Hanny Allston loves running in wild places. The notorious running bug courses through her veins, and when she’s not running, or competing at the elite level, she’s talking about it as a coach and outdoor athletic shop owner.
Allston has been described as an extraordinary runner, with an inexhaustible capacity to run, some of her recent achievements include a new women’s record for the 6 Foot Track Marathon; a podium finish at the World Orienteering Championships in Scotland, Oceania Skyrunning Champion, a top 10 finish overall at the Ultra Trail Australia 50, and recently named as part of the Australian team for the World Trail Championships in October. PHOTO: Hanny Allston competing in the World Skyrunning Series, Dolomites, Italy.
Proudly hailing from Hobart, Tasmania, Allston is the only athlete outside of Europe to have won a World Orienteering Title, completing a double Junior World Championship and Senior World Championship in the same year.
But it’s not only records and elite titles; Allston simply loves that chase for the essence of perfection and personal challenge; competitive against herself, and ever curious of what she is capable of. With a long-time love of the outdoors, the swimming focus of her younger years has evolved naturally into a passion for long-distance trail running.
This August Allston is taking on a slightly different challenge, her second ever stage race; Run Larapinta - a 4-day, 4-stage trail running race along the spectacular and iconic Larapinta Trail, Alice Springs. And her Mum Julia Hutchinson is coming along for the ride – not to watch, but to take up the challenge as well, on what will be her 60th birthday, and run alongside her daughter. We caught up with Hanny and Julia recently to find out how the idea came about, and how preparation has been going.
PHOTO: Hanny Allston and mother Julia Hutchinson cycling in Sustenpass, Switzerland in 2011.
How did you first get into running, and did you always love getting offroad?
Hanny: I used to run amok on our organic hobby farm south of Hobart where I grew up. But I was a competitive swimmer and our coaches used to have us running 3-4 times a week on top of our pool sessions. I guess I realised I had a knack for running and loved wild spaces, this flowed beautifully into trail running, orienteering and athletics. I run because I love to experience the world around me and escape from the busyness of life.
I also get to work with the most extraordinary people doing extraordinary things… from athletes to race organisers, tourism, national parks… I love the Gone Running Tours we conduct but I also love educating people and the challenges of running a business.
Julia: For me running hasn’t been a lifelong passion. I started my sporting life as a swimmer and only began running when our family started orienteering when I was in my early 40's.
I would try to run the orienteering courses and found that despite my swim fitness, I would finish every weekend race stiff and sore. So I went and bought some running shoes, and started jogging up the hill near home. I found I enjoyed it and gradually got stronger until I was finally able to run my one and only marathon when I turned 50 in the mountains of Ladakh, in northern India.
What are your favourite places to run?
Hanny: Tasmania - anywhere and everywhere but I do especially love Cradle Mountain and our alpine regions. Running the Overland Track last winter with my partner Graham is one of my favourite running memories. Just being out there with him in a playground that feels sacred to us both was incredible… snow everywhere, stars in the morning, warm day, no one on the track… trail running heaven! I would love to spend time on the North-West of Tasmania in the wild regions called the Tarkine. I can’t believe that this area is not protected by any National Parks, Reserves or World Heritage Areas as it has some of the last remaining stands of temperate rainforests, wildest coastlines, heathlands and Aboriginal midden sites.
PHOTO: Hanny Allston, Cradle Mt. Summit (PIC: Glenn Williams)
Julia: My favourite places to run are always in the bush. I cannot manage two steps on the road!
I have never run with music or earphones as I just love to listen to the sounds of the bush and the music of the birds. It is always a time for quiet contemplation.
So, how did the idea of racing at Run Larapinta together come about?
Hanny: Mum was my taxi service and huge support through my early swimming days. She was a record holder nationally in swimming too. Then our family all became involved in orienteering. Mum caught the trail running bug and has been adventuring lots, but her main love is mountain biking. These days she often rolls along next to me on a bike whilst I run. It is her 60th birthday this year and my 30th, so it is wonderfully fitting that she was so eager to come to Larapinta with us!
Julia: I rarely enter sporting events unless they really capture my imagination and offer an opportunity to participate in something that would be hard to achieve on my own. Hanny and I have participated in the same overall event in the past many times, but she is usually in an elite class and I am an age group participant. As Hanny was going already with her partner Graham and their business Find your Feet, the opportunity was perfect for me to come and also share the time with them. Run Larapinta also coincides with my 60th birthday and it struck me as an amazing opportunity to both challenge myself and see a part of Australia that I have not seen but have always wanted to visit.
To read the rest of the interview with Hanny and Julia, CLICK HERE.
Hanny Allston is the founder and co-owner of Find Your Feet, an outdoor athletic shop incorporating trail running, hiking, climbing, travelling and outdoor lifestyle equipment and apparel. Their motto is ‘Wild About Trails’. Hanny Allston and Find Your Feet are the official training partners of Run Larapinta.