Finish line elation

Finish line elation
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Team B&T has conquered the 2013 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. We have been 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 our final blog. 

Finish line elation

After five days of brutally tough racing, Team B&T has completed the 2013 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge.

It has been five hugely inspirational days that were mentally and physically challenging from start to finish.

From the 5am alarm clock, to the early morning race starts, to the navigating and physically pushing ourselves around the six or seven legs each day, through to the bag and kit box packing and map planning each night after dinner, there really is no time to switch off during the event.

Day five certainly saw the event end in style. At 7am we found ourselves on the summit of Mount Wellington, looking down on Hobart on the most beautifully sunny morning. Moments like that will stick in our minds for a long time.

The day kicked off with a 5km run part-way down the mountain on a rocky path, to meet our mountain bikes.

Next up was a challenging downhill ride on very rocky, overgrown paths. Half way through the ride we abandoned our bikes to pick up a checkpoint which was about 1km down an almost vertical path – we picked up fallen branches to use as walking sticks to help us back up again.

The rest of the mountain bike route took us closer to Hobart city, before we got into our kayak at Blackmans Bay Beach for a 12km paddle into town. With strong winds, rolling water and sore shoulders, we found this to be one of the toughest paddles of the race. But the thought of the finish line looming was enough to keep us going.

The final leg of the day was a 6km run, collecting a series of checkpoints along the way, through Hobart to the finish line in front of the Henry Jones Art Hotel. It was one of the most surreal moments of the race, running through the city with people clapping (and staring at the sweaty, salty weirdos carrying backpacks and maps, and looking utterly bedraggled).

It was a mixture of relief and disbelief, and the biggest sense of achievement we’ve ever had to cross the finish line. It’s going to take a few days to sink in.

It’s been more than inspiring to see the elite teams take on the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. All I can say is that they really are super-human.

New Zealanders Braden Currie and Richard Ussher, racing for Team Discovertasmania.com, were the event winners, finishing two hours and 42 minutes ahead of second place Team Pure Tasmania, Mark Hinder and Alex Hunt.

Day five highlights:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVNXWKGaHK8

Ranked in the world’s top 10 adventure races, the Webber Challenge is a slick operation. Event organisers Octagon and course planners Rapid Ascent are behind the event, and it couldn’t happen without the army of volunteers who set up and man the transition areas, and transport competitors around at the start and end of each day. And then there are the team of physiotherapists from Physiowise who kept everyone moving, the bike mechanics who kept our bikes going, the kayak guys who helped us into the water, and the photographers and cameramen who captured the whole event.

And it’s no wonder big brands want to get their names on this world-class race. It attracts headlines around the world and everyone involved will now be eagerly awaiting the documentary of the five days, which will hit our screens next year. Sponsors of this year’s challenge include naming rights sponsor Swisse, as well as Europcar, Rexona, Red Bull, Tourism Tasmania, 2XU and Caltex.

The highlights, in no particular order:

Seeing wombats and echidnas in the wild
Huge adrenaline rushes every day for five days
Getting into bed each night
Finding the checkpoints. Each and every one brought a great feeling of accomplishment with it
Seeing Cradle Mountain up close
Reaching the top of Mount Field on our mountain bikes, after 15km of climbing
Venturing deep into the Tassie wilderness every day, surrounded by the most stunning and dramatic scenery
Completing the notoriously tough kayak around Strahan and through Hell’s Gates
Feeling battered and bruised, but totally elated, at the end of each day
Bumping into other teams out on the course when we'd been alone for a long time
The early morning sunshine on the top of Hobart’s Mount Wellington
And, of course, crossing the finish line

Some highlights in pictures: 

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

Look out for the first edition of B&T’s relaunched magazine, out at the end of January, which will include a feature on the 2013 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. 

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