As Australian Formula 1 star, Mark Webber, took to the rugged trails and costal waters on the East Coast of Tasmania, the battle for the lead of his adventure race, the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, has continued.
Heading into the event’s third day, the Swisse Active team, with Victorians Jarad Kohlar and James Pretto, held a 22-minute lead over pre-event favourites Team Tasmania, consisting of New Zealanders Richard Ussher and Braden Currie.
Many expected that buffer to evaporate in the hot conditions on Tasmania’s East Coast on the run, cycle paddle course, but the Swisse Active team was again supreme, setting the fastest time for the third consecutive day and pushing their lead out to 23 minutes, 25 seconds.
Day three of competition took in an 80-kilometre loop around the Scamander and St Mary’s regions.
Running low on water on the mountain bike leg, Ussher and Currie opted to miss one of the optional checkpoints, and arrived at the finish well clear of their rivals.
However, the Victorians visited every checkpoint, gaining a vital-45 minute time bonus that helped them to increase their leading margin.
Team Iron House, Tasmanians Mark Padgett and Mark Hinder, are third, one hour 58 minutes off the pace, their hopes of back-to-back wins seemingly gone.
The Pure Tasmania team of French pair, Mimi Guillot and Jacky Boisset, are fourth, and the Renault combination of ironman great Guy Andrews and Robert Pomie are fifth.
“We made a few little mistakes through the bush bash on the first ride which probably didn’t pay off as Richard and Braden (Team Tasmania) got in front of us,” Swisse Active’s James Pretto said after 81 tortuous kilometres.
“The two Marks (Iron House) caught up to us as well, I think we were just a bit knackered from hauling our bikes through the bush for a few kilometres.”
“We really enjoyed the paddle leg, but the first run was tough and the climb up to the summit at St Patricks Head was pretty tough, but it was beautiful once you got up there and there was a nice breeze blowing.”
“On the last ride we smashed it home. In preparation for tomorrow I’ll have a dip in the pool and get a massage, and just do the same as we’ve done so far, because it seems to be working.”
The New Zealanders weren’t without their own dramas.
“We just focussed on everything that we could do and tried to dig deep and push it along as best we could,” Richard Ussher said.
“We were very low on water late in the day and decided to miss one of the optional check points and complete the course as quickly as we could.”
“The kayak leg would have been awesome, but yesterday we broke a pedal off our of our boat, and while that was fixed, the rudder line wasn’t, so we had no steering and had to stop a few times.”
“We were also taking on water, so the Coast Guard gave us a pot to bale water out with, which we had to do about 10 times.”
“But it was a good day. I’m maintaining my pace a bit more and maybe the others guys aren’t, so we’ll so how it goes over the next couple days.”
Webber has teamed with former ironman, Darren Mercer, and was happy to reach the finish line.
“It was a pretty solid day, but a good day out,” Webber said.
“Darren didn’t enjoy it as much as I did, he’s probably a bit under-cooked, and it wasn’t for the faint hearted out there.”
“I think everyone enjoyed it. The last mountain bike leg was pretty good, but it reminded me how solid these events are these days.”
“The first mountain bike climb was just relentless, and it was very hot at that point in the day, so that was tough.”
“I loved the ocean kayak leg. I was quite anxious about that, but I felt great on it and Darren did a good job. But it’s not easy to punch through those waves, and I saw a few drink bottle and things in the water from other competitors.”
“There was a lot of camaraderie out there on the course.”
“I don’t think I’m over the jet lag yet, and I’ll be toast tonight”.
Formula 1 star Mark Webber starts the beach run on the third day of the Challenge that carries his name
Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge
Results after Day 3 of 5
1. Swisse Active (Jarad Kohlar (Vic) and James Pretto (Vic)
2. Tasmania (Richard Usser (NZ) and Braden Currie (NZ)) +23 mins 25 secs
3. Iron House (Mark Padgett (TAS) and Mark Hinder (TAS)) + 1 hr 58 mins 24 secs
4. Pure Tasmania (Mimi Guillot (FRA) and Jacky Boiset (FRA)) + 1hr 58 mins 10 secs
5. Renault (Guy Andrews / Robert Pomie, QLD) + 4hr 55m 30s
ABOUT DAY 3
The day started with a 6.5 kilometre run on the beautiful white sands of Four Mile Beach and then along rugged coastal rocks to the mouth of the Falmouth River.
Then it was onto the kayaks for a sea paddle, along the beautiful coastline to Scamander itself.
The east coast of Tasmania from Swansea to Scamander has some of Tasmania’s most spectacular scenery, often in complete 180° seascapes.
The Freycinet Peninsular hugs the coast and provides a playground for adventure seekers; from bushwalking and rock climbing to kayaking and surfing.
The area is known for its fresh seafood and premium cool-climate wines.
Scamander is around three hours’ drive from Hobart.
After crossing the sandbar at the river’s entrance to the sea at Scamander, the teams continued to paddle upstream to St Patrick’s Head carpark. By the time they got on their bikes, they had completed over 19km in their kayaks.
The mountain bike ride tooks competitors 36 kilometres through to St Mary’s. It was a tough climb of over 600 vertical metres along the way.
A six kilometre run and a 13 kilometre mountain bike ride saw the teams cross the finish line at the White Sands Resort, back near Four Mile Beach, exactly where they started the day.