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Talking trails with Lou Clifton

Lou Clifton has such a long and inspiring run resume, and especially for someone that has only been on the trail scene for such a short period of time.

2019

  • 2nd Ultra Trail Mount Fuji 100 miles (AC win)
  • 5th Six Foot (AC win)
  • 9th Ultra Trail Hong Kong 100

2018

  • 1st Alpine Challenge 100 miles (3rd overall)
  • 1st Hounslow classic double (1st and 10th)
  • 1st Five Peaks Ultra
  • 1st Mudgee marathon
  • 5th Tarawera Ultra Trail (AC win)
  • 8th Six Foot
  • 11th Lavaredo Ultra Trail (2nd 40-49)
  • 42nd World Trail Running Championship 85km (2nd 45-49)

2017

  • 1st Great North Walk 100km (3rd overall)
  • 1st Mount Solitary ultra
  • 3rd UTA100 (AC win)
  • 4th Six Foot (AC win)
  • 8th Eiger Ultra Trail

Lou was selected for the Salomon Ultra Academy Training camp in Utah in 2017 including Behind the Rocks 50 miles (5th female, AC win and AC CR)

So we could all but be in awe of Lou! On top of this, her most recent feat was her amazing run at Ultra Trail Mount Fuji. Such a prestigious event on the Ultra-Trail World Tour pro series. So while we have her, let’s find out a little bit more about Lou’s experience in Japan and a quick chat about all things trail.

Lou, you’ve just come back from an amazing run at UTMF. Congratulations.  What was the atmosphere like at this event and can you talk us through your amazing podium finish? “There was a great vibe at the event. It was tough for the organisers and volunteers and support crew because of the bad weather but spirits were high! I came across a couple playing instruments at the top of one of the climbs in the dark, cold and wet – that was pretty amazing and very motivating. I was third female until around 150km when I was caught by the Japanese runner Kaori Asahara. I was not surprised as my husband Steve, who was supporting, told me she was making up time but also that the French woman Sylvaine Cussot in second was slowing. When I was passed I was a bit sad but I just tried to keep motivated and focused and stay with her. We were descending and she ran really fast – my quads were too sore to keep up. But when the road started to undulate she slowed and amazingly I caught up and passed her a few kms from the final aid station. When I got there with 11km to go I saw Sylvaine sitting down. I just said to my husband Steve ‘I have to go!’ swapped flasks and left, then just tried to move through the next climb and descent as fast as I could! I had hiked up the last descent and recced the last few kms so when I finally reached the top of the climb I knew the course from there. I think that helped me to push with what I had left (not much!). Steve thought I was in 4th as that is what the app said and so when I got to the finish he just about crushed me. I was a bit shocked and exhausted so it was good he was there to help me realise what had happened! “

You haven’t been running for long and I can see that you have a love for rock climbing.  What started your ultra running journey Lou?We used to do Airbnb at our house and a Dutch ultra runner stayed – he was planning to run through the Grose Valley and we helped him plot his route. I thought it was amazing as I had hiked it but never run it! He told me the Glow Worm half marathon trail run was good and it was in five weeks so I did it. I think I came 13th and 3rd in my age group. After that I entered a few more races because I wanted to keep up a bit of running and I was doing OK in them so I thought ‘I wonder what I could do if I trained properly’. That was when I approached Brendan Davies who was my coach for the next two years. The next year (2015) I climbed for a month in Turkey and dislocated a finger. When I came back I did TNF 50 finishing 9th female and winning my age group! After that running took over and I gradually stopped climbing purely from a time and energy perspective. I miss it a lot but I can only commit to one sport right now!

So many can only dream of being fit enough to let alone determined enough to run such long and challenging ultra events. How do you keep yourself fit and motivated to do the training and distances that you do? I am motivated by being outside in nature, pushing myself and just by knowing I will feel good after a run (and hopefully during!). I love running with my friends too – social runs are really important to me because I mostly train on my own. My job is demanding and running really helps with dealing with stress. I have a great coach (Stefi Jiminez) and I am motivated to commit to what she has spent time programming for me and by being able to give her positive outcomes for the work, and trust, she has put in. She is a similar age to me and an Italian VK and sky runner so we have really bonded and we inspire each other with what we can do in our 40s!

