Travelling to Spain this month will not only be a physical challenge for Lou Clifton, it will be an emotional journey as well.
The Mt Victoria runner is one of six selected to represent Australia in the Trail World Championships.
I expect the terrain to be mountainous and challenging, but beautiful with tiny villages and churches.Lou Clifton
Held in the Castellon region of Spain on May 12, the 85km event must be completed in under 15 hours, and will challenge the world’s best trail runners across mountainous terrain.
“I am really excited and proud to be given this opportunity,” Clifton said. “I am humbled and honoured to be a part of the Aussie ladies' team running with experienced and strong runners Gill Fowler, Robyn Bruins and Jessica Schluter.
“I expect the terrain to be mountainous and challenging, but beautiful with tiny villages and churches.”
While she hasn’t run in this part of Spain before, it holds many dear memories visiting her grandmother who lived to 96 in the area.
“She had an amazing life as an actress in theatre and an artist, and we were very close. I will visit the village she lived in and where her ashes were scattered, so it will be very special to me,” the 46-year-old said.
Clifton only entered her first trail race in 2014, and a string of success at the world-renowned Ultra Trail Australia competition held in Katoomba each May has followed. In 2015 she was 9th female in the 50km event, third in the 22km event in 2016 and third in the 100km last year. She was also selected to represent Australia in the 2016 Trail World Championships but couldn’t attend due to family commitments.
While overseas, Clifton will also race the tough and technical Zegama marathon in Spain in late May. “There’s usually terrible weather and thousands of locals lining the winding, single trail to cheer the runners on. The atmosphere will be unbelievable. I can’t wait for this one as it will be so much fun,” Clifton said.
Then it’s on to the Lavaredo Ultra Trail in the Dolomites in Italy in June. The 120km event through the mountains features 5800m of elevation.