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UNDER EMBARGO: Not to be published before 1am GMT, Tuesday March 22, 2011


F1 driver Webber outlines new Challenge

HOBART, Australia (March 22) - Leading Formula One driver Mark Webber today confirmed the return of the event that carries his name, the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, after a three year hiatus, and encouraged international adventure racing enthusiasts to join him in Tasmania for the competition later this year.

Australian Webber, who announced the event’s return in Hobart ahead of this weekend’s F1 race in Melbourne, is well known for his love affair with Tasmania and with the sport of adventure racing. It was these two passions that prompted Webber to re-establish the five-day, multi-sport event that takes competitors across some of Tasmania’s most stunning locations.

The event has attracted an unprecedented level of corporate and government support, with multi vitamin manufacturer Swisse taking up the naming rights sponsorship alongside principal partner, Tourism Tasmania, who recently announced their support of the event for the next three years. Major Partners Red Bull, Pure Tasmania, LG, Rexona and Pirelli complete the sponsor line up.

“After a three-year break I am thrilled the Challenge is heading back to Tasmania and that it’s back on the calendar for the next three years,” Webber said.

The 2011 Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge will be held from 7-11 December, with Webber jetting into the state directly from the final round of the Formula One series in Brazil.

Athletes will take part in a gruelling five-day multi-sport course in five of Tasmania’s key tourism and wilderness regions. With slight changes to competition categories, the Challenge hopes to attract a range of competitors, from elite athletes and adventure racing enthusiasts chasing the ultimate prize to competitors looking for a challenge and for something to push themselves beyond their limits.

“The Challenge has always been about having determination and drive to give something a go. Now, as with the world’s great endurance races, the format will allow elite athletes to chase ultimate success while others can turn up having never done anything like this before and amaze themselves with what they can do.” Webber said

“Obviously you need to prepare for an endurance event – and with kayaking, trekking, trail running, climbing and mountain biking all part of the Challenge there is plenty to train for! But with five-day, three-day and one-day options we believe it is an event that has something for everyone.”

This year will see the return of the Van Diemen’s Cup (paired teams competing for five days) and the Ambassador’s Cup (paired teams competing for three days) and a new one-day event has been introduced for people who want to experience a taste of adventure racing.

“The Van Diemen’s Cup and Ambassador’s Cup are absolutely pivotal to what we are doing here in Tasmania,” Webber said. “But this year we’ve introduced a new one day event for anyone who wants to experience a taste of the adventure racing scene.”

Past Challenge events have involved some of Australia’s biggest international sporting stars including tennis champ Pat Rafter; cricketer Steve Waugh; Olympic medallists Cathy Freeman, James Tomkins, Michael Klim, David Crawshay and Scott Brennan and Paralympics star Michael Milton.

International competitors have included British Olympian-turned-adventurer James Cracknell, who joined Webber and won in 2006, and British round the world yachtswoman Dee Caffari. This year Webber is eager to bring in an even bigger field of international stars to compete.

“This is a tough event, especially at the elite level, but many sports stars have proven in the past that they are up for the challenge,” said Webber. “There are some tough sports men and women out there so I am sure this will encourage a few of them to step out of their comfort zone and take it on.”

Webber, who is now settled in the UK but returns to Australia as often as he can, said the course will travel through some of Tasmania’s most stunning locations including the Freycinet National Park, picture postcard Wineglass Bay, wild Bruny Island, the deep forests of the Hartz Mountains, the cliffs, blowholes and caves of the Tasman Peninsula and the rolling Hobart hills.

“I’ve seen a lot of places during my F1 career, but every time I go home and visit Tasmania I am always reminded what a beautiful place it really is. It is one of my favourite places in the world,” said Webber.

“The Challenge is not just about doing what I love in one of my favourite parts of the world, it’s also about being able to directly assist those in need. The Challenge gives me a great opportunity to do this and to support some of the charities that are important to me.”

The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge will continue to raise funds for the Mark Webber Challenge Foundation with 100% of funds raised through the Challenge going directly to the Foundation in support of Australian charities.