Do you have a specific nutrition plan that you follow?I don’t follow a specific diet for running although I am now conscious of getting enough protein, and fuelling with carbohydrates and protein after training. I became vegan when I was 14, and then vegetarian and now pescatarian because I feel that provides more varied protein. I don’t like milk but I eat cheese and love Greek yogurt. I try to eat unprocessed foods and make as much as I can from scratch – but it is not always possible. I do the best I can. I love dark chocolate.”

What is your typical nutrition you take during your endurance races? “I aim for 50g of carbs an hour and use Tailwind and Endura drinks, Endura gels and Clif Bar shot bloks. I have been trying to eat more ‘solid/real’ food like bars and purees recently but I do struggle to eat in races sometimes.”

Do you have any specific training tips for runners to help them through their first race trail run? “Pace yourself, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing – run your own race for you. Have a few goals in mind that are not time or pace related. Enjoy it, smile, look around, focus on being in the moment and on your breath – and know that low points will pass. Each race you learn a little bit more for the next one – about running and about yourself.”

© Kurt Matthews / marceauphotography

How do you balance your work, personal life, training and racing schedule? “It is super hard and tiring because I am trying to fit a lot into each day – too much sometimes. You have to sacrifice other things in your life – I had to give up other interests I had like climbing, volunteer work and studying. I have to plan my week out carefully if I have travel for work to factor in not just running but going to the gym and I have been trying to do yoga again too. My house is a mess most of the time! I have a very supportive husband. I couldn’t do it without him.”

You’ve raced in so many beautiful places, what has been your favourite race? “I love the European mountains so would have to say Lavaredo and the Eiger for the scenery and the superb climbs. The Dolomites is one of my favourite places and I am sure I will do Lavaredo again as I had a few problems in this race. But I still loved it. I loved the Ultra Easy and Mount Difficulty in New Zealand and the Hounslow Ultra – all hard but stunning mountain courses. UTMF has to go on this list now, for the challenge of the distance, terrain, weather and battle at the end.”

What is on the horizon for the next 12 months? “I might do a road marathon for a bit of fun as I would like to see what I can do on a flat and fast course! I’d love to do Ultra Trail Cappadocia but not sure if it will be possible this year. I now have a qualifier for Hard Rock, which is a dream race. I’d like to do Bogon to Hotham and also the Northburn in NZ. But I haven’t really decided on the next 6-12 months yet!”

Please give a shout out to your sponsors. “Summit Gear in Katoomba has supported me almost since I started running so a big shout out and huge thanks to Rob. Thanks to Salomon, Suunto and Tailwind Australia for supporting me. I coach for Serotonin Running and Blue Mountains Fitness so massive thanks to Lyndal and Tony for making me part of the awesome running communities they have developed in the Blue Mountains.”

We thank Lou for her time in chatting to us. We are very much looking forward to having her up in Brisbane in July and running the BTU 30km – a much shorter event than we are used to seeing her in.

Happy Trails from your team at the Brisbane Trail Ultra- Shona, David & Cora

A speedy moment with Aaron Knight

Aaron Knight needs no introduction to all things steep. UTA 951, Buffalo Stampede KOM, and a huge list of races with “Mount” in the name, Aaron has conquered. Let’s find out a little bit about what makes Aaron climb.

You’re a very accomplished runner. What got you into trail running?
“I grew up near some trails and l always ran everywhere as a kid. Then wherever I have lived since I have looked to run trails to help stay fit and relax the mind.”

Your runs range anything from hard fast hills to ultras. Do you have a preference? “Yeah I enjoy racing everything from UTA951 in 9 mins to Ultras. I enjoy the challenge of training for different style courses and duration of races. But new trails are the best trails!”

