Saturday, March 16

Six Foot Track Marathon 2013 race report

I'll say this up front such that whoever is reading this will know who they're actually dealing with: I did not train for six foot track. I qualified for it with a 4:00 hr ROAD marathon and did a lot of short runs on steep to very steep trails, mainly because I've lost my running partner but also because I suck at maths and I'm just lazy I guess to train by myself*.

I went into this with lots of negative thoughts and anguish, doubting myself every step of the looong way in. I went so far as to register for a half marathon to ensure I get over the depression caused by me not finishing 6 ft.... I was so convinced I would not finish! San brought me back to my old self on the day before the race when she said "this is not like you', and I guess at that time everything shifted into race mode and I was positive again.


I flew into sydney on Friday morning and took the train to katoomba. On the plane I read Dave M.'s "9 out of 10 climbers make the same mistake", which gave me with sweaty palms for the whole trip.

Arrived at katoomba and the Carrington hotel just as the organizers were getting stuff ready. Helped one of them carry things from the race car... Could not help but notice how very few females were there. And also, just how fit the men were,WTF?!! (And surprisingly, the very fit men had very unfit wives!! But I digress..) The organizer was saying that the river was at its third deepest depth since the race started... Sigh. Butt fatt makes you float I guess...

Registered, got my bib, and decided to buy a white cap (probably the best decision ever!) and then went to check in at the flying fox.

Talked a bit to the owner, expressed my fears for like the zillionth time, and went to carb up!!

I carbed up with a bucket of soup, some garlic bread, and a salmon bagel, and read my book for two hours or so. Browsed some shops and went back to the hotel.

Prepared the stuff for the next day and went to bed.


Woke up at 5:20 and started to get dressed. Put body glide on every spot on my body that could get chafed. Decided NOT to wear my lucky underwear but wore the race top and shorts. Opted for a knee guard an the ankle guard on my right foot. With this armor on, I moved on to the food: eight energy gels, six snakes, six ginger sugar cubes. First, I tried to put them all in my sports bra. This did not work very well because it turns out they weigh quite a lot and I am not use to that kind of weight around that particular area, ahem - balance is important in races like this!! Second, I tried to use the race belt that Dood gave me for Xmas, but I was afraid I would loose the snakes and the ginger - THAT COULD JUST NOT DO! In the end, I ran with my hydration pack: it fit my cap as well and just felt safer.

Started the two km walk to the start line, but luckily I got picked up by a runner that was taking a cab: it was damn cccccold!!


Because there always is one, I had come up with a plan: 2 hours to the river (15km), 2 hours up to The Pluviometer (11km), 2 hours to the finish (19 km). But of course, what I was really hoping for was: 1:40 to the river, 2 hours to Pluviometer, 1:40 to the finish (my PB for a half marathon is 1:45, so I was not entirely delusional... HA! )


It was a slow trod down Nellie's Glenn - I was stuck behind somebody that was super super slow: I didn't mind that but nevertheless I was very keen to overtake her, which I did after we came down from  the Glenn. I overtook her and started running "the flat bits", all 8 km of them. A good thing I had not taken my phone with me, because I would have stopped so many times to take photos: the scenery was BEAUTIFUL!!! Absolutely beautiful! You could see the blue mountains cliffs in the backend, green slopes and all... There were horsies and cowsies and even kangaroos! Absolutely beautiful! This is where my stupid grin started and it did not get off my face until the finish. I was not running fast, which  explains why the slow lady that was in front of me caught up with me again before the river, at the top of a hill. Again, beautiful scenery, blue sky, green fields.

 And the sweeper! Now, the sweeper is a 7:00  runner that ensures that the 7-hour cut-off is met. If the sweeper catches up with you, you're fucked. And so we caught up with the sweeper for the previous wave, and the lady had caught up with me. Fair enough, this was a sign: I decided to stick with her for as long as I could: this was her third time! It took me 1:45 to get to the river, and the water was not deep, only up to my chest.

Stupid grin status: On!

The race profile shows a steep steep hill up to a saddle, followed by a downhill for about 3 km, followed by another 3-4 km uphill. 11 km back to roughly the same altitude where we had started from, 15 km before. How hard could it be?

Well.. The first four km were the steepest running track I had ever seen in my whole life. I do not know how people actually run up them, but I had no problems in power-walking them. Power walking pace: between 12-13 minutes/km. Some people were actually trying to run this, but, they quickly gave up: fifth wave for the win, this means that you are not very fast to start with. And so we power-walked. This is where the cap saved me: the bare, steep steep red hills attracted deadly heat.

After four kilometres or so of PAIN, we reached mini-mini saddle - downhill heaven for about three km after it. Now, of course the plan said NOT to sprint this part, but of course I could not listen to the plan and so I sprinted, or what counted for a sprint in that race: 5:40 min/km or so.

And then we reached the steep part again. The last four km were the steepest running track I had ever seen in my whole life. As opposed to the steepest running track I had seen 3 km before, this was motherfucking steep. Steep like 4 km of Chambers Gully motherfuckers put together for four kilometres of PAIN. I was in constant pain: calf pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and, most importantly, quads pain. Pace: 15-16 min/km.

A guy overtook me at some point (power-walking, mind you): this was his 12th Six Foot Track Marathon, including the illegal ran he had done last year, when Six Foot was cancelled (5:45 btw, without any support). He commented on my armour, and after I explained, we had a bit of a chat for 15 min or so. Before he left me behind, he predicted that i would finish in 6:30! And then he left! Damn his black tights and green six foot 2012 t-shirt!

Time to the top of Pluviometer: 2:15. In total: 4hrs or so.

Stupid grin status: On!

Tired: YES!

There were many swear words going through my mind while on this part. It felt mostly like running on another planet. It was dry, red, and barren sometimes. There were three notable hills that I remember, but I am not sure as i was too busy listening to my quads going: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! or alternatively FUCK THIS SHIT!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAARGH!!

I wanted to run the hills but my quads didn't, so I power-walked them. Spotted an echidna and stopped for two or three minutes to just look at it.

Stupid grin status: On!

Tired: No!

Dead: YES!

This part was through beautiful green forest. It was awesome!! There was a motherfucker in the middle, the steepest one so far (but very short): 17 min/km on this one. Got overtaken by two ladies in tutus. Stopped at one of the fire trucks to talk to one of the fireys. My quads wanted to leave on the scree slope (jesus christ, a steep scree slope just before the finish!)  but by virtue of ligaments and other magik dust they still stuck on.

Sprinted to the finish.

Stupid grin status: On!

Tired: No!

Dead: YES!

*also, you can't train for power (for climbing) and for endurance at the same time. Just sayin'. D., feel free to roll your eyes now.


ionuca said...

You are one crazy incredible woman! Congrats!!!!! :)

claudia said...

Thanks Ionuca! It does feel like an achievement, despite the very very slow finish.

Anonymous said...

Yayyyyyyyyyy!!!! Woooohooooo!!!! Screw the motherfuckers!!!! Si Mi Lan Jiao!!!!!