Official Trip Report Race Director – Paul Ashton
2012 saw records crash in the Alpine Challenge, Australia’s toughest and most scenic 100mile /100km mountain run in the spectacular Australian Alps.
Starting with a record number of entries 75, up from 32 the previous year, the event was beset by record rains in the Alpine National Park with over 500 millimetres being experienced in the 2 weeks leading up to race day. With three major river crossings to be forded this provided significant issues for the event organisers and the need to review alternate routes. Luckily recce’s of the rivers at 1.30am on the morning of the run saw river heights back to a safe level and the run able to take its normal route.
Starting at Bogong Village, 65 runners fronted the start line for an 0430 start with a 14km dash up Spione Kopje. Due to the heavy rains and winds runners had to weave a way through a mass of downed and tangled undergrowth, in spite of that the first runners came through covering the 1200m climb in just over 2 hours before heading off to climb Victoria’s highest mountain – Mount Bogong (1996m).
Simon Morcom, Andrew Vize, Matt Cooper and Clarke McClymont set a cracking pace taking only two and a half hours to get from Warby Corner to the summit of Mt Bogong. They continued this pace returning to Warby corner by 11.36am – just 7 hours after the run started having run over 50km and covered 3,500m of ascent and descent. The last runners reached Warby Corner at 6.30PM that same day!
From then on it was just a matter of seeing who would last and who would burn out as records continued to tumble. As night fell and runners passed Pole 333, a major checkpoint located on the windswept Bogong High Plains, the wind picked up and temperatures plummeted to below freezing. In the 30km between Pole 333 and Harrietville – now named “Mortien Alley” as runners dropped like flies, 8 of the 20 starters in the 100 mile distance – succumbed to fatigue, cold and loss of direction. Alpine Search and Rescue who had coordinated a training event in support of the Alpine Challenge responded professionally, and quickly located one disoriented runner and worked with event management in assessing and withdrawing another runner suffering from exposure around Mt Loch and Mt Hotham.
Runners were fantastic in checking into checkpoints and recording their times all through the night – although this meant that event support personnel were exhausted by morning as runners came through every 15 -20 minutes. With the dawning of a new day runners found their second wind and surged across the Fainters and back down to Bogong Village chasing a new record and aiming to break the 24 hour mark.
24 hours still stands, the cold and wind had done its work in weakening runners but in spite of that Matt Cooper took over two hours off his PB for the event and set a new course record for the 100 miles of 25.19! Kathy MacMillan was the first woman across the finishing line in a time of 37.45.
In the 100mile relay event, records crashed from 27 hours to 20.07 hours as Andrew Vize and Darrell Robbins pounded their way across the high plains.
Overall the 100mile solo event maintained its reputation as one of Australia’s most challenging trail runs with a 45% DNF result in the face of a strong field and ideal running conditions, once again demonstrating that this event is not one to be taken lightly.
In the 100km run Simon Morcom and Chris Carr smashed the course in 12.49 with Todd Jenkinson from Queensland leading the solo runner’s home in 19.51.
Most fun on the course was had by those participants in the 60km Alpine Experience, a 2 day introduction to trail running with team Suck it up Princess having a great time and finishing in a leisurely 15.19.
Special thanks to all the participants, event volunteers, sweeps and Alpine SAR and the team at Bogong Village for helping to make this such a great event.
Next year we hope to see Matt break his record and go sub 24 as he takes on a challenge from one of Victoria’s top mountain runners over the weekend of 16 – 18 March.
Event photos can be found at www.Dandyrunner.com/galleries and Erwin is happy to supply copies for runners and publications.