Six Foot Track Marathon 2008
I drove from Port to Sydney on Friday, then up to the mountains with my parents where we stayed at my Aunt and Uncles place at Blackheath. The storm during the night was unexpected, as was waking up to low cloud, light rain and cold temperatures.
After getting to the start shortly after 7am I had well over an hour until my wave. Was interesting to catch up with a few people and watch the first three waves charge off over the edge before it was our turn.
I was near the front of wave 4, and had a nice relaxed run to the top of the stairs. I was pretty happy with the descent, as it was a comfortable slowish pace, which meant a safe trip down without being stopped or slowed too much other than at a couple of the trickier spots.
From the bottom of the stairs (15-20 mins) I settled into a nice easy pace mindful of not going too quick in the early stages. It’s nice open trail to Megalong Road, which I hit in 55 minutes, before crossing the fields followed by the more technical descent to Cox’s River. I was in a small spread out group for some of this section, so I had good sighting ahead of me (unlike the much tighter conga line during Megalong Mega), and easily cruised down to the river in 1:45. The river was under waist height. I made a quick stop at the aid station to refill the bottles, grab a gel and a quick snack.
The next hour and a half was the climb up to Mini-Mini and Pluvi, punctuated by the descent to Alum Creek. I walked pretty much all the uphill other than the short flatish parts. As I was approaching the top of Pluvi I could feel the lower inside part of my left quad tightening up a bit, but nothing too serious.
Top of Pluvi was 3:26, where I stopped for a quick change of socks and various drinks, some food and a salt tablet. I was thinking as I approached the station that my feet actually felt fine, but putting a new pair of soft dry socks on just felt great. I think I had a bit too much to drink there, as I could feel it all sloshing around for the next 20 minutes or so. I’d been having a gel every hour, an endura drink, as well as regularly sipping water and sports drink, and the odd piece of power bar. The aid stations were amazing well stocked and well manned.
The rest of the race was a bit of a nightmare thanks to the quad cramps. I’m very grateful to BernieG, who happened to come along just as I’d been stretching and gave me some salt tablets, which was a lifesaver as the previous aid station had run out of them. Part of my problem was that I’d never had cramps anything like this before, and in particular never had any issue with my quads whatsoever in the past. I didn’t really know what to do, or in fact whether I’d make it past the next hill or not.
A fair way up Black Range I worked out what was happening. Mostly the cramps were coming on when I slowed to walk up a few of the steeper hills and when pausing at an aid station. I found that if I kept running the cramp tended to fade away, as though the extra motion was shaking it out and loosening the muscles, particularly after the salt tablets. So seeing as I was actually feeling fairly strong apart from the cramps I ran as much as I could, but of course there are a few sections that I just couldn’t – most notably the climbs just before the Caves Road crossing. I had a fair bit of trouble there, and lost a lot of time stopping to stretch the legs on the way up. Once I was over the road I had a final stretch of the quads just after the Binda Cabins aid station and ran the rest of the way. My legs were fine from there as it’s pretty much all downhill, and that was the last of the cramps. It’s certainly treacherous going down the narrow path with the drop on your right.
It felt great flying down the walkway into the valley, seeing and hearing the crowd, with the announcer calling everyone in. That final descent is incredible, just the best finish to a race that I could imagine and made it all worthwhile. Down the bottom I turned the corner, high fived Owly and crossed the finished line in 6 hours 7 minutes, where TA was waiting with a hug and to steady me while they removed the timing chip. Mum and Dad were waiting just past the finish, as was Hamburgler who was long finished. I was a bit shattered and emotional at that stage. It was just such a relief to get to the finish after the last 2 and a half hours of pain (on top of the other 3 and a half “good” hours!) and uncertainty as to whether I’d make it all the way, plus the fact that 2 years ago I’d planned to run Six Foot this year and it had finally come to fruition. I can really appreciate now what a tough race it is.
So many people I spoke to had really fantastic runs and posted some great times.
I guess what happened to me seems to be a fairly classic Six Foot case of too quick to the river and then Pluvi for the training I did in the lead up. Perhaps, as I did feel like I’d done a bit less than I should have. Even though I was very comfortable to those points in the race, perhaps even more conservatively would have seen me in better shape for the back half. Even so, I’m fairly happy to have given sub 6 hours a shot as I did, crashed a bit but still finish close enough to my goal time. At least now I’m in a much better position for a more serious crack at it next year, hopefully carrying a few less kilos and giving it the full respect it deserves. That gives me a year to prepare a better training program and race day plan for the 14th March 2009. How exciting!