Conquering race demons

Conquering race demons
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Europcar has sponsored the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge for five years. Competing for Europcar, Phil Sargent is back and determined to conquer the race that defeated him in 2012.

But first… Team B&T is taking on the 2013 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. We are blogging live from the event, covering the highs and lows of the five-day adventure race, and looking at the inside story on the significant branding and sponsorship around the event. Here’s Day Two’s round-up. 

Day Two: Cradle Mountain

When the word ‘mountain’ appears in the race name, you know you’re in for a few hills. And when it's a famous Aussie icon like Cradle Mountain, you know you're in for a treat. Today didn’t disappoint on either front.

Tasmania’s famous Cradle Mountain was on full show for the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge competitors today, with the sun even making the odd appearance.

We started the day on our mountain bikes, cycling from our accommodation down to Dove Lake, which sits at the base of the mountain.

Next up was a 10k trail run. 10k – no problem, we thought. That was until we started climbing our way up to Marion’s Lookout. It was a taste of what was to come, with a very steep, long ascent up rocks. We were rewarded with the most amazing view down on the lake.

A 6km kayak around Dove Lake was next, before we donned our runners again to make our way along an 8km boardwalk. At the end we completed a short orienteering challenge (fortunately Team B&T’s limited navigations skills just about got us through).

Then we were back on our bikes for the most challenging – but fun – ride so far. This one was very, very offroad. It was about as rocky as it gets, complete with a rustic Indiana Jones-style wooden bridge that should have fallen down years ago. Having never mountain biked until yesterday, it was a huge thrill (not to mention surprise) to see the finish line afterwards.

Today was a good day for Team B&T. Our navigation was more successful than yesterday, the terrain was slightly friendlier, and the finish line greeted us about four hours earlier than yesterday.

Day three: another day like today please!

Logistics and exposure for Europcar

Europcar’s relationship with the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge began five years ago and has grown into a successful, exposure-grabbing annual five days for the company.

“It started through Europcar providing mobility for the competitors and kit, and helping with the logistics of the race – providing transfers for kayaks and bikes and so on,” explains Phil Sargent, state sales manager at Europcar in Tasmania.

“Europcar gets a few things out of it. The exposure element of being associated with an event like this fits in with our environmental marketing, and it’s also great brand awareness for us.”

This is the fourth year that Sargent has taken on the challenge as part of a Europcar team.

Last year he had a tough race, with temperatures climbing into the 30s. At the end of Day Three, struggling with the heat, he was forced to pull out. “I am back to try to make amends for that this year,” he says. “It’s a very tough event – it tests your physical and mental abilities for sure.”

So, aside from last year’s exceptional weather conditions, what’s the hardest part?

“Your mind never switches off for the whole five days, that’s the hardest thing,” explains Sargent. “Whether you are out there racing or preparing for the next day, you are constantly thinking and planning your race, and thinking about how your team mate is feeling. You can’t switch off, and that’s really hard.”

This year, Team Europcar Tasmania is competing in the ‘Elite Pairs’ category. Sargent says he and team mate Alex Spinks entered that category to “challenge ourselves against the best” although “we are definitely not elites”.

Europcar also has Scott Allen and Glen Christensen competing for it, in the ‘Enthusiast Pairs’ category as Team Europcar Victoria.

Team B&T, consisting of B&T features editor Lucy Clark and her racing partner Dom Collie, is taking on the challenge. It runs over five day and covers 350 kilometres, across the western Tasmania wilderness. It features kayaking, mountain biking, trekking and running – all self-navigated.

Tune in each day to find out how they fare – and for interviews with other racers and event sponsors. 

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