TOM O’HALLORAN


Age: 24
Home climbing area: Mt Coolum, The Pulpit, Mt Tibrogargan

When did you start rock climbing and why?
I started climbing when I was 12. When I was little I was always climbing everything I could. Trees, buildings, lamp posts anything that was more than a couple of meters off the ground. I loved it. I used to watch Tarzan then run down to the mango tree in the backyard and try and swing around like him! Mum and Dad saw I loved climbing and so decided to sign me up to a kids climbing program at the new climbing gym that had just opened up in Brisbane, Urban Climb. From then on, I have been hooked. I had always been a really sporty kid, you name it, I played it and loved it all. But none really blew my hair back like climbing has. It’s impossible for me to put my finger on what it is about climbing that keeps me going back for more. It’s probably because it’s more than one thing. It’s the people you meet, the places you go, the experiences you have and what it teaches me…about me. It just feels natural. It’s where I feel most like me.

Favourite crag?
That depends on the day I want to have and what I want to climb. Locally, it’s hard to go past Diamond Falls, Elphinstone, Mt Coolum, Frog Buttress and the Ukulore Valley. If we are looking for something overseas, it’s hard to go past Ceuse in France!

Climbing highlight so far?
Probably the moment I drove my old Volvo, chockers with all my stuff, into the Blue Mountains from Brisbane with the idea of having a crack at living and climbing in the best place in the world. It’s been an incredible 5 ½ years.

On the cliff, I think it would have to be when I climbed the first ascents of Kitten Mittens and Baker’s Dozen. Those routes required a lot from me, both physically and mentally. I love how climbing allows me to really push through those boundaries. It’s really satisfying. But there are so many other climbing moments that stand out for all sorts of different reasons. Climbing has given me such an incredible life soo far.

What have you noticed about how food can impact your climbing day and your training:
Food is our fuel! It is crucial you put the good stuff in. I have learnt a lot from Amanda about what to eat and when to eat it. You need the energy to perform well and to continue performing. Amanda tells me the right food for recovery after a hard session or what to pack while hanging on a wall for hours and hours. The world of food is a crazy one full of misinformation and fad craziness, it’s awesome to have someone teach me about the right stuff!

What inspires you:
Having a crack. People that have a go are very inspiring for me. It doesn’t matter if you succeeded, for me, seeing someone step up and have the courage to fall is the thing that inspires me.

LOU CLIFTON

Name: Lou Clifton
Age: 45 (omg)
Home running area: Mount Victoria Blue Mountains

When, how and why did you start running?
I ran a bit at school but nothing serious. Then I did a road half marathon in 2011 to tick it off the list of things I’d like to do. I trained for five weeks using a program off the internet. But I was very into rock climbing so it was just something to keep the fitness up. Then in 2014, I met an Dutch ultra runner who stayed with us through Airbnb and was inspired by his plan to run 45km through the  Grose. I’d walked it all but never in one go and never run any of it. He suggested I did the Glow Worm half and as it was in five weeks and I knew I had trained for a half before in five weeks I decided to do it. I think I came 3rd in my age group and 13th female and I was really happy to finish it. That was 2015. I thought I’d enter a few more races whilst I had done a bit of training, so I did the Woodford to Glenbrook 25km and then Bilpin Bush Run 33km. I remember I went straight to the crag after running my longest ever distance at W2G. I was still a climber! I was keen to see what I could do with some ‘real’ training so I started going to Brendan Davies’ Up Coaching track sessions on Thursday nights. In 2015, I spent a month climbing in Turkey and dislocated my finger. I could still climb but when I got back I was told to let it heal. I got a coaching program from Brendan and entered TNF50 (now UTA50), which was not long after I got back, and came 9th female. Then I started to train properly (daily) and gradually had no time or energy to climb or train for climbing. I really miss it and get out occasionally still but am on a different track at the moment!

Favourite distance?
I haven’t really decided on one. The distance creates a different race and experience and I get different things out of them. Long runs take you on a journey and shorter ones demand more effort/speed. The environment, or the course if it’s a race, is more of a factor for me than the distance.

Running highlight so far?
I’ve had such an amazing few years. Firstly, the people I have met through running have been my top highlight. I have made some really good friends and met some lovely people – sharing a crazy early morning start and then a run through a beautiful place with someone is the best feeling. Being able to travel and experience a different place through running has also been incredible. I travelled with climbing too so it’s just really nice to be able to experience a different world through running. I love that I can see a lot when I run!

What have you noticed about your race nutrition?
So what has been really helpful to me has been to have a plan and not be vague about what I’m going to do in a race. I would have a pretty good idea but was not scientific about it. Amanda has helped me understand that I need to stick to my plan! I missed my support crew at the Hounslow Classic last October because I was early. I left the aid station not knowing what I would do as I did not have any of my nutrition for the next 4-6 hours and that is a very tough part of the race. Because of planning with Amanda I knew exactly the amount of carbs and calories I needed and instead of avoiding the stuff I struggle to get down in a race, which would have been a very bad idea, I forced myself to take in what I could get at the next aid stations. I think I suffered a bit in that section but if I had tried to tough it out it would have been a disaster. Also, I am far more specific with my carb loading plan now and that gives me confidence that I have prepared the best I can before going into a race.

What inspires you?
I am inspired by people who follow their hearts and passion despite obstacles or naysayers. Who don’t listen to those that say it cannot be done or that they cannot do something. When I was quite little, maybe 8 or 9, I saw a documentary on Terry Fox and it had a profound impact on me. I was very moved by it. Last year a friend mentioned a book they were reading, and it was about Terry Fox. It was amazing that this childhood memory of the documentary came flooding back. I read the book and it’s just incredible. Terry Fox, a teenager who had lost a leg from cancer and been very ill, decides to run across Canada. It was decades ago now but is even more incredible that it happened in the era that it did, the prosthetics were terrible for example. People who have that kind of drive and conviction, however big or small, inspire me. I think because it comes from a truly authentic place and that is something I really respect.