Two Victorians, Jarad Kohlar and James Pretto, have taken the early lead on the opening day of the five-day Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge.
The combination, competing as Swisse Active, crossed the line 17 minutes clear of defending champions, Team Iron House, consisting of local pair Mark Padgett and Mark Hinder.
New Zealand multi-sport adventure legend, Richard Ussher, and Braden Currie, from Team Tasmania, are third a further five minutes back.
Kohlar and Pretto got to all the extra control points around the course to maximise their score, creating a handy buffer over Ussher and Currie, and going into the second day in the Ben Lomond National Park.
The celebrity stacked field of 40 teams spent the day running, cycling, kayaking and rafting around Launceston on the first of five days.
“We were just lucky on the last run when we went up the zig-zag track and those guys ran past it, but we also lost a bit of time at the last check point, so we were surprised when we actually crossed the finish line first.”
“We had mountain biking through an archery range and rafting down the Cateract Gorge. (With the additional bonus check points) … there was probably 50 kilometres of mountain biking and a good 20 or 30 kilometres of hard orienteering trekking legs, and it was quite a hot day as well for Launceston standards, so we’re pretty happy that we got the win today.”
His team-mate, James Pretto, agreed that the day went well for the Victorian pair.
“It went to plan as well as it can really,” he said.
“In adventure racing anything can happen and you have to be wary of that. I cramped a bit in the calves on the bike, so I need to take more electrolytes and fix that up for tomorrow, but we’ll be ready to go for day two.”
Having been ill for the past month, Ussher was happy with Team Tasmania’s second place after the opening day.
“Today was pretty good. Solid, but not spectacular,” Ussher explained.
“I think we raced pretty sensibly. We made a bit of a stuff up towards the end where we lost Jarod and James and lost a few minutes, but apart from that it all went pretty smooth and it was a really, really nice course.”
“The weather was nice. It definitely got a bit hot when you were out in the sun, but I think that it’s much nicer to race in the heat than it is in the cold. It just means you’ve got to drink a bit more, and take every opportunity you can to cool off in the lakes.”
Queenslanders, surfer Sally Fitzgibbon and iron woman, Jordie Mercer, competing as the Red Bullettes, were the leading female team.
Mark Webber is flying into Tasmania Thursday morning to join the competition as it heads to Hobart on Sunday.
The event is raising money to two charities, Whitelion and Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal.
Day two of the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge sees the competitors head to the Ben Lomond ski resort, with over 75 kilometres of running, mountain biking and paddling. The will then overnight at the White Sands Resort on the east coast.
Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge results – end of day 1 of 5
1. Swisse Active (Jarad Kohlar / James Pretto, VIC), 1h 21m 54s
2. Team Iron House (Mark Padgett / Mark Hinder, TAS), 1h 38m 45s
3. Team Tasmania (Richard Ussher / Braden Currie, NZ), 1h 43m 49s
4. Renault Adventure (Guy Andrews / Robert Pomie QLD), 1h 56m 33s
5. Pure Tasmania (Miryam Guillot / Jackie Boisset (FRANCE), 2h 07m 09s
ABOUT DAY 1
The 2012 Challenge opened at the Country Club Resort with 16 activities to be completed before tackling the day’s 72 competitive kilometres on foot, bike and water.
From the Country Club competitors ran to First Basin in the historic Cateract Gorge, where they went white water rafting down the bottom reaches of the South Esk River, Tasmania’s longest waterway, to the Tamar River junction at Kings Park.
After the rough and tumble of the fast moving water, teams got onto their mountain bikes on a combination of trails and tracks out to Hagley on the banks of the South Esk River, for the first kayak leg of the Challenge, an 11 kilometre paddle downstream to the Lake Trevallyn Power Boat Club.
The Trevallyn Reserve on the fringe of the city is a recreational paradise for locals. Here teams tackled a running orienteering section through the Reserve to Deadman’s Hollow, near the historic old hydro power station at Duck Reach, and then another mountain bike leg back to First Basin.
The first day ended with a run to the famous James Boag Brewery in the heart of Launceston.