What Is the Six Foot Track Marathon Race?
The Six Foot Track Marathon is an annual marathon race in Katoomba, NSW Australia to benefit the Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service. Read on for runner Tom Scott’s experience of the 45 km trail, plus his advice for planning your race.
What is a race report?
At Team RunRun, we know that working towards a race is a great motivation for running. That said, not all running events are created equal. Our athletes report back on their experiences so that you can figure out which race is right for you. Read on for a breakdown of what you can expect from the Six Foot Track Marathon!
Race: Six Foot Track Marathon
Runner: Tom Scott
Race Date: 3/13/2021
Location: Katoomba, NSW Australia
Results: 78th overall
Strava Activity Link: https://www.strava.com/activities/4936646582
3 Bests – What aspects of the Six Foot Track Marathon race did you like the most?
1. The course – one of the most famous walking tracks in Australia. It goes through everything from dense rainforest to open paddocks with multiple river crossings and beautiful views the whole way
2. The atmosphere – even though spectators were limited there were people everywhere cheering runners on, and very rowdy aid station staff
3. The finish – coming down a steep single track into a narrow valley lined with heritage buildings and music / spectators cheering very loudly
Not so much – Were there any aspects of the Six Foot Track Marathon race that didn’t do it for you?
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this marathon?
After about the 15km mark, there is an aid station literally every 1-2kms!
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
Despite never running the Six Foot Track Marathon before, I researched the course and planned / executed the race almost perfectly. I felt good and ran well right to the end, and cramped about 10 metres past the finish line!
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the Six Foot Track Marathon race to help the next runner
The first 15km of the race down to Coxs River are mostly downhill, and it can be easy to run this too fast and blow up your quads. After this there is about 12km of constant climbing so you need to pace yourself at the start.
This worked well for me as I was in 175th at 15km and finished 78th, and was only passed by one runner in the second half.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Doing your research and having a race plan / splits for a new race is really important and can make a massive difference.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the Six Foot Track Marathon race?
After the 15km descent and 12km climb, the rest of the course profile looks relatively flat, but its not! There are still plenty of rolling hills and some short sharp climbs on the Black Ranges you need to be prepared for.
Aesthetics – Is the Six Foot Track a pretty race course?
Definitely, beautiful mountain and valley views the whole way.
Difficulty – Is the Six Foot Track a tough race course?
Yes. Despite only having around 1500m of ascent over 45km you are feeling it at the finish!
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
The race is one of the oldest in Australia and is extremely well run. The start/finish are excellent and there are more than enough aid stations! As far as I know it’s the only race in Australia that has a lottery, and its popularity is partly due to how well its run. This year was difficult due to COVID but they did an excellent job.
Competition – Is there a strong field?
It’s recognised as the most prestigious trail race in Australia and attracts a very strong field. The top runners from around Australia are always there.
Logistics – Does the Six Foot track Marathon race require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
There are both qualifying standards and a lottery to get in. So if you want to enter you need to start thinking about it 12-18 months in advance so you can get a qualifier down before the lottery opens.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Aid stations galore! It feels like there is one every kilometre or so in the second half of the race. This year due to COVID they were restricted with only water, Tailwind, Coke and Bananas but that’s enough anyway.
Weather and typical race conditions
It can vary greatly being in the mountains in summer. It can be very warm and humid (this year – we actually got a thunderstorm late morning) or freezing cold.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
Unlike most Australian races there are no mandatory gear requirements for the Six Foot Track Marathon race other than a cup or flask. This is due to there being so many aid stations. Technically you could get away with not carrying anything other than a handheld bottle, but I prefer to be self sufficient and limit time in aid stations. In the mid – back of the pack they can get busy so best to carry your own nutrition.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Yes there are plenty of great places along the course spectators can stop and cheer. The finish line (post COVID anyway) is probably the best finish line in Australia for runners and spectators.
How’s the Swag?
Great – medal, t-shirt, towel and a bag full of food for the drive home (it’s a point to point race).
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
5 stars – I’ll be back every year if I’m lucky enough in the lottery.