Courtney Atkinson Places Second at the Six Foot Track

Courtney Atkinson Places Second at the Six Foot Track

It’s 45kms of pure, hard, unadulterated endurance racing.

 

The Sixfoot Track Marathon is no joke. Held since 1984 in the Blue Mountains, the 45km race has been described as “the toughest marathon in Australia”. And I can attest to that.

Here’s a yarn published on RedBull Adventure about my experience at six foot track marathon with images from @AwolFamily

With the 2017 event having just passed, RedBull.com caught up with Courtney – who came in second place and got the fourth best time in the history of the event – to find out what makes this soul-sucking slog (for which there’s little fanfare or prize money) just so appealing to athletes.

Six Foot Track Marathon Finish 2

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“It’s a bit like a rock concert – you’ve gotta go into a lottery to get in it. The only exceptions are for the top placed athletes from previous years. Other than that, they don’t care who you are. I didn’t get in the first round – I got knocked back, then had to wait another week to see if I could get in. Luckily I got in in the second round. I had five ex-running mates who came down to the Blue Mountains – two of them didn’t even get in to the second allotment. I think the fact that it’s hard to get in to makes it that much more enticing – you always want what you can’t have!”

Six Foot Track Cox's River Crossing

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The first two hours are hell

“It’s arguably the hardest terrain trail race in Australia. Right out the gate, the first hour is all downhill which totally obliterates your quads. Then there’s a waist-high river crossing. Then there’s a steep 10km climb from there. And that’s only the first two hours! You almost use up all your mental energy on that first chunk, but you have another 20km to go. By the time I got to the top of the hill, I didn’t think I’d make the rest of the course. My legs were gone! Absolutely gone. But there was kind of no option – there was nowhere to stop and get a lift to the finish You had to keep going – the nature of a point to point course. It actually helped spur me on – you had to get to the end one way or another. May as well keep running!”
Six Foot Track Marathon Finish Line at Caves HouseRelated: 5 key tips for learning a new sport in your 30s 

Digging deep…

“You learn in endurance racing you go through the highs and lows – it’s painful! But when you’re going through those negative thoughts, you just keep moving forward. You know that things will turn around. I just try to count 10 steps at a time, do them as best as I can counted my steps smaller – I did anything to keep my mind off the fact that I had 20km to go. I finished in 3hrs 17mins, and this local lady wrote me on Facebook told me that her endurance horses covered the same distance in about three hours – so that gives you some idea of how fast we were going.”

Six Foot Track Marathon Courtney Atkinson

Preparation and expectation: a fine balance

“I went into this race not even confident if I’d be able to finish, let alone come in second. I think getting into something for the right reasons – because you actually want to do it – can make a big difference to your overall performance. The fact that I did the Kathmandu Coast to Coast a few weeks ago meant that I was in pretty good shape anyway, but before we took off, I thought there was a good chance that I could’ve got 2.5 hours into the race and been walking. I reckon I ate about 30 of those gummy snakes along the way too – they definitely helped!”

Respect earned, respect due

“A few of my running mates said to me that getting second on my first time was one of the best things I’ve actually done, one of the best performances I’ve put together in my whole career. It totally took me by surprise. I kind of had to pinch myself at the end there! All of this is building up to some exciting upcoming projects with Red Bull. Watch this space.”

Originally published on Courtney’s Blog, you can check out the original article here.