It must be the Bellbirds
Last year I finished with an unexpected PB. This year my 'Plan-A' was to run a similar sort of race, while 'Plan-B' was to make it safely to Caves House inside the 7-hour time limit, thus securing the mysterious and coveted belt buckle for six finishes. I was eight minutes behind PB schedule at the Pluviometer — 26 kilometres down and all the big climbs were over. Just 19 kilometres remained. Once the track along the Black Range became runable I broke into a Cliffy shuffle but as soon as I hit the next small rise I reverted to walking. I was gone. Time for 'Plan-B'. Lots of walking, slow running on the downhills and an eternity of time for thinking...
I wondered about what it is that draws me back to this event. It can't be the satisfaction of putting in a maximal all-the-way effort, for I don't have the endurance and hill running ability to do that. Maybe it's both the familiar and the different things you notice each year — like the soothing cool waters of the three streams after the Alum Creek aid station. Or the distant view of a line of people walking up to Pinnacle Hill. Or chatting to fellow runners before the start and on the dark, cool, damp steps of Nellie's Glen. This year there was enthusiastic ear-piercing screaming from a small cheer-squad on the Deviation which lifted me into a run until I was safely out of sight.
I just love the first 16 kilometres of Six Foot. It has such a variety of running and I like it all. It's an adventure! My favourite part is the final five kilometres down to the Cox's River — a narrow single-track of twists, turns, steps and rocks — running in a line of people all enjoying the same thing. There are many reasons why I keep coming back, but if pushed for a single one I'll just say "It must be the Bellbirds". For they have a song which is surely made in heaven — tinkling and shrill. I hear it from what must be hundreds of birds and I look high into the tree-tops for the source of such delightful sound. No wonder they inspired Henry Kendall to write his most loved poem.
Splits 2009: Nellie's (1.7k) 21:45, Megalong Valley Rd (8.1k) 53:36, Pinnacle Hill (10k) 1:04:37, Cox's River (15.5k) 1:42:22, Mini-Mini summit (20k) 2:30:33, Pluviometer (26k) 3:30:50, Caves Rd (37.9k) 5:18:20, Finish (45k) 6:23:23.
Splits 2008: Nellie's (1.7k) 19:25, Megalong Valley Rd (8.1k) 52:14, Pinnacle Hill (10k) 1:03:07, Cox's River (15.5k) 1:39:40, Mini-Mini summit (20k) 2:25:24, Pluviometer (26k) 3:22:28, Caves Rd (37.9k) 4:49:42, Finish (45k) 5:41:07.