While many of her fellow surfers were living the dream on Hawaii’s North Shore last weekend, Pedestrian 2012 Bachelorette Of the Year Sally Fitzgibbons was slugging it out in the backwoods of Tasmania competing in one of the world’s most testing endurance races, the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge. As to why she would trade the barrels for the bone jarring 5 day
trip to hell and back adventure was beyond us. Luckily the World Number 2 was on hand to explain her motivation for testing herself against the Tasmanian wilderness.
I would anticipate being a little more puffed after climbing a mountain.
Competing for Red Bull as part of the Red Bullettes alongside up and coming Ironwoman Jordan Mercer, the two were touted as the glamor team of the event but this was no race for just any young starlet wanting to get her hands dirty. Already an elite athlete, Fitzgibbons detailed her grueling routine in the lead up to the race.
“Training wise I had to get a crash course on mountain bike riding, kayaking and how to read a basic topographic map. With limited time I
jumped in the deep end at the beginning of the race and had to learn
quick smart or I’d still be lost out in the Tasmanian wilderness as we
speak, haha! I clocked up a lot of extra kilometers running, biking and
paddling before the race so handle the 350 plus kms
that I would face over the five days.”
Beach jogging with Mark Webber and Sally Fitzgibbons.
Given that it was fellow Red Bull alumni, V8 driver Rick Kelly, who convinced her to join the race by describing it as “one of the best achievements of his life“, we were interested to see how it rated for the three time ASP world tour runner up. “This race was everything and more. I knew it was going to be a grueling
five days, but I never thought I would be achieving the crazy things I
did,” Fitzgibbons said. “Climbing to the top of the Ben Lomond Mountain ranges on bikes,
climbing to summits on foot and paddling the windiest rivers and creeks I
have ever seen. The Webber Challenge had it all and provided so many
really memorable moments.”
Seriously, why are you smiling!?
In a race featuring the top endurance racers in the world and a host of other mega-fit athletes like Olympic kayaker Ken Wallace, Ironmen Shannon and Cain Eckstein, and triathlete Courtney Atkinson, Fitzgibbons stressed the importance of mental strength as well as physical power, as a means of slogging it out day after day. And by mental strength we mean being able to distract yourself with mindless ditties and inspiring songs. So what was it? Eye of the Tiger or We Will Rock You? “I went through many phases of songs and jingles. Katy Perry’s Firework
song was stuck on replay in my head for a couple of days, haha!” So there was no channeling of Rocky? “I kept coming back to Dory
out of Finding Nemo. In my case instead of swimming it was just keep peddling, just keep peddling, on the long up hill climbs. Often I was
just in this relaxed state where your body just keeps moving without you
thinking fully.” Whatever works I guess, with the Red Bullettes a) finishing and b) finish a very competitive seventh!
Returning to the sea, we would have assumed this is where the surfer and the ironwoman would excel. And they did until they turned their kayak into a submarine on the way down a wave. Check it out here.
Celebrating the epic journey with some Vegemite and peanut butter and jam sandwiches (two separate flavors of sandwich – and no, we don’t know where the cheese burgers were either), Fitzgibbons conceded that the lack of sleep began to take its toll towards the end of the race, but this was just another obstacle to overcome in what was a very rewarding race. “There so so many great parts. I think climbing to the top of both
summits was absolutely incredible. Getting to the very top it felt like I
was the king of the world… looking out across the whole of Tasmania
it felt like.” Much like the joy we’re sure she feels when getting spat out of a hollow 10ft monster, we’ll have to take her word for it.
Sally down the home strait.
For more info on the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge head to the website.
And here’s Sally at here day job…
Pictures via Redbull