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Six Foot Surprise

I am, of course, very pleased with the way things panned out yesterday in the Six Foot Track Marathon. After last year’s cancellation there was a lot of hype about the 2013 event and it seemed to be a very strong male field. However, as often happens, as race day approached there were a few late withdrawals and some other surprises during the race. Among the starters, the ones I expected to be fighting for the podium were Alex Matthews, Chris Truscott, Dan Green, Andy Lee, Mick Donges, Sam Walker and Robbie Neill. All of these (with the possible exception of Donges & Lee??) are significantly faster runners than me, so I was pretty much resigned to running my own race for time and hoping to claim a few scalps on the way. My best hope was that a fierce race at the front would result in a few blow-ups.


The start was the usual mad scramble. The cold air made my eyes water and I was blinking like crazy trying to see where I was going, but I managed to get onto the stairs in 7th spot. The leading 4 (Walker, Neill, Donges & Lee) charged off leaving me stuck behind a couple of slower descenders I didn’t recognise. Towards the bottom I was able to squeeze by and stretch out on my own for a bit until CT caught up a few minutes later. I ran behind Chris all the way to the river at a comfortable pace with just a few glimpses of the leading group going over Pinnacle Hill. There was quite a lot of water in the creeks so our feet were getting wet every few kilometres. In just under 65 minutes we reached Cox’s river where the water was higher than I’ve seen on race day before – above my waist anyway, and with quite a strong current. I was glad of the rope.

Once across the river Chris and I climbed side-by-side for a while until Andy Lee came into view. I chased him down and Chris slipped back. After passing Andy I could see Mick not too far ahead, so I gradually closed the gap and caught him coming out of the Kiangatha Yards. We ran together for a while up Mini Mini but by the saddle I seemed to have dropped him and I descended alone to Alum Creek, had gel #1 and continued the climb towards Pluviometer. At this stage I was up into 3rd place. Not far up the hill I spotted Robbie Neill ahead and alone. I knew he’d gone into the race with a bug and he looked like he was struggling. It didn’t take too long to catch him and sure enough he was looking spent. He said Sam wasn’t too far ahead so I pushed on, making the most of my relative strength on the uphills. A few kilometres later, as we approached Pluviometer, I spotted Sam about 150 metres ahead. I passed through the Pluviometer aid station 40 seconds behind him with a 57:36 KOM split. Sam was moving well and for a while I didn’t seem to be gaining on him. But then I noticed that every time the incline increased I narrowed the gap slightly. So that became my strategy: hold the gap on the downhills and flat, close the gap on the uphills, and if I kept it up long enough I’d be sure to catch him by the Deviation hills which are always a big test! Luckily I didn’t have to wait that long and halfway along the Black Range I caught him and we had a quick chat. I pushed on and Sam didn’t go with me so then, for the first time, I started worrying about the fast guys I hadn’t seen yet. I was pretty sure Alex, Dan and Chris would all be finishing strongly and I was starting to tire. I had gel #2 and tried to stay relaxed but focussed.

The Deviation hills were as bad I expected, and there were more hills than I remembered, but I seemed to have just enough strength left to run them all. On the final climb, just before the road crossing, there was a small crowd of spectators and it was great to get a cheer from the legendary Frank Dearn. I’m afraid I was too puffed to even acknowledge it. I staggered across the road and dived into the bush again. I was now starting to get a sniff of victory but I was also getting a side-stitch and some twinges of cramp made worse by the irregular steps and winding single track. There’s an exquisite tight-rope to negotiate in the final stages of Six Foot: moving as fast as possible without driving the legs into full-blown cramps. I think I’ve got it down to a fine art! After a few over-the-shoulder glances I couldn’t see anyone behind and before long I was onto the final descent. The track here was much rougher than I recall previously. The rain had washed away a lot of sand leaving loose rocks and uneven rivets. To be honest it wasn’t even aerobically taxing because I couldn’t run that fast. I was just concentrating on where my feet were going and trying to keep my cool while listening for footsteps behind. It’s a long steep descent, but at this stage of the race (and especially when you’re leading) it goes by in a flash and before I knew it I’d reached the paved path to the Caves. Swinging around the top corner I nearly floored a Japanese tourist and then the cowbell started ringing – I knew I’d done it. The last few hundred metres are just great. I’d forgotten the amazing adrenaline rush of leading this race into the finish. Hearing the noise echoing up from below and fanging it down to the line on jelly legs! At the bottom Amanda was there with the kids looking really excited and it was just fantastic.


Sam came in 2nd four minutes later, followed by Mark Green, Mick Donges and Alex Matthews. But run of the day for me was Don Wallace in 6th place pulling out a 3:37 aged 51! Incredible. The HuRT Squad did us all proud winning the teams event by almost 18 minutes with an aggregate 23:32 (first 6 runners all under 4:13). So now I’m not sure what’s next. I have entered the SMH Half and the Glow Worm Tunnel Marathon. I have first refusal on a North Face 50k entry too, but I think I’ll see how I pull up before making any definite plans. I am barely mobile today so if the DOMs are worse tomorrow I could be practically bed-ridden.


Garmin data (spot the river crossing!) and major splits here:

Start 00:00:02 0.0km 00:00:02 30 10 27
Water Crossing 01:04:45 15.0km 13.90 / 4:19 01:04:45 6 4 6
Pluviometer 00:57:36 10.5km 10.94 / 5:29 02:02:21 2 2 2
Caves House 01:24:02 19.0km 13.57 / 4:25 03:26:24 1 1 1


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  1. 2013-03-11 at 3:12 am

    Simply tremendous Tony, very well done mate!

  2. Flake
    2013-03-11 at 7:39 am

    Congratulations Tony. Great run. Didn’t realise we went that slow across the River. It was cold water though.

  3. 2013-03-11 at 9:06 am

    That’s so brilliant! I love that photo with Amanda and the kids in the background

  4. Johnbo
    2013-03-11 at 11:46 am

    So impressive Tony. I saw you climb the hill to the RFS station at about the 30 km mark 4 kms out from Deviation, with Sam about 20 metres behind you on the hill. You seem to float up that hill, and although i am sure you didn’t think that at the time! Inspirational effort.

  1. 2013-03-11 at 9:39 am

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