Webber Challenge stars hit the paddles

MAYBE it was the kayaks.

Maybe it was the camera crews.

Maybe it was the helicopter.

Either way, Falmouth residents knew something big was happening yesterday morning.

Day three of the Mark Webber multisport challenge saw the tiny East Coast village wake to a stampede of athletes, support vehicles and media crews.

The Falmouth Lagoon, usually an ideal place for a relaxed paddle, had been transformed into a frantic maelstrom from which runners launched into their ocean paddle.

Falmouth resident Helen Childs said she had thought the increased activity was the result of a serious accident.

``I was going for my morning walk  when I heard the helicopter and saw all these cars, Mrs Childs said.

``I didn't know what was going on.''

Rachel Woods, who was dropping her kids off at the bus stop, agreed.

``This is probably the most action that Falmouth has ever seen,'' she said.

Athletes started the 80-kilometre day three course  Leg 1with a gruelling run from Four Mile Creek, with event founder and celebrity entrant Mark Webber joining his fellow competitors at the start line.

The challenge took entrants on a paddle from Falmouth to Scamander, spectators interacting with Webber at the Scamander River mouth.

``He yelled out to me and asked if I had caught any good tucker,'' fisherman Brook Legosz said.

Webber nominated the mountain bike leg through Upper Scamander and over St Patricks Head as the toughest part of his day, but the formula one driver admitted finding the going easier than teammate Darren Mercer, who finished well behind.

 ``Its not for the faint-hearted up there,'' Webber said.

``The climb over the top was relentless _ but you certainly get an unbelievable view from the top.''

Victorian pair James Pretto and Jarad Kohler will continue to fight New Zealanders Richard Ussher and Braden Currie for the lead going into today's course at the Bay of Fires.

LEADING RESULTS AFTER DAY 3: 1. Swisse Active (Jarad Kohlar (Vic) and James Pretto (Vic); 2. Tasmania (Richard Usser (NZ) and Braden Currie (NZ) +23 mins 25 secs; 3. Iron House (Mark Padgett (TAS) and Mark Hinder (TAS))  +1 hr 58 mins 24 secs; 4. Pure Tasmania (Mimi Guillot (FRA) and Jacky Boiset (FRA) +1hr 58 mins 10 secs; 5. Renault (Guy Andrews/Robert Pomie)  +4hr 55m 30s.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber