December 6, 2012 2:13 am

Mark Webber Challenge Report

t was always going to be a challenge for me personally with limited preparation time but I was never going to let that stop me. The interesting thing for me was the type of fitness I carried in to the event. My general aerobic conditioning was great, my weight is good and my VO2 felt strong. My sprint triathlon result last month is a good tester of the theory. Where I felt I lacked was in strength endurance, the capacity for my muscles to just keep on going for 5 days of 8 hours a day running, riding and paddling.

I found myself have good days and bad days as my body went through a recovery cycle.

Day one was possibly to most fun one day adventure race I have done with 67 check points across Launceston. The course had a little of everything from the Golf Course Orientering and a hand full of novelty events like Tennis ace, underwater swimming and  Golf putting, but things quickly became serious when we headed of towards Cataract gorge and the White water rafting.

By mid way through Day one my race partner Rob Pomie and I found ourselves in the outright lead, after making some great moves in the mid race bike orienteering leg. At one point I stopped on a track when I realized we where traveling on an unmarked trail heading south west and not west, I quickly did a 180 and headed back to the last track intersection. The choice to do so was made even harder when right behind us was three of the best teams in the world of adventure racing, Former world Champs Thule’ Jackie and Mimi, Richard Ussher and Braden Currie and Jarad Kohlar and James Pretto.

I stuck to my guns and was rewarded with the next CP and a handy lead of which we held onto for quite a while before fading to 4th over the line by days end.

Day two saw us with a 21km up hill ride that just got steeper and steeper finally ending on to of Ben Lomond National Park. We headed out onto what was a very tough off track 21km trek/run with some serious exposure, this is where my lack of preparation slowed my race.

Finally back to T/A we headed into a long one hour down hill ride which I enjoyed immensely, traveling with Team Rexona consisting of evergreen adventure athlete Gary Sutherland, and Olympians Courtney Atkinson (triathlon) andPaddling Gold medalist Ken Wallace. Ken is an old mate from my Surf Club in Queensland,Tugun and after my 10 plus years adventure racing it was a special pleasure to see Ken out enjoying the sport I love and doing so well.

The event was divided into three categories- Elite Pairs-both athletes complete the whole course. Enthusiast Pair- both do who course and Team of Three – one athlete can rest out a leg whist other two athletes are on course.

Rob and I where representing Renault Australia in the elite pairs while Deanna Blegg, adventure racing champion was team captain/navigator and mentor for Caine Eckstein and Taylor Cecil racing as Team Renault Sport.

Team Renault Sport and Rexona had a race long battle with Deanna leading the boys into first place after five days of hard racing.

Tactically the race offers a choice of bonus check points allowing faster teams to collect time bonuses along the way effectively reducing the race time at the end of the day. One of the bemusing things about this is racing for 8 hours and collecting 6hrs 40min of bonus time only to have your friends at home say ‘why are you so tired? It says you raced for an hour twenty’

Equally bemusing is finishing mid field after collecting bonus times and having confused onlookers and sponsors question your performance when in fact you have placed well on adjusted time. This was our days 3 and 4. On day 3 we opted to miss a few options allowing us to enjoy 2nd over the line for the day but only 5th on adjusted time, this contrasted with day 4 which saw us gathering every single bonus and placing 2nd elite team on the day, our best result in the event but crossing the line mid field and receiving a less than pleased look from some ‘supporters’

Day five started atop of a windy and cold Mt Wellington in Hobart. We raced down hill to a T/A before an orienteering leg and one of the finest down hill single track trails I’ve ridden. Another quite tedious urban run followed before the final paddle for the event.

In the end we paced 5th behind some very strong and well practiced Adventure teams. Congrats to Jarad Kohlar and James Pretto for their breakthrough win against a quality field including Richard Ussher/Braden Curry in second, Mark Pagett and Mark Hinder in 3rd and Jackie an Mimi of Team Thule’ in 4th.

It was also great to see 2xu all starts team of Olympic Triathlete Bredon Sexton and Aaron Royal compete in the elite section working through each day and hurting along with the rest of us. The lads come in 6th.

Another notable team was the ‘Red Bullettes’ consisting of Ironwoman champion Jordan Mercer and surfer Sally Fitzgibbons. The two girls looked to enjoy every minute of the event and backed up each day with huge smiles and a great attitude. Their Nav skills and results improved every day and I for one was well impressed with them.

Deanna Blegg, Caine Eckstein and Taylor Cecil were first placed relay team from Gary Sutherland, Courtney Atkinson and Ken Wallace in 2nd.

Mark Webber joined the race on day 3 and quickly smashed race partner for the day retired Ironman Darren Mercer. Particularly impressive was Mark finishing out the day solo doing his own Nav.

Day 4 Mark joined forces with my old team mate Darren Clarke whose calf injury held up for the day.  The two proceeded to spend the day at the lead of the race, testimony to Mark Webbers Elite fitness.

Another awesome Mark Webber Challenge has come and gone and many athletes have been pushed to their limits and loved it. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of it one more time and help raise some funds for charity in the process.

Special thanks must go to my team mate Rob Pomie for doing a stand up job on no notice and to my lovely wife Alana who was our official support crew for the long event. A tough and thankless task.


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