You’re a very busy man. How do you fit training in with work, life and racing? “I’m Dad to Soleil (13) & Magnus (10) and they are my priority. I also work & run for La Sportiva and that involves lots of travel and office time. But I still find time to get out. But not as much as 13 years ago….”

I’m excited to return to Brisbane for the first time in years. I went to University in Brisbane and loved living & running there. Thanks to BTU for giving me the opportunity to return!

Aaron has run all around the world. Can you tell us about your favourite race? “My favourite race is my local mountain race the Mount Bogong Conquestathon. It’s a 20km mountain running race up the highest mountain in Victoria (1500m climb in 8k) and back down again. It’s a beautiful course, always a tough race and has a great event vibe.”

5. Do you follow a particular nutrition plan? and what would be the differences in this when racing long versus short distances? “I love to be healthy and good food is a big part of that! For moral reasons I have also been Vegan for 3 years and Vegetarian before that. It works for me. I’m also  a Clifbar athlete and they are my before, during & after race nutrition no matter the race. (As well as bananas, Coke & Ginger Beer!)”

6. Do you have a certain recovery routine? “I stretch after every run and have some quality food if I’ve trained hard. After racing I like to eat Ginger biscuits and drink Ginger Beer until I feel like eating a meal.”

7. What is your favourite running kit? I’m very lucky to be sponsored by companies that cover all my running needs:

  • La Sportiva Australia
  • Mundsocks
  • Clifbar Australia
  • Bogong Equipment
  • Squirrel’s Nut Butter
  • SAXX Underwear

What are your plans for the next 12 months?

  • May –  Ultra Trail Australia
  • June – Trilhos Dos Abutres in Portugal
  • July – Brisbane Trail Ultra

Then Surf coast Century, Hounslow, Hume & Hovell & Bright 4 Peaks.

“I’m excited to return to Brisbane for the first time in years. I went to University in Brisbane and loved living & running there. Thanks to BTU for giving me the opportunity to return!”

Thank you Aaron for taking the time to chat to us. We’re very excited to have you join our ever growing strong line-up of running legends in Australia and we look forward to see you show us how the BTU 30km should be run!

Thanks again from the Team at the Brisbane Trail Ultra – Shona, Cora & David

cover photo credit: Brett Hemmings

T8 Typhoon Wear

T8- Typhoon Wear

The Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival Team is super excited to announce that T8 – Typhoon Wear will be giving our 24 vouchers at our Brisbane trail Ultra Festival presentations on the Saturday the 7th of July.

T8 Typhoon Wear is deigned and tested in Hong Kong one of the most humid places to run in the world. It is these extreme racing and training conditions that has inspired the development of the T8 Typhoon Wear, super light weight and fast drying ultra trail race kit. We think the T8 range is perfect for our hot and humid Brisbane Spring, Summer, Autumn conditions.

Our lucky 100 Mile podium male and female runners will all receive a voucher of $200 HK dollars (postage included on online delivery) our 1st place 30km 2 person relay, 1st Place 60km 3 person relay, 1st Place 110km Relay will also receive this fantastic prize.

There is heaps of trail running kit to pick from on their website. Waist lights, light weight compression shorts, race shorts, race phones, trucker caps and I heard there is a new women’s range that is about to land in June…….stay tuned for more updates on their every growing range.

Getting to know Isobel Ross

We are very excited to have Isobel along as an elite race ambassador for the BTU 60km event! What an exciting race this will be with Sam Burridge and Steph Auston also in the mix for the overall podium number one! As a Melbournite, we’re guessing Isobel is coming up to Queensland to enjoy our milder winter sunshine running weather so let’s stop guessing and get to know a little bit more about Isobel.

Isobel, you have a long list of running achievements under your belt, what was it that got you into running? “I took up running a few years after I had kids because I thought it would be a great way to get fit.”

