The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge has drawn to a close after a five gruelling days, in which Webber himself competed in the early stages.
A 60-strong field of athletes in two-person teams took on some of Australia’s most rugged scenery, racing on foot, with a paddle and pushing pedals.
This year’s Challenge covered a course of around 350km and involved a variety of disciplines including kayaking, mountain biking, trail running and rope work.
Webber took part in the early stages, but having finished third in the world championship thanks to his win in Brazil, he had to attend the FIA Gala on Friday night in Delhi, so had to cut short his stay in Tasmania.
“The event is quickly regaining momentum. It’s amazing to think it started off as just a trek through the bush with a few mates back in 2003 and now it’s raised more than a million dollars for charity through the Mark Webber Foundation.
“We live life in a bit of a fishbowl in F1 and it’s great to get back out to nature,” added Webber. “What I love about the Challenge is not only the scenery but also the chance to get to know some real characters. Everyone has a similar mindset – it’s competitive, but there’s also a lot of camaraderie involved.”
The gruelling event was won by Team Iron House comprising Tasmanian Mark Padgett and British athlete Mark Hinder, who also lives on the island.
“Mentally more than physically it’s really tough,” Hinder said. “We’ve done 35 hours of racing and we’ve done it at race pace and navigating, so it’s pretty mentally demanding.
“Today was probably mentally the hardest day. Everyone was saying with local knowledge we’d walk it in, but up until half an hour before we still didn’t know where we were going and that was the real unknown about it.”