Webber launches major adventure race

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Australian Formula One star, Mark Webber, today officially launched the 2006 Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge (The Challenge), a major charity initiative to raise money for Victorian-based TLC For Kids and Cancer Council Tasmania’s Cancer Plus program.

The Challenge is a gruelling six-day adventure race combining cross-country trekking, mountain biking, road cycling and kayaking; it will be held in Tasmania between 5 - 10 November.

The event is strongly supported by the Tasmanian Government through Events Tasmania, and Pure Tasmania - the flagship tourism brand for the Federal Group representing the tourism destinations of Strahan, Freycinet, Cradle Mountain and the Tasman Peninsula.

Up to 12 four-person teams – made up of corporate executives, celebrities and sports stars – will compete alongside Webber.

The race will cover about 600kms and take in some of Tasmania’s most beautiful locations, including the iconic Cradle Mountain National Park and the world heritage-listed area in and around Strahan on the State’s rugged West Coast.

According to Mark Webber, the Challenge will adhere to a route designed to stretch every competitor’s strength, stamina and courage.

“The Challenge will be tough and demanding; it’s a race, and all competitors will be out to do their best and win, while at the same time raising funds for needy kids,” he says.

* Precursor Event

In what was a precursor to MWPTC, a similar challenge event was held over 10 days in Tasmania in 2003.

This event featured a host of Aussie sporting legends, including Cathy Freeman, Pat Rafter, Steve Waugh and James Tomkins. Former ironman champion, Guy Andrews, competed in the 2003 event and has signed up again for the 2006 challenge.

“It’s all about perspective,” says Andrews, who took up adventure racing in 2001 after quitting ironman.

“Initially I was inspired and in awe to be in the presence of such high achievers as Mark Webber, James Tomkins, Pat Rafter and Cathy Freeman. But before day's end, we sat in awe together and absorbed the feeling of insignificance and isolation that the rugged pre-historic Tasmanian coast gave us.”

* Umbrella Organisation

A brain child of Mark’s - the Challenge is a marquee event run by the newly formed Mark Webber Challenge Foundation, an umbrella organisation that supports charities that help Australian children suffering from life-threatening illness.

According to Webber, the foundation allows him to “help the community in a personally rewarding and meaningful way”.

“The foundation is about forming partnerships with charities, corporations and governments to raise money for children in need,” says Webber.

“As a professional sports person, I’m able to do many special things – such as represent my country at the highest level, test myself to the limit week in and week out, work with highly talented people, meet inspirational figures and of course travel the world to drive fantastic racing cars.

“Even so, my Australian roots are never far from my thoughts and because I’m not able to spend much time at home these days, I wanted to return something worthwhile to the community.

“After the success of the 2003 challenge – and now with the revamped event taking place later this year – the creation of the Mark Webber Challenge Foundation was the logical step forward in enabling me to support a number of different charities on a regular basis, while giving me the excuse to continue fantastic and fun events such as the Pure Tasmania Challenge,” says Webber.

* Pure Tasmania & Events Tasmania

The 2006 Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge is supported by Pure Tasmania and Events Tasmania.

Federal Group Chief Executive Nigel Morrison says the adventure race will be an excellent showcase of everything Pure Tasmania represents – the best in authentic, natural experiences in spectacular locations.

“Pure Tasmania captures a world of unique Tasmanian experiences, and we believe the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge certainly fits that description.

We look forward to welcoming Mark and his fellow competitors to Tasmania,” said Morrison.

According to Events Tasmania, Director, Paul Sproule, the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge sends out a strong signal to the international and national event marketplace that Tasmania is open for events tourism business.

“The Challenge will heighten the profile of Tasmania and add to the state’s growing reputation as the adventure activity capital of Australia.

Tasmania has an extraordinary diversity of stunning natural assets and Mark and his fellow participants will need to overcome the mental and physical challenges that these distinct Tasmanian environments present,” explained Sproule.