The Alpine Challenge 100 miler took place in the Victorian alps region, last weekend. This event is notoriously difficult due to the unpredictability of the weather. You are forewarned to expect rain, hail, sleet, fog, snow, heavy winds and also extremely hot sunny days. Talk about all seasons!
The weekend event hosts a 100 mile (160 km), 100 km, 60 km, 42 km, 25 km, 16 km and 10 km. With the option to participate in a team, relay style or SOLO. For this article we will concentrate on the 100 mile (160 km) beast of a course involving climbing Mt Feathertop, Mt Hotham, Mt McKay, Spion Kopje, Mt Nelse and Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong, plus five river crossings. A total ascent of 7,600 m.
Over the years we have seen the course altered numerous times due to heavy snowfall and bushfires with the starting a finishing point varing. Over the years 34 – 50 percent of athletes DNF (did not finish) not including one year where they made the call to not record them. The Antarctic Blast, dumping knee deep snow in 2018 meant the course was adjusted to out and back loops. The result of this has forced race entrants to meet the following criteria.
‘The Alpine Challenge should only be attempted by experienced trail runners with good navigation experience and experience in running in all types of conditions. As a minimum, endurance runners attempting the course must have, in the last 2 years successfully completed; 100 miles—at least one organised trail ultra of 50-75+ km or 12+ hour rogaine’ (www.runningwild.net.au)
Talk about pressure, not only should you meet the above requirements but you are also required to actively run the event – Hardcore runners only.
This year, the course included 9 checkpoints, 3 to accommodate drop bags for interstate entrants. At the bare minimum the checkpoints include water, chips and sweets, with others also including electrolyte, tea and coffee, soup, noodles and fruit. With this race you are required to carry the usual mandatory safety gear for overnight events. Waterproof clothing, thermal clothing, map, gps or compass, two head torches with batteries (one is a back up), phone with spare battery cell first aid kit with all the essentials, food, emergency food (if lost), water and loads more. You can see the full list here on the website. This race is not for the faint hearted, you must be able to use a compass or understand and be confident with your GPS. Yes you can get lost which is incredibly dangerous in extreme weather conditions.
‘In recent years having had a couple of runs in really bad weather I have questioned whether in fact my list is actually too small and in fact are we becoming too blase and complacent, not only in events but also in our training runs.’ (Paul Safety Blog)
Trail running always has its risks. It is important to never underestimate the course or what could happen even on short training runs. Paul Ashton of Running Wild, instills this deep appreciation for safety with his blog and support with fundraising for the Alpine Search and Rescue Group. In the last few years, trail safety is always touted. This is because even the most experienced trail runner can encounter difficulties that unfortunately lead to death. Only a few months back, Andrea Huser, an extremely experienced athlete, slipped and fell in her own backyard (Swiss Alps) while on a short training run. Do not let yourself become a statistic. We cover safety in great depth within our HOW TO RUN AN ULTRA – A GUIDE ON RUNNING YOUR FIRST ULTRA (E-BOOK).
Regardless of the risk, this event still brings entrants from all over. Last week’s event had a great turn out. Thomas Dade said the weather ‘conditions were just perfect!’.
Of the 45 entrants for the 100 miles, 13 were classed as DNF. There were 30 men who successfully completed the course in varied times from 22 hours, 26 minutes to 40 hours, 47 minutes. Two women, who times respectfully being 31 hours, 50 minutes and 35 hours, 26 minutes. The full list of participants can be found here on the Alpine Timing website.
The Running Klub would like to send a huge congratulations to all the participants, the support crews and of course the race organisers. It is fantastic to see these events taking place post-Covid. Bring on the November challenge!!