Ellie Pashley has spoken of her battle with the conditions during Saturday's Olympic marathon.
The 32-year-old, from Albury, crossed the line 23rd in 2:33.39 as all three Australians in the race finished inside the top-30 for the first time.
Pashley, making her Olympic debut, faced temperatures in excess of 30C and extremely high humidity on the streets of Sapporo.
She worked in tandem with fellow Aussie Lisa Weightman, who was competing at her fourth Olympics.
"I think we all raced a really smart race," Pashley said.
"I'm just so happy to be finished, to be honest.
"The last six kilometres were a bit of a death march.
"Lisa and I were together for a lot of the race and running conservatively early on.
"That was the key to getting to the end."
The former North Albury netballer, who started her running career in Little Athletics at Alexandra Park, did not look out of place among far more established runners in Sapporo.
Pashley's team-mate Sinead Diver, now 44, ran a sensational race to finish 10th in 2:31.14, while Weightman was 26th in 2:34.19.
"We've all got a huge amount of respect for each other," Pashley, who studied at Xavier High School, said.
"Lisa and Sinead have done amazing things in their careers and they are huge role models for me."
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It was a Kenyan one-two at the head of the race, Peres Jepchirchir taking gold after making a late burst to see off the challenge of her compatriot, Brigid Kosgei, the world record holder.
Molly Seidel, meanwhile, ran a brilliant race to deliver a surprise bronze medal for the United States.
Weightman praised Pashley's debut effort in such oppressive heat.
"All the girls did amazing and we stuck it out," she said.
"It did feel like a battlefield when we were all getting ready, ice baths, ice towels and the works.
"It has been an experience that we will never forget."
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