Treading the Fine Line of the Six Foot Track Cutoff!

Treading the Fine Line of the Six Foot Track Cutoff!

While there was just a minute separating their finishing times at the end of the race, the emotions felt by both athletes couldn’t have been further apart. One athlete goes home with the prized Six Foot medal while the other is left to wonder what could have been…

However, as we read, races aren’t always about mementos. It’s about the simple act of training with your friends, loving the sport for the pure joy of it and giving it the best effort you can on the day and then having the resolve to come back and do it again!

Enjoy Race Reports from our Blue Mountains squad athlete Amelia and Hawkesbury Squad athlete Thuy.

Six Foot Track

The Six Foot Track is a 45km trail stretching across the Blue Mountains from the Explorer’s Marked Tree, near Katoomba, to the Jenolan Caves.

The marathon started in 1984 and follows the length of the entire trail.

The race is a not for profit event and all funds raised are donated to the Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service who man the aid stations on race day.

Each year the event has over 850 entrants completing the course on race day.

Thuy Twee

Six Foot Track Marathon is a love-hate affair. Love the race atmosphere and the people, the newbies and the veterans.

I am one of those runners who always finish with single digits of minutes left on the clock 6:5x:xx. I am always mindful of 7 hour cut off time! Having done this for the fifth year I have enough experience to know what times I should be at certain points on the course. And without fail my cramps will appear somewhere on the Black Hoodoo Range to slow me down. It was about 33k mark just before Deviation this year, a little further on than other years where cramps occurred much earlier.

Usually, I would arrive at Caves road crossing (38km) with 75-80 minutes left on the clock which I know I can comfortably finish on time even with cramps.
This year I had 65 minutes to run the last 7km. It’s a bit tight schedule given the undulations and the dreaded downhill at the end. I still think it was achievable. It’s the fastest I have ever run this last 7km in all the years I have done this race. Strava even posted a PR on the last downhill section. I really gave it all I had at the end in between spasms on my left thigh.

I crossed the line at 7:00:26!!

My first thoughts were: F$%^ this is hard, but still got there in 7 hours. I was told I was 22 seconds over but officially it was 26 seconds – neh!
Don’t think I want to go through this again.

It would drive me nuts if I were to think where I could have saved those 26 seconds so I won’t!

After getting home and had a bit of a chat to my mate Tova Ellen, I decided I will pursue my 6FT buckle however long it takes.

Amelia Musgrave

On Saturday 9 March I ran the Six Foot Marathon for the first time. My Six Foot journey really started in May 2018 during the UTA50 when I managed (with 1min and 44sec leftover) to score myself a qualifying time. I decided to throw my name in the ballot for Six Foot with no real expectation of being selected. I was selected. My heart sank. I knew at that moment that I had an enormous job on my hands if I was to get this race done in under 7 hours.

I was consistent throughout the training but all of my on-course training still didn’t add up to a sub-7-hour finish. It didn’t matter how many times I counted and recounted. However with the constant encouragement and faith from my UP Coaching family and of course the unwavering support from Coach Darryl I decided not to defer my entry and give the race a go. What’s the worst that can happen?

I knew that I needed to get a quick start and I was determined to get down Nellies and the single track as quickly as possible. Single downhill trail is not my strong point. I managed to get through this section and to Megalong Road in less than an hour – my fastest time ever. I was feeling good.

Megalong Road to Cox’s was another good section for me although I was being passed by other runners frequently. I wondered more than once how many more people could possibly be behind me. I didn’t overtake a single runner in this section. I reminded myself it’s not about other runners but about the clock and those sweepers were still nowhere in sight.  

Arriving at Cox’s and seeing the Wave 4 pacers at the aid station was a boost. I was there at 1hr 55min – 15 minutes ahead of cut off. Then the climb started.

I’ve done this climb many times and knew what I was in for, it was slow but I didn’t stop. Head down, one foot in front of the other and just keep moving. On arriving at the Pluvi checkpoint, I had lost 12 of the 15 minutes that I had banked in the first 16km. This is also where the Wave 5 pacers caught me. It was disheartening. They explained what their job was and that we were fine. No need to panic. Easier said than done.

The Black Ranges. I knew this was going to be my tough section and it didn’t let me down. I walked a lot of it. I kept a strong purposeful walking pace but those pacers just kept getting further and further out of view.  By this stage, I was determined that I would finish at Caves House but this section was where I had accepted that 7hours was slipping away.

Something clicked at Deviation and even more so at Caves Road, arriving there 9 minutes ahead of cut off but still knowing that I needed at least an hour to finish the last 7km – I had 59 minutes and 28 seconds. Kell told me it’s time to take some risks and so I pushed and ran and “galloped” down those tricky sections. We passed by a few runners navigating their way down the descents, all of us trying our hardest to meet that time.  I had done this section twice in training so I knew how difficult it was going to be on fatigued legs however, somehow, I managed my fastest time. 

The final descent to the finish was incredible the sound of the crowd and the cowbells will stay with me. I didn’t realise it was as close as what it was and I was just relishing the moment of finishing – I crossed the line in 6:59:12 officially – I got my medal, I got my certificate and I still had 48 seconds left over.

I can’t thank Kelly enough for staying with me, pacing me and having so much faith. I also owe a big thank you to everyone else who supported me through the ups and downs that is this race.

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