Australian Webber, who announced the event’s return in Hobart ahead of this weekend’s F1 race in Melbourne, is well known for his love affair with Tasmania and with the sport of adventure racing.
It was these two passions that prompted Webber re-establish the five-day, multi-sport event that takes competitors across some of Tasmania’s most stunning locations. The event has attracted an unprecedented level of corporate and government support, with multi vitamin manufacturer Swisse taking up the naming rights sponsorship alongside principal partner, Tourism Tasmania, who recently announced their support of the event for the next three years. Major Partners Red Bull, Pure Tasmania, LG, Rexona and Pirelli complete the sponsor line up.
“After a three-year break I am thrilled the Challenge is heading back to Tasmania and that it’s back on the calendar for the next three years,” Webber said.
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The 2011 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge will be held from 7‐11 December, with Webber jetting into the state directly from the final round of the Formula One series in Brazil. Athletes will take part in a gruelling five‐day multi-sport course in five of Tasmania’s key tourism and wilderness regions. With slight changes to competition categories, the Challenge hopes to attract a range of competitors, from elite athletes and adventure racing enthusiasts chasing the ultimate prize to competitors looking for a challenge and for something to push themselves beyond their limits.
“The Challenge has always been about having determination and drive to give something a go. Now, as with the world’s great endurance races, the format will allow elite athletes to chase ultimate success while others can turn up having never done anything like this before and amaze themselves with what they can do,” Webber said.
“Obviously you need to prepare for an endurance event – and with kayaking, trekking, trail running, climbing and mountain biking all part of the Challenge there is plenty to train for! But with five-day, three-day and one-day options we believe it is an event that has something for everyone.”
This year will see the return of the Van Diemen’s Cup (paired teams competing for five days) and the Ambassador’s Cup (paired teams competing for three days) and a new one‐day event has been introduced for people who want to experience a taste of adventure racing.
“The Van Diemen’s Cup and Ambassador’s Cup are absolutely pivotal to what we are doing here in Tasmania,” Webber said. “But this year we’ve introduced a new one day event for anyone who wants to experience a taste of the adventure racing scene.”
Past Challenge events have involved some of Australia’s biggest international sporting stars including tennis champ Pat Rafter; cricketer Steve Waugh; Olympic medallists Cathy Freeman, James Tomkins, Michael Klim, David Crawshay and Scott Brennan and Paralympics star Michael Milton. International competitors have included British Olympian‐turned-adventurer James Cracknell, who joined Webber and won in 2006, and British round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari. This year Webber is eager to bring in an even bigger field of international stars to compete.
“This is a tough event, especially at the elite level, but many sports stars have proven in the past that they are up for the challenge,” said Webber.
“There are some tough sports men and women out there so I am sure this will encourage a few of them to step out of their comfort zone and take it on.”
Webber, who is now settled in the UK but returns to Australia as often as he can, said the course will travel through some of Tasmania’s most stunning locations including the Freycinet National Park, picture postcard Wineglass Bay, wild Bruny Island, the deep forests of the Hartz Mountains, the cliffs, blowholes and caves of the Tasman Peninsula and the rolling Hobart hills.
“I’ve seen a lot of places during my F1 career, but every time I go home and visit Tasmania I am always reminded what a beautiful place it really is. It is one of my favourite places in the world,” said Webber.
“The Challenge is not just about doing what I love in one of my favourite parts of the world, it’s also about being able to directly assist those in need. The Challenge gives me a great opportunity to do this and to support some of the charities that are important to me.”
The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge will continue to raise funds for the Mark Webber Challenge Foundation with 100% of funds raised through the Challenge going directly to the Foundation in support of Australian charities.
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