Blue Mts trek will be tough for Rachel
By ADRIAN MILLER
BYRON BAY's Rachel McKenzie won't have to carry thermals and a survival blanket for today's ultra-marathon in the Blue Mountains like she did in a recent race in New Zealand, but that doesn't mean the 45km trek won't be tough.
In fact, many people think the Six Foot Track Marathon, which McKenzie is attempting for the first time, is one of the toughest runs in the world.
The race attracts 700 competitors and has been held annually since 1984 along the Six Foot Track, which runs from Katoomba to the Jenolan Caves.
Completely off road, the track follows a route the first European explorers trod nearly 200 years ago.
It varies from a narrow, rocky track to meadows, gravel and a dirt fire-trail road.
Throw in numerous hills and rivers, and it's clear why the average finishing time is five-and-a-half hours and competitors have to qualify for the race.
McKenzie, a personal trainer who qualified by running the Gold Coast Marathon last year in just over three-and-a-half hours, said she expected a gruelling encounter.
"I'm expecting to not be able to walk properly for a few days afterwards," she laughed.
"I've read reports from other people who've done it and they say it's very tough but an amazing feeling of accomplishment when you finish."
McKenzie said she hoped to complete the race under the average time, but in reality she would be happy just to finish.
"I don't have a clue how I'll go, to be honest, not having done the race before," she said.