Six Foot Track Marathon

The Six Foot Track is a 45km trail stretching across the Blue Mountains from the Explorer's Marked Tree, near Katoomba, to the Jenolan Caves.

The marathon started in 1984 and follows the length of the entire trail.

The race is a not for profit event and all funds raised are donated to the Blue Mountains Rural Fire Service who man the aid stations on race day.

Each year the event has over 850 entrants completing the course on race day.

The 2020 race will be held on Saturday March 14th

Entries for the 2020 race will open on Monday December 2nd

Course Change For 2001

Posted Monday 5th February 2001

Most of you will be aware of the request by the Lithgow Police to amend the route so that it does not follow the Caves Rd as per tradition of 17 previous years. Many runners have given their considered thoughts on the matter, which have been greatly appreciated. (See below).

After much consideration, therefore, the event will from this year onwards follow the route of the official Six Foot Track which turns left off the Black Range Rd and crosses Caves Rd much closer to Jenolan Caves than the 2000 route. The race directly crosses the road and continues to Binda Cabins and then continues on the traditional course. The route is excellently signposted and is formed of mainly 4wd on the north side of Caves Rd, and single track to the south. If you are a hiker on the Six Foot Track, THIS is the route you would hike.

As regards the total time for the run and how it relates to the 7hr cut off time at the finish, you should be aware that the total distance run is a little shorter than today, but as it is off-road and hilly it will take a bit longer although the additional time taken is in the region of 2 minutes, as measured by Max Bogenhuber, 17-time finisher and approx 6 hour pace runner today. Therefore we do not wish to change the course cutoff time for this year. We do recognise that if you are a runner right on the 7hr cutoff time you will have to train just that wee bit harder !

The aid stations in that area will also be similarly adjusted eg there will be an aid station at the road crossing, and spectators should still be able to park off the road at that point and watch their runners (there is quite a bit of parking there).

We do not want to make a habit of changing the traditional route, but this change has been pretty much forced on us as a result of increasing pressure of the last few years. We will not see a need to make such drastic changes in future. We will welcome any / all feedback AFTER this year's event.

Runner's thoughts on the course change

These thoughts were before the 2001 event was held. Most feedback seemed to appreciate the new route after the event. See here for post-race feedback

