Six Foot Track - Race Report

by Trevor Jacobs (2003)

Well - what can I say - the day went really well! I couldn't believe it when I hit 2nd spot near the top of the 2nd big climb, and then tried really hard to hold it over the rest of the course - as 2nd behind somebody like Paul Arthur is a really great place to be! During the event I couldn't help think that you guys would love it too - rough, rocky demanding with lots of hills and single track etc, and cow paddocks (with the odd big bull here and there to watch out for) and river crossing.... The stuff you would all excell at. You gotta do it!!

The gory details are:

Saturday early am I caught the bus to the start and str away the drive through the cave was awesome! Mario from vets filled me in on some of the things to expect as we drove along, which proved handy later. The start area was a very busy place, but it all went smoothly afer a long queue for the toot. Had a little warm up jog down the first few hundred metres just to sus out how steep and rocky the first mad rush would be.

We started a bit late after the speeches etc (they raised $22,000 for the fire service, which was amazing). The start was the mad rush everyone said it would be - I went out solid but not mad, and had a few close shaves where people would suddenly jump in front of you to get past. But I didn't want to go too hard, and was happy to see Paul Arthur going slower than me, so I settled into what I thought was about 12th to 20th position at the top of the stairs. Down the stairs went pretty steady at about the pace I felt comfortable with, despite being behind two people - if I was in front of them I probably wouldn't have gone any faster, so things were fine. And I felt good about knowing I was somewhere in front of Paul, as later I could see how things were going with him as he passed me.

Got to the bottom of that big decent feeling good, and put it in a bit to get past a few people. I can't remember much more about that bit of the race except that all that I concentrated on was what I thought my position was and counting it down as I slowly passed runners. We got through to the rougher bits and whne we were in the cow paddocks Paul and a group of 3 or 4 came past, making my position go from about 8th up to 12th or so. I didn't try much harder to try and stay with them. Paul gradually pulled away, and I noticed that his following pack got strung out too. I managed to stay behind 2 of them for a long while, without busting my gut too much - they would drop me a bit on the uphills, and I would peg them back again on the single rough track bits and especially on any downhill bits. I felt really good on the downhill sections and seemed to move much faster than them.

Oh, and at the start there was a hippy guy running in only a g-string (and running shoes) - what a cac!! As you probably quessed, somehow he seemed to always close to me (am I a magnet for these people?) and I couldn't shake him off. He kept getting in front falshing his cheeks at me but I wasn't lookiong, I was trying to race and drop him off. The aid stations would all crack up when we came through!! It took forever to lose him, and this didn't take place until just before Cox's river.

Back to the story, one of the two I was then running with was Darren Benson from S Striders, and just before Cox's River crossing, he hooked a rock and took a spectacular tumble off the side of the track under a prickly bush. I stopped briefly whilst he scrambled back up on the track and he was ok thankfully. Then three of us came to the river, and the other two seemed to hesitate a bit about how to get across, so I just ran str past them and ploughed through the deep water near the rope. The water was really clear and nice, and not too sandy in the shoes luckily.

Then we set off up the first big climb. I took it steady all the way and noted that Darren got a good break on me and the other chap (about 50m) but that the gap thereafter didn't get much bigger, so that was heartening for me cos I thought they'd pull away from me the whole way up. The other chap was alternately walking bits then running faster than me to catch up all the time, all the way up. Another chap caught us from behind too and then stayed with us. At the top I was a bit behind the other three, but I felt pretty fine, and saw a nice big downhill. So I took off and passed all of them saying something about liking the downhill as I passed them. I must have flown down pretty well because when I got to the bottom, they were quite a long way behind. I thought I was in about 4th place then.

Being 4th gave me real incentive to try and hold onto that place, as its almost a place in the race which would be a good result. So I tried harder on this climb than the last climb, and hoped to hold off the other 3 but didn't really expect to. Half way up they hadn't come past, nor could I even see them, so that gave me real heart, and I tried a bit harder still without going beserk. Then I spotted somebody walking way up ahead, and then thought that was a good sign. I caught him pretty fast and went str past no worries.

The hill went forever, and again I got a huge surprise when I saw somebody else up ahead walking. I put it in a bit more and soon caught and passed this person, who seemed to be suffering quite a lot, covered in sweat. Hit the top feeling pretty good still. I stretched out a bit on the first few downhills, and it felt fine, so the strategy then was to try and capitalise on the downhills, by going as fast as poss without going beserk, and then trying to hold it reasonably solid on the uphill bits. It seemed to work, as nobody came past, although I was always worried about it happening - which was a spur.

The undulating bits were good, and not too hard. I'd been warned about another really bad steep bit somewhere after the pluviometer, but I didn't really notice anything that bad. Although with about 10km (I think) to go there was one longish bad uphill where I fell over - it seemed to take it out of me for the first time up here. I fell frontwards onto my hands after hooking my Cliff Young style shuffle on a root, but didn't do any damage luckily or strain anything, and used it to spur me on more cos I had visions of losing time. I had thoughts all the time of the urgency of pushing on as somebody would be coming through soon surely??

The last few stages of the race were tought - they seemed to drag on and on. The time went into the 3.20's and I was hoping to see the last downhill soon, but it took ages. There were some real nasty short uphills there, but some great single track downhill bits too. So I flogged myself on the downhills, knowing I was losing time on the ups. Had a few peeps behind, as could sense somebody coming, but saw no one - thank god for that!

Then I hit the really steep downhill section and knew it wasn't far, so really put it in flying down the rought stuff. Surely it'd be hard to get caught now - I was hoping?? Then onto the hard rock path down the caves area was terrific as my legs were still fine going down there - so that was a great feeling. Could see the finish area, and heard an announcement of my name, so gave a few waves and the crowd seemed to like that, whixh made me feel good. I fairly flew down the gradient, and down the last steps and around the corner to the line - boy that comes up quick once your there. Crossed the line 2nd in 3.42 and felt pretty good still in the legs, which was a bit surprising for me.

So overall, it was a result that I had only dreamed about before and never really expected. And then it happened, so it was pure heaven. The next chap (Jonathon) was only a minute behind, so he must have been closing in fast I think over the last 10km (will have to see the splits to see how it panned out). Paul beats me by at least half an hour in a marathon so being about 11 mins behind him was great.

My training and racing beforehand was not so good, so I am thrilled with the result. But I guess the fitness did seem to pick up a bit over the last 2 weeks, so it came good right at the last moment. Maybe also the mtn bike riding helped out with a hilly event like this? Probably.

There you have it - a real nice surprise really!!