Six Foot Track Race Report
Well what a day in the Blue Mountains. 45k from to Katoomba - Jenolan Caves along the six foot track, well it's the quickest way. By car its 72km.. Only makes sense right :)
But a challenging 1600m elevation journey with a river crossing to had to the joy of what six foot brings. Well a 7am start, wave 1. Arrived the night before at 9:15pm. Thanks to Colm and Maree for hosting us for the weekend. Was up in the am with some banana bread and sip of tailwind for breakfast. A little 1k warm up with Colm, Lon, Clare and Linda and made my way towards the front of the start-line. Good to see lots of friendly faces on the way through ready to tackle the track.
It's a crazy dart to the narrow passage through the gate and straight down the hill before the 2k down the stairs, so positioning is critical at this point, pushing through carefully hitting the down hill and almost slamming into the back of a few runners as 2 runners lost their water bottles, note have them secured before dated down a hill with 100 people and don't stop dead and turn to run the against 100 runners down a steel hill :) I hope that tips helps. No stress got through that and down the stairs where the front pack got a gap. Was behind Marnie Ponton and she was a little cautious down the stairs but not to worry it was the beginning of the race and a technique section so was relaxed and steady until we hit the open fire trail. To which she is a 2:31 Marathoner so I knew she would pull away on the flat section anyway. the next 10k is mostly fire trail and slightly downhill or flat with a few hills when you hit the paddocks. Was running between 3:50-4:20 and in control. Was wanting to stay relaxed and save as much energy as I could before Cox River. I knew it had only been 4 weeks since Tarawera miler and I knew my legs were still a bit fatigued and was hoping to be ok for the climbing. Hitting the single track and I had bridged back the group that I had let go on the flat section and held with them through to Cox River when it begins. The river as I was told chest height, so as we know I'm a little vertical challenged :) so was almost at my neck in the middle of the river. no issues pulled through and a quick stop to refill my 250ml bottle with Tailwind (0-15k - I had used about 150ml of Tailwind)
The Climbs begins and was running mostly for the first couple of kms but then I stared to burn and went to hiking and running. I would run to a point where I felt my heart rate rise and then hiked to get it back down again. There were a few runners that were trying to run the whole way and I would catch them running and then drop a little hiking but was saving energy. A couple got a little away but I knew at about 30k it flattens out and is runnable so I didn't want to have no legs for that section. 20-30k was quiet challenging, those doubts crept in and the pain on my quads started to burn. I also don't think my head was mentally prepared to dig too deep yet either, as I had UTA and UTMB in my focus. Not wanted to bust myself and loose too much time training for the UTA. So pushed along a fast and efficiently as I could. towards the end of the climb Ingrid had passed my just as I was overtaking Marnie Ponton, so she went into the leading female position, she looked really good. I stopped to refill my 250ml soft flask with Tailwind 3 times between 20-30km.
Reaching the runnable section and was in a good flow the legs felt ok and hadn't been burnt from the climbing, I bridged a few runners and was pulling more in that I had seen early in the race. Wasn't losing any places at this stage, 5k later was a different story, the lose rocks and recently laid sand made it hard running, slightly uphill and the ground falling and sliding underfoot made it hard to get a rhythm and the hamstring were starting to load up and tighten. Soldiered on through again stopping 3 times between 30-40km for tailwind. Energy was good, was topping up in prep for the last few hills and didn't want to get depleted. I kept changing the bottle in my hands each kilometer at this stage to try and take my mind off the pain and use it to count the kms down in my head. Stange what you do to try and take your mind off things :) 14-13-12-11-10k to go..
Pushing now for the finish. Legs were sore and I just focused on my breathing to make sure I didn't get a stitch or bonk. The volunteers were amazing as usual and having so many aid stations along the way really makes it easy to fuel and keep on top of the energy levels. The final few kms and before you hit the road crossing you have 2 steep climbs to get out, I was able to run one and run, hiked the other, over taking a few more runners and crossed over Jenolan Caves Rd and onto the single track and stairs, slightly up hill again and the legs were stinging, knowing I had pulled away and nobody was gaining on me, I had who was ahead to push me through and fought to see who I could pulling. I missed a turn in the final 2k, only ran an extra 20m before I realised I missed the stairs to my right. Back on it and sipping the last of my tailwind. Finally hearing the bells, you thought you were almost there but no down a hill getting chased my the announcer asking for my name to call ahead :) turn around the back of the cottages, up a little incline :) the last one and finished 4:19. Just after the leading female for a 27th Placing.
Thanks to Tailwind for making the day possible. The fuel I used for the day was all tailwind. 0-15km was the 250ml bottle I packed from the start 1 and half scoops of mandarin. I refill the 250ml bottle 4 times between 15-30k, roughly every 5km and then for the next climb x 2 refills 30-35k. The final 10k I filled up at 38k and 42km. I was roughly having sips after every 1-2km while using the strategy to change the hand I held the bottle in to then use that a cue to take nutrition. Plus had a a bottle of Tailwind Recovery, Salted Caramel for straight after the race to aid the recovery process.
Happy with the race and the result, went in for a sub 4:30, i think my time in 2019 was 4:27. So a PB and off the miler looking forward to now take this into the block for the UTA 100. Thanks to RFS, the volunteers and supporter all day on course. The running family for the support and getting to celebrate with you all. So many great results out there. Thanks to Nicole for letting me get to do what I do :) The SNL squad for the push and inspiration. the Pure Performance and FootMotion team and Perskindol. and the others that make it all possible. Thank you Six Foot Track.