Kevin Tiller There is a good chance that pressure will be brought on the race committee to amend the Six Foot Track Marathon course for 2001 and onwards which has remained largely the same for its entire history. The official Six Foot Tack does not now continue along Caves Road but crosses the road and follows a parallel fire-trail to the Binda Cabins. The police force have disliked our use of the road for some time (for safety reasons) and would prefer us to use the fire-trail for much of the 5km route. Negotiations are still proceeding but will be finalised well before race day. Feel free to add your views in this forum or ask any other questions relating to this topic and I will answer them for others to read
Michael Burton Just a short note to comment on the possibility of a change in course towards the end. I'd be more than happy to see this - the road section towards Jenolan has always taken something away from the run so heading back to bush tracks can only be a good thing!
John Lindsay I've finished this event 3 times and intend to do it again this year. I've also separately done the trail section running parallel to Caves Road starting from the relatively new shelter about 500 metres before Caves Road running parallel along the eastern side of Caves Road then crossing Caves Road and running parallel to it up to near Binda Cabins. I found this stretch very hard due to the significant number of steep hills which have effectively been negated by the cut and fill of the road-making process. My last three times for Six Foot have been 6.29 6.54 (1998 - a hot year) and 6.23. I also have one DNF (my first attempt) when I missed the final cut-off by 2 minutes and withdrew as per instructions. I estimate that the trail alternative to Caves Road would add at least 15 minutes to the last stage of the race for me. On the basis of the above I would have failed to finish in 1998. Every year I get 2-3 minutes slower over a distance like this according to the masters age charts so I'm naturally interested in anything which may impede my capacity to finish in the allotted time. I like trail running and the Caves Road section has always seemed out of place for Australia's major off road trail event. My preference would be to move the event off the road and make the final cut-off time 7.30 to compensate (and to let the last few people who have struggled so hard to get there finish officially).
Peter Cook I've done the race the last two years and I don't like that road section so bring on the fire trail. I find being so exhausted by then that the road just helps me realise how worn out I am. I need distractions not a nice straight smooth road.
Kevin Tiller "John Lindsay's point is very valid - "make the course harder and more people will miss the cutoffs". In reality the last cutoff time is 5:40 at the Caves Rd junction which will obviously remain as it is before the amended section. This is the last point at which runners will be removed from the course. Continuing past this point will ensure that you will get a finish (assuming you don't drop out of your own free will). However you may or may not make it under the 7hour cut-off. If you are under 7hrs you will get your medal. If you are after 7hours you still get to finish but you don't a medal. The race committee will then evaluate amending the official cutoff times/rules for the following year and this certainly does not guarantee a change will actually occur."
Alf Field I have run The Sixfoot Track 10 times missing just one event in the last 11. I would find it very sad if the course is changed. Perhaps the passing years have made me averse to change but they have also made me appreciate the importance of tradition. The course is tough enough already and to make it even more difficult at such a late stage is unnecessary and may be counter productive in that it could reduce the popularity of the event in future years.
Steve Urwin I've run the race 6 times and the road is generally my least favourite section. If you can make a trail run all trail then why not. I wouldn't anticipate the extra trail would reduce popularity of the event on the contrary it may well improve it. I don't think that John Lindsay's point is just about cutoff times but the ability to finish and get a medal for your efforts. If the race committee feel that the extra trail adds 10 or 15 minutes to the time of a 7 hour runner then they should extend the official time by that amount.
Robi Hancock-Russell I have run the race 9 times with times ranging from 6 hrs to 7hrs 02 mins and one DNF. I always use the road to catch up time but I also see the point of having tired runners on a busy road. We haven't lost anyone yet but therecould always be a first time. To avoid that the track sounds like a good idea. However as I am getting older and hopefully wiser I feel it would certainly add time. It would be great to have the cutoff extended from 7 hours to whatever the race directors feel is a fair thing. It is my favourite race and I think the organisation is fantastic. The firebrigade and their families do a wonderful job out there from dawn for hours watching head bangers and saving a few lives all day. Will be happy with whatever you decide.
Jim Screen Why wait until someone is injured or killed before changing the course. Cut off times may be easily extended and additional drink stations included without much trouble. Many runners when they are hot and tired do not have any manners or thought for drivers . I have seen runners on Caves Road force drivers to swerve because the person refuses to run on the shoulder of the road for the few seconds it takes a car to go by. The new alternative sounds perfect to improve the safety of every competitor.
Joel Mackay I am all in favour of going off road onto a fire trail. The road section is less interesting than the bush and can be very hot too - black surface no shade...
Leon Harradine Six time six footer--It will be great to get rid of the road but Oh! those steps and little sharp dips on the new trail. The cut-off will certainly have to be amended to make it fairer for the back enders
Mark Hill "I am a 6 times 5 finished 6ft Tracker and enjoyed all but one. I recently walked Helgate Gorge and came back along the official Track. It certainly is more picturesque and appealing to off-road runners. As previously mentioned by other contributors the Road section is: hot; boring; seems much longer than ""5kls"" and dangerous (for some). I suspect most would agree that it is such a relief to re-enter the forest and bush track at the Cabins that the Road section would not be missed. The proposed changes have my support however cut-off time my need to be reviewed." All the best to all 2001 entrants.
Greg Tegart As a veteran of Seven Sixfoot Tracks if you are going to push the runners on to the dirt track next to the Caves road with all its ups and down ( and if I can recall there are a few bush stairs there as well ) may be you should consider changing the cutoff time back to seven and a half hours.
Barry Rutter I am not an authority on Six Foot having only run last year. I have no problem with the road as it is but I can understand the Police maybe not wanting it. As people get very tired and hot after 40 odd k's they may wander around on the road rather than keeping a good line. If this is a possibility for some then maybe the track is better and safer.
Warwick Selby There you go! I have done 9 Six Foots and didn't even know there was a trail parallel to the road. Why haven't we done it before now? I agree with all the comments made about the safety of the road not just from cars but from heat with the black tarmac and lack of shade.
Simon Davis "I'm a two time runner (6:52 and 6:41) so hearing that a potential 15 minute addition to one's time gives me heart palpitations!! I know that ""just finishing"" should be enough but I really want that medal - they have pride of place pinned to my workstation in the office." I appreciate tradition what with the seven hour cutoff but perhaps this time Kevin/Chris could extend it by a little if the course is changed. If the seven hours limit is to get all the runners off the course by 3:15PM perhaps we could start 15 minutes earlier? Just a thought. Looking forward to March 3...
Diane Clementson Having done a few six foot tracks now I don't mind the change off the road but have to agree the cut off may need adjusting. It may also allow supporters a place to watch / encourage etc in the last few k's which has been difficult/dangerous on the road.
Gregory Osborne I have only ran the course 4x's. Not many The reason why I liked the old course is; It has all different types of terian. When you reached the tar road. As a bush runner you know one has to ignore the pain of the road because behind you a good road runner comes up and passes you shuffling the field around like a pack of wild cards. Makes daring feet for the last 5.6Km of bush track. As the track turns into boldering stones down hill. Gives a willing dissable body a last chance to pass the less daring.
Brian Rensford Just do it! Off the road! More places to pee... We had an 8 hour cut off for years (with a later start too!). Since the 7hr limit was imposed we have seen some perfectly fit experienced but slower runners black-flagged - with hours of daylight left. Makes no sense. Go back to 8hrs and add the trail in. Many of the comments here agree - shade over tar anytime - even if there's more bumps and some stairs. The event is still growing; keep abreast with wave starts etc and there's no reason why it can't defy the falling numbers trend prevalent elsewhere...