Image may contain: Isobel Ross, standing, mountain, outdoor and nature
CCC 2016

Isobel has run all around Australia and internationally. She boasts a first Australian female at the CCC 101km 2018 in Switzerland. We ask: with all these races, what has been your favourite race and why? “My favourite race so far was the first time I represented Australia at the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships, the Jungfrau Marathon. It was the first time I travelled to race and it was an amazing experience.”

Isobel at the Jungfrau Marathon 2007

You’ve been at the top of the running game for a long time.  What is your secret to staying fit? “I love to train and race, so keeping fit is not a problem.”

Do you follow a specific nutrition plan to keep you race ready? “I try to eat a healthy balanced diet. I do not believe in eliminating any food groups as this will lead to deficiencies in some area. I eat clean most of the time, but do allow myself the occasional treat.”

Endurance running is tough on the body and the mind.  What has motivated you to train and compete at the highest level for so long? “Sometimes even I don’t know!! I think I just love the challenge of pushing my body; seeing how much I can push myself. I also love being out in nature.”

You’re a primary school teacher! that’s a pretty full on job.  How do you fit training and teaching and family life in? “It can be a tough juggle. My kids are older now, but need me just as much. I tend to have to train very early in the morning, I’m often up around 4am just to fit in my training. The hard thing is, you can’t be tired when you are teaching. The kids need me to be there 100% for them, and working with kids is emotionally and mentally draining, as much as I love it. I have also recently started my own coaching business as I am passionate about helping runners achieve their goals.”

Isobel is so passionate about helping runners achieve their goals she has started her own coaching business

www.peakendurancecoaching.com.au

What are your goal races for this year? “My A race for this year will be the Great Southern Endurance Run 100 miler in November. The BTU 60k and the Barkley Fall Classic ‘50k’ (if I can get the time off work!!) are stepping stones to developing the fitness and strength for this race.”

Isobel at the Barkley Falls Classic 50km 2018

On the note of running the Barkley Fall Classic 50km, you also tackled the elusive Barkley Marathons this year!! Wow, no finishers at all. Can you tell us about your experience there? “Barkley was amazing! It was almost surreal because I had been wanting to do it for about 10 years! It was a tough course; navigating off trail is not easy! I met lots of great people so it was all worthwhile. Although I finished the first loop, I had timed out so was really disappointed. I plan to re-enter and hopefully I get in again so I can redeem myself!!”

Isobel at Frozen Head State Park

Please give a shout out to your sponsors! “I am sponsored by La Sportiva. I absolutely love their shoes; with the long races I do, that’s really important. I have also recently taken up indoor climbing and bouldering so am loving their climbing shoes too.”

Isobel at the Buffalo Stampede

What is your typical/favourite running kit? “I love the La Sportiva Helios. I like to wear long shorts for comfort and La Sportiva singlet or t-shirt. I love Wright socks too.”

Run for the love of running. It’s an awesome sport with a fantastic and welcoming community

What advice would you give someone that is looking at getting into running? “Not to ramp up the kilometres too quickly, and to mainly focus on developing consistency. Also, to run for the love of running. It’s an awesome sport with a fantastic and welcoming community.”

Thank you for your time Isobel and we can’t wait to see you in Brisbane and racing the Brisbane Trail Ultra 60km.

The BTUF Team- Shona, David & Cora

Mandatory Gear Checks thanks to Wildfire Sports & Trek

We are now only 2 months away from the inaugural Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival!! And I hope you are all as excited as we are.

We are getting all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed so to make race weekend run as smoothly as possible for you. Pre-race weekend mandatory gear checking is now open.

Wildfire Sports & Trek have kindly taken on this important role of helping the Brisbane Trail Ultra runners stay safe. If you need any advice or if you require any gear, this is the place to go.

Find my mandatory gear list here

Head over for your mandatory gear checks any time from now until 1st July 2019 to get your gear checked to avoid the line up at registration.

Where: Wildfire Sports and Trek location
When: Please see the website for opening hours and drop in

The Team at the Brisbane Trail Ultra Festival thank Wildfire Sports and Trek for their support.

Happy Trails and happy training from The BTUF team- Shona, Cora & David