The Six Foot Track Marathon follows the exact same path as the walking track from The Explorer's Tree, Katoomba to Jenolan Caves. It is 45.0km. This is basically the same route as been followed since the days of the first european explorers to the area.
The course varies from narrow, rocky track near the start in Nellies Glen, to meadows, sandy gravel track, and dirt fire-trail road - of course with a number of hills (big and small) and rivers (big and small). Sean Greenhill wrote a Detailed Course Description in 2003 which was then further enhanced with additional pacing suggestions/times by Chris Johnson in 2008.
The exact route of the race was accurately measured for possibly the first time (on 12th January 2003) as near as possible to the official race certification standards using mountain bike, GPSx2, Jones Counter, Altimeter, and map. The course measurer was Stephen Jackson, an official course measurer who has measured amongst other races, The 2000 Sydney Olympic Marathon and Triathlon.
Key measurements (in Km)
- 235m From Explorers Tree to the Start Line which is at 1050m altitude
- 0.0 Race start location (close to shelter)
- 1.7 to the bottom of Nellies Glen (down to 725m)
- 8.066 to the cattle grid at Megalong Valley Rd (570m)
- 14.36 to the Swing Bridge (not crossed as part of the race)
- 15.5 to the Jenolan-side of the Coxs River (270m)
- 18.6 to the drink station at the Fenced Yards
- 20.0 is right on top of Mini Mini Saddle (740m)
- 22.5 is halfway and at the creek crossing at the bottom of the Pluviometer hill (only 550m)
- 26.0 to the Pluviometer (990m)
- 34.7 to the corner at the start of the Deviation at Black Range Campground (1195m)
- 37.9 at the Caves Rd crossing (1215m)
- 45.00 Finish - by the manhole in the road outside Trails Bistro at Caves House (795m)
The course climbs a total of 1,528m and drops a total 1,788m giving a net drop of 260m (it's a downhill course !!)
Elapsed Times based on target finish in bold, calculated using Jo Blake Split Calculator
Elapsed Times for target finish hh:mm
The Course History
Over the years the route of the race has altered. The original course was measured by wheel, by Chris Stephenson and Helen Charters in one of the early years of the race. It measured 46.5k. In the second running of the event in 1985 the race was run in reverse, starting in Jenolan Caves and finishing at the explorers tree.
There were minor amendments to the course in the years following in the Megalong Valley as land changed ownership as well as some of the latter sections due to changes in access along the logging roads.
There was 2 changes in 1989. The race start was moved from the traditional explorers tree, to the gate at the top of Nellies Glen and the route through Megalong Valley was changed from to follow the fence line, which cut off some distance.
The most significant course change occurred for the 2001 event when the 5km section from the end of the Black Range to the turn off at ‘Binda Cabins', was removed to take advantage of the new section of firetrail (deviation) that had opened some years previously. In doing so, it made the run 100% off-road and a lot safer for runners. This reduced the course distance to 45k however added 34 short, sharp uphills. The course records were left unchanged because it was estimated that the degree of difficulty / total time was similar.