1- That the route not be taken fully down Black Range Road but directly towards Jenolan Road at the forestry area (as it once did….and now should). Continuing across the road to the camp ground which could be used as the new muster point (there is shade parking picnic tables and a public toilet at this site). Shortening the route slightly to make up for the extra time spent running off the road…..The route can continue down this side (off road) directly out of this site.

2- The route be taken down the clearly marked SIX FOOT TRACK DEVIATION. Again shortening the route further but probably not the overall time taken to do the event with the expected ‘off the road proposal’. The muster point would have to be moved to Kiaora Hill further down the track since space at the road crossing is limited. The advantage of this proposal is that it comes out on Jenolan Road a couple? of kms’ closer to Kiaora Hill and Minimizes hassles caused by the “off road proposal”.
A safe alternative ...
May I say that the “off road proposal” is causing a stir amongst the experienced 6 foot trackers I mix with. Most of the drama is based upon the lengthening of the course and the effect on personal times ( and cut off times). Personally I believe the loop around forestry is now ( with the new proposal ) a waist of time And literally runs in the wrong direction. The course should be more direct. Any drama will blow over within a couple of years as new times are established BUT… the route should be “set in cement” for the the foreseeable future after the change is made…. Or the drama will snowball……….Simon


I Have visited above area 3 times recently to determine this contribution towards your decision. My CHOICE (1) is to LEAVE AS IS. Is the race organization and celebration fully stretched now with a 7 hour cutoff and time spent with the new staggered start? Are firecrews currently returning late?? The bitumen Road route provides the only high visibility available for spectators and supporters. It is desirable to increase visibility NOT eliminate it entirely. The existing Jenolan Rd checkpoint provides more than sufficient safe parking for officials supporters and spectators alike. Entrants running across the very difficult Black Range Road are buoyed by the thought and knowledge of ‘hitting the road’. The existing 4/5 km of bitumen to Kiaora Hill is easily viewed and controlled by mobile officials at a critical time for exhausted competitors. This medical aspect cannot be conducted if the event moves off road.

CHOICE (2): new “6 Foot Track DEVIATION” from Black Range Rd to Kiaora Hill. This deviation was completely new to me and I was surprised by how much money has obviously been spent on its’ establishment. This Route is probably the same distance in time. It is well marked with an equally well marked crossing of the Bitumen Road 2kms or so below your present Jenolan Road Checkpoint. However at this road crossing there is insufficient parking area to cope with officials / spectators / & supporters normally associated with the existing Jenolan Road checkpoint. This aspect alone has more unsafe aspects than traversing the normal route. The “Deviation” also embraces what will become to exhausted competitors several significant hills. I appreciate the difficulties you are facing and extend best wishes to you both. I also look forward to completing my 12th this year ...

Yours… Tony Krantzcke (ph 0418 255462)

Max Bogenhuber Kevin I was up there today (yes in the rain) and ran the new section (from the 'Six Foot Track Deviation' signboard). My verdict: Bloody ripper. This should have been the course all along. It is probably a bit shorter but a bit harder. But it is most definitely a lot easier on the mind and I think at that stage of the race this is a good thing. I timed the run from where the new section leaves the existing track (about a mile before you get to the road) to where we used to turn off the road near Binda Cabins. Then I ran back the old course along the road right back to where I started the new section. The time difference was 1 minute 20 secs quicker on the road. So there is certainly no need to adjust the cutoff time of seven hours. The nature of the course probably actually favours the slower runners as the new section is a bit shorter I think. Since the slower runners are probably walking most of the time by this stage anyway they will not lose any time on the sections which will slow down the faster runners such as a few flights of steps and a couple of steepish climbs. All in all I found the new section a very nice change from that rotten road that goes on forever. Although the clock told differently it felt like the new section went by a lot quicker than the road section. Must be because it is all bush which is more pleasant than the tar road. Just after you turn off the existing track there is a picnic area with toilets etc. which will make a great place for the aid station. Where the track crosses the road you will have to put a marshall because it will be dangerous for stupefied runners (as some of them will be) to be crossing there where the cars can't see you until they are almost right on you. There is also quite a big flat area to park cars where the trail crosses the road. After the trail crosses the road it comes back out very close to the road on three occassions. If someone wanted to cheat they could follow the road on some of these sections. I would make it clear to all competitors that anyone found on the road will be disqualified and leave it to the runners to police themselves. Max.
Kelvin Marshall Have to say getting rid of the road sounds like a great idea i always assumed there must have been a real bush track. The road is too hot and exposed (at the wrong point of the race) and after all this is a bush trail ultra not a road race won't miss Caves road at all !!!

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