For more information about the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, visit the website:


Editor’s note



Media Contacts

Will Gray – International media
Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge
Tel: +44 7950 213064|email:

Ian Chesterman – Australian media
Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge
Tel: +61 417 530 902|email:

Event Contacts

Emma Jones – Event Director
Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge
Tel: +61 3 6221 8836 or +61 450 084 474|email:


Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge
Mark Webber Q&A

UNDER EMBARGO: Not to be published before 1am GMT, Tuesday March 22, 2011

Q: You’ve run a few of these events now, so how did it begin?

MARK WEBBER: The first race was in 2003, when me and a few mates thought it would be fun to race across Tasmania! We got a few big names involved and it spiralled from there, with three big races between 2006 and 2008.

Q: It was stopped after the 2008 edition - so why did you decide to bring it back now?

MW: We ran four successful events but decided to stop in 2008 when economics made it tough to continue. Ever since then, I’ve always been itching to put it on again, and fortunately after securing some important support during 2010 we’re in a position to bring it back. We now have an agreement for it to take place for at least the next three years.

Q: So what exactly is the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge?

MW: It’s a major multi-day multisport competition through the remote wilderness of Tasmania. It challenges competitors to kayak, trail run, trek, mountain bike and climb in the great outdoors – and we’ll also throw in a few other surprises along the way! It’s typical of the many popular adventure race events around the world and the aim is to make it open to all, from elite champions to people who’ve never tried it before.

Q: What’s the idea behind it?

MW: I’ve always been passionate about the outdoors and the thrill of adventure. It’s what I love to do away from Formula One. So I set up the Challenge partly as a platform to promote the great outdoors but also as the main fundraising event for the Mark Webber Challenge Foundation, which supports a variety of Australian charities. As a professional sports person, I feel privileged to be having so many special experiences and the Challenge offers a way for me to help support the important work of my chosen charities and environmental projects.

Q: When and where is it going to take place?

MW: This year, it will take place between December 7 and 11 and the course will take in some of the highlights of Tasmania, which has so many wild spots it really does justify its reputation as Australia’s adventure playground! The course is never revealed in detail until 24 hours before the race so I can’t give much away - but I can promise some stunning locations including the awesome Wineglass Bay and the fascinating historic region around Port Arthur.

Q: Where does the money come from to run this?

MW: We have some fantastic supporters that make this all possible. We have just announced a great Australian brand, Swisse multivitamins, as our title sponsor and we also have a key relationship with Tourism Tasmania and Pure Tasmania, who recognise the benefits the race offers in demonstrating that the state is one of the world’s top adventure destinations. We are also very grateful to our other sponsors including LG, Rexona, Pirelli, and RedBull for their involvement and welcome other companies to join us on this exciting journey.

Q: What’s different about it this year?

MW: Well, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever – and I mean that! We now have three categories, and our main one is for two-person teams competing over the full five days. But we also have an invitational Ambassador's Cup, which will involve a number of global celebrities racing over the long weekend, and a mass participation event on the final day. By setting it up this way, we hope it will be accessible to as many people as possible while still involving some of the top adventure racing competitors from around the world.

Q: How do you find time to organise the event – is it not a distraction from F1?

MW: Ha! There is certainly a lot to do to put this on – but no, it doesn’t take my focus off Formula One! While I like to know what is going on, I rely on a very trusted team of individuals in Australia and around the world to set it up, promote it and make sure it runs smoothly.

Q: Which charities will benefit from it this year?

MW: We will be raising funds for the Mark Webber Challenge Foundation, but we have not yet confirmed the specific charities we will support. Past events have raised funds for children’s cancer research, the Leukaemia Foundation and the Save the Tassie Devil Appeal, but the specific 2011 charities will be named in due course.

Q: So, which of your celebrity friends are going to take part this year?

MW: I have a few ideas – but I’m not going to reveal them just yet! In the past we’ve had some fantastic stars from Australia involved and I certainly want to invite some of them again, as well as some new faces. I am also hoping to bring in some overseas personalities to get a taste of Tasmania.

Q: Will you take part in the Challenge yourself this year?

MW: Good question – but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for my answer on that one for now! At the moment, my focus is on the start of the new Formula One season and all being well I will be concentrating on racing for race victories and chasing the world title throughout the year. Once the season is over, I will be able to decide whether or not to compete. As I said, I love adventure – it’s my passion and I see myself doing this sort of thing for years after my time in F1, so to be honest it will be hard not to be tempted…!


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