of Hobart.
“We’re heading back over to the west coast, which is World Heritage listed, so people are going to get some dirt under their nails,” said Webber. “I’ve been to those places a few times now and it never disappoints. It really lets you experience Tassie in raw form.
“We’ve had some phenomenal athletes come down in the last few years and this time is no different. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone take the course on!”
After his first adventure in 2003, Webber ran the event from 2006-2008 and brought it back after a break in 2011. So far, it has raised more than AUD$1.5m for charities supported by the Mark Webber Foundation.
This year, funds will be raised for the Save the Tassie Devil Appeal – which has recently made a breakthrough in their search for a cure to the debilitating disease threatening the species.
It will also support the Whitelion youth charity, which helps young offenders in five different states return to communities and has recently set up a Mark Webber Scholarship Programme.
- The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge begins on November 27 and finishes on December 1
- It is a staged event with five days of competition, with overnight rest stops at hotels on each day
- The core disciplines are kayaking, mountain biking and trail running with some added surprise disciplines
- A total of 34 teams will compete in the event in three categories - elite pairs, enthusiast pairs and enthusiast teams
- The elite pairs winners will take home a prize of AUD$20,000
- The competitive course is 341km in total with 196km of mountain biking, 87.5km of trail running and 57.5km of kayaking
MARK WEBBER – Q&A on life after F1
After waving goodbye to the F1 paddock, Mark Webber look towards the next chapter of his racing career while keeping one eye on his charity adventure event the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, which begins on Wednesday (Nov 27).
In this interview, Mark explains how he plans to fill the F1 void – with racing, charity and adventure...
Q: How does it feel to leave the paddock?
MARK WEBBER: It’ll be a relief in some ways for that chapter to be finally over. F1 has been my environment for so long now but it’s time for a new challenge which I’m looking forward to. I’m not planning to revisit the F1 paddock too soon but on the two or three occasions I might do each year, I’m sure it’ll be in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Q: How do you feel about the next chapter of your racing career?
MW: I’m very excited about it. The first year will be different of course, different schedule, different type of racing, different people but at this time of my career it’s a perfect balance between adrenaline and working hard with a fantastic brand such as Porsche.
Q: Outside of F1, one of your big passions has been adventure and fitness – will you be doing some more of that?
MW: Well, the Tasmania Challenge is where I really got into adventure and fitness back in 2003. That’s still going strong and this year’s race starts on Wednesday. I won’t be there this time, because of team commitments but adventure is a key part of what I am and so I hope we can continue to grow that event, and maybe others, in the future.
Q: How involved have you been with this year’s event?
MW: I always like to keep tabs on how plans are developing through the year and I’ve talked over the course with the event guys down there. It takes a route around North Western Tasmania and sounds awesome so I’m gutted I won’t be able to give it a go. It’s a beautiful part of Tasmania and I’m actually very jealous of the guys who are going to get to race out there!
Q: The Challenge has been the main driver for your Foundation – what plans do you have for that in future?
MW: So far we’ve raised over AUD$1.5m through the five Challenges we’ve run so far. In the last few years we’ve been supporting the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal and children’s charity Whitelion, and the funds have helped both charities make some real progress.
Q: You are also mentoring young Mitch Evans – who incidentally is going to be competing in the Challenge this year. How do you think he’ll do?
MW: In the Challenge, or in his career?! I think he’ll have a good time in the Challenge, but I’ve warned him it’s pretty tough. To race in GP2, though, you have to be pretty fit so he should do ok. In terms of his future, we’ll have to see but he’s going the right way about things and he’s knocking on the F1 door now. Next year could be a pretty big year for him.
Q: How intense will your racing calendar be now, and how much time will you get to do more adventure stuff?
MW: I don’t know how the first year will go out so it’s a case of wait and see. But, I do have an eye on a few events which I don’t have the motivation to do just yet but I’m sure I will once I have more time on my hand!
I’m looking forward to not having to rush to do things and trying to squeeze them in between my race schedule, and having the opportunity to do some great things with people I enjoy spending time with in the adventure racing arena.
Q: And finally, what will you miss about F1?
MW: Driving the cars at some of the world’s most amazing circuits and the level of precision involved. But of course I’ll be looking to take a lot of that with me to Porsche.
-Mark Webber Press-
Interview conducted on behalf of the Swiss Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. For more information visit www.MarkWebberChallenge.com