Shar Baird, who took first place in the half distance, making her way to the end of the conveyer belt section of the 6 Inch Trail Marathon. Image – Jon Storey.
PERTH, WESTERN AUSTRALIA:
It was an emotional rollercoaster yesterday (December 20, 2015) at the 6 Inch Trail Marathon, as 267 participants took on the well known Munda Biddi course for 46kms, from North Dandalup to Dwellingup in the south west of the state.
With sold out entries for months, the race also provided a 23kms option, conquered by 95 trailblazers.
The race for the longer distance started before the sun was up, and the hills of Perth provided near freezing and windy conditions as participants waited for the official start.
Competitors began to pour in for a 3.30am check in, and had one hour to warm up.
The half competitors started later in the morning.
The first 3kms saw many runners speed walking up the hill and then taking off at a canter along the trails.
With undulating trails and mountain bike tracks, the real test of strength and endurance came 12kms near the finish, when participants were faced with ‘The Escalator’.
One participant described it as a washed out fire trail with deep rivulets, requiring balance and coordination, especially on the way down.
The weather remained kind to all the ‘Inchers’, with the breeze being a much welcomed advantage and temperatures staying in the low 20s.
Crossing the finish line in first place, completing the full 46kms in 3:24:29 was 27-year-old Josh Garrett.
On his tail, right behind him, sped through Tom Bakowski in 3:25:28 for second place and Matty Abel took third with a time of 3:28:22.
The women battled it out for the ladies 6 Inch title but it was Kathryn Watt who took the finish in 4:09:01. Jo Bennett secured an amazing second with a time of 4:19:47, while hot on her heels sped through Kate Bevilaqua for third in 4:25:12.
The half marathon, affectionately known as the 3 Inch, was conquered by Vlad Ixel in 1:32:59.
Local Canning River parkrunner and winner of the 2015 Armadale Half Marathon, Chris Lark, proudly took second in a time of 1:45:38, and was closely followed by Gary Grant, who crossed officially at 1:52:42.
In the women’s division, Shar Baird found herself in first place for the 3 Inch in a time of 1:58:27, with only a few minutes to spare as Annika Gillgren took home second in 2:01:28.
The 37-year-old from Kingsley said taking first place was a big surprise because 6 Inch was her very first trail event.
She said she reached her personal time goals and enjoyed the event as a whole, with lots of supporters, volunteers and photographers on hand to cheer everyone on.
“I felt undertrained going into the event as I’m a complete novice and had only started running ‘off road’ recently,” she said.
“After the first few kilometres, I was amused to realise I was in the front of the female cohort; I was pretty sure that I must had been tackling the race incorrectly and, being inexperienced, had probably gone out too fast.
“I spent the rest of the event waiting for the other girls to catch and overtake me.”
Baird recalled the track, saying despite doing an extra kilometre after taking a wrong turn, she was not disappointed.
“The track was beautiful, but did have its challenges,” she said.
“I was actually pleasantly surprised by the speed of the course; I think I had scared myself so much prior to the event, that the course itself was less confronting than my own version.
“I will definitely be back.”
Race Director David Kennedy was extremely happy with this year’s 6 Inch Trail Marathon, and said feedback from all participants and supporters was great.
“The men’s field was solid, but perhaps not as deep as recent years,” he said.
“The women’s field was the deepest ever, with recent ultramarathon winners finishing outside the top four.”