Lou Clifton can cross another thing off her bucket list –completing her first 100 mile race.
The Mt Victoria runner was the first female in the 160km Alpine Challenge in Victoria on November 24, and finished third overall.
The race is described as the toughest, most challenging, most spectacular and rewarding mountain trail run in Australia.
Running through snow and at an average height of 1500m or more, Clifton completed the course in 19 hours 2 minutes and 18 seconds, behind winner Nikolay Nikolaev (17:51:50). Anne Bennett from Valley Heights was third female (27:36:46).
The course route was changed due to the amount of snow, which provided its own challenges.
“You can’t see what’s under the snow. It feels like sand running in parts,” Clifton said. “Sand saps your energy ’cause you’re having to pull your feet in and out.”
The Mt Victoria runner estimated the temperature at between zero and 5 degrees, and combined with the wind chill factor, it would have been sub-zero.
She wore long tights, and a t-shirt with arm warmers and a merino wool top, pulling out a rain jacket as the skies opened and waterproof pants when her legs began to feel the icy temperatures.
“I’m really glad to have the experience of doing a miler,” the 46-year-old said.
“I was really happy to finish third overall.
“I felt reasonably good actually for most of the run. I started to feel that ‘this is feeling really hard now’ about half way around the last loop – about 40km to go.”
When she picked up her pacer Steph Auston on the last loop, this energised her and spurred her on.
“I had really good support from the community while I was running – it means a lot,” Clifton said.
Clifton would like to undertake the Alpine Challenge again next year, this time on the original course.
She has an Italian-based coach, Stefi Jimenez, and also does some coaching locally for Serotonin Running.