Mark Webber Challenge & The Red Bullettes

Sally about to collect a wave on the head during an Ocean Kayak

Sally about to collect a wave on the head during an Ocean Kayak

I have lived in sheep sheds, tents and on boats, flown halfway around the world to land in desolate and isolated communities and chased athletes through all numbers of gruelling terrain, however a week with pro surfer Sally Fitzgibbons & champion Iron-woman Jordan Mercer is going to have to rate as one of the funnest and funniest adventure races I have been involved in.

The 2012 Mark Webber Challenge attracted some of the most experienced and hardcore of adventure athletes in the world… and the Red Bullettes.

Sally and Jordan are both athletes at the top of their game, and were willing step outside of their respective comfort zones to take on a new challenge… The mark Webber Challnge. The girls both contain a never say die attitude and competitive streak – it is a pre-requisite to pushing yourself to the top of your sport.

I was intrigued to see how the two girls would  handle the arduous week of the Mark Webber Challenge and wondered whether the continuous 14 hr days would get the best of them or whether they would battle through. Would their spirit be dampened or would their competitiveness win over emotion and drive them on?

Having now returned from a chaotic week of  snaparazzing the girls through whitewater, beach breaks, forrest, cliffs, extreme heat and freezing temperatures I can truly say that the Red Bullettes spirit was one of the highlights of the challenge.

There is no doubt as to the fitness of the two, however day one did raise the age old debate about the fairer sex and their map-reading skills… seeing the GPS tracking go up and down the same Gorge 3 times (even coming within 100m of the checkpoint) before finally arriving at a transition area had a few people laughing and others frustrated… fortunately the girls laughed it off as ‘teething problems’ and a ‘learning experience’

I am used to predicting where the elite adventure racers of the world might travel and leapfrogging them by whatever means to document such a journey. However this years Mark Webber Challenge held a special Mark Watson Challenge as well… Where the hell would the Red Bullettes go?  The girls ability  to accidentally find checkpoints and change plans on the run had me confounded… but I managed to catch them every now and then for a photo or two and their plan(or lack there-of) seemed to work for them as they feel into the routine of adventure racing.

Truth be told – by the end of the race the Bullettes were planning ahead like seasoned racers, marking maps and intended routes and collecting both compulsory and non compulsory checkpoints scattered throughout the Tasmanian wilderness.

What was evident throughout was their never-say-die attitude though. Both admitted to a few bouts of tears in the wilderness and on occasion just wanting to give up, but they drove each other on. The easiest way of tracking the girls was to venture into the wilderness and then stand still and listen… the sounds of nature would envelop you but stand long enough and you were sure to get a hint of a female voice singing over the breeze… and soon the voices and laughing and singing and jokes would grow stronger. I have never known a team to battle and entire week long race whilst all the while chatting, laughing and joking with one another non-stop and also to whomever happens to pass their way, whether it be a sole farmer, a rival team or even myself… I was often greeted on a bush track with a bit of a skip and jump and ‘Hey Watto… Whooohoo!’… The one identifying character of the Red Bullettes was their constant smile, chatter and lighter.

What a crazy week, a fun week and just one hell of a a laugh in amongst some of the most amazing scenery Oz has to offer.

So here are a few snapz

Chio fo now,

MW

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About inciteimages

A magazine recently profiled my life and pretty much hit the nail on the head: Australian adventure photographer (and occasional journalist) Mark Watson is a liar. He suggests his job is “not so glamorous,” but drop him an email and his ‘out of office auto response’ will inform he’s heli-skiing New Zealand or trekking Patagonia. In downtime he surfs and mountain bikes Sydney’s Northern Beaches or can be spied drinking café latte’s on the beachfront when he should be editing photos. He’s a Nikon Ambassador and Red Bull Australia’s No.1 photographer, and after a few Corona’s, admits, “I photograph cool people, in cool places, doing cool things!” Quickly followed by the disclaimer “It’s not always exciting…” But always said with a mischievous grin. View all posts by inciteimages

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