Webber promotion of Tasmania hailed

THIS year's Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge has taken the state's global exposure to unprecedented levels, according to organisers.

The event's headline act flew in to join the action yesterday as Tasmania's mountains and meteorology combined to provide an idyllic showcase of the state.

Event director Mark Perry said the five-day, 350-kilometre multi-sport spectacle was reaping the benefit of introducing a first prize of $20,000, which is $5000 more than the winners received at last year's adventure racing world championships, also held in Tasmania.

``We wanted to grab the mantle as the biggest prize in adventure racing,'' Perry said as day 2 took competitors mountainbiking, running and kayaking around Ben Lomond.

``The prizemoney has brought a level of competition never seen before.

``The best adventure racers in the world have come here because they are professional athletes that make a living from these events.

``We told Mark and (his wife) Ann, if this thing is going to put Tassie on the map in Europe where adventure racing is based we have to run it like an adventure race in Europe, hence the prizemoney.

``As a result, all the adventure racing websites have lit up with the event this week, which has never happened before because in the past it was only seen as a charity event. 

``People who like hiking and mountainbiking etc follow these sites and read those magazines, so as far as promoting Tasmania, this takes it to another level.''

Each of the 40 teams faced an entry fee of about $10,000 with the event still seen as a major fund-raiser for the Mark Webber Foundation, which supports White Lion and the Save the Tassie Devil fund.

Last year it raised $116,000 and this year's goal is to again break $100,000.

International journalists following the event include representatives of Inside Sport, Enduro Magazine, Men's Health, New Zealand Triathlon magazine and The Scotsman, while Perry said securing support, through Webber, of global companies like Renault, Red Bull and Swisse further helped promote Tasmania worldwide.

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