Mark Webber has revealed his Tasmania Challenge will take a sabbatical next year to allow him time to work with the organisers to develop a new concept set to expand the event’s position as a premium adventure race in 2015.
Webber, who begins a new chapter of his on-track career in the World Endurance Championship racing for the Porsche factory team next year, has confirmed his desire to also expand his commitment in adventure sports now that his long and successful F1 career has come to an end.
And after the tenth anniversary edition of the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge came to a successful conclusion in Hobart on Sunday, he is eager to use next year to help steer its direction for the future.
“It was another very successful Challenge and the fact that the Tassie race has got bigger and better every year just shows what potential there is for these kinds of adrenalin-packed adventure races,” said Webber.
“We have now reached the end of a three-year partnership agreement with Tourism Tasmania and as I embark on the next stage of my on-track career it was a natural opportunity for it to take a break in 2014.
“But I have a huge passion for adventure and that is my focus away from the track, so next year will also see an important next step in the development of the Challenge.
“We are already working on plans for a new concept that will extend its reach to a wider audience. Tassie’s a great event and I’d love to see more events like it in future. So watch this space...”
This year’s Challenge attracted the strongest field ever, with some of the world’s top adventure racers joined by Olympic gold medalists, leading ironmen and a full field of amateur teams.
The race, which mostly took place in the rugged and wild western region of Tasmania, was won by World Champion adventure racer Richard Ussher and Braden Currie, of team discovertasmania.com.
The pair took the lead on the first day in Mole Creek and never looked back, also winning legs two and three in the Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area of Cradle Mountain and the wild rivers and jagged coastal cliffs of Strahan.
After a penultimate day in the sunshine on Mount Field plateau, the race concluded in Hobart, with Ussher and Currie ending more than two hours ahead of their closest rivals, Alex Hunt and Mark Hinder of team Pure Tasmania.
The event is the primary fundraiser for the Mark Webber Foundation and has generated more than $1.5m AUD for charity. This year it supported the Whitelion youth charity and the Save the Tasmanian Devil Appeal.
Webber added: “We’re really pleased that Tasmania has supported us to run this event and I am personally proud that it is now 10 years since we started it back in 2003. That’s an immense achievement.”
• The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge has run in 2003, 2006-2008 and 2011-2013
• It is a staged event with five days of competition, with overnight rest stops each day
• The core disciplines are kayaking, mountain biking and trail running with some added surprise disciplines
• A total of 34 teams competed in the event in three categories - elite pairs, enthusiast pairs and enthusiast teams
• The prize pool of the event is AUD$30,000
• The competitive course was 341km in total with 196km of mountain biking, 87.5km of trail running and 57.5km of kayaking