Wayne McMurtrie successfully finished his third 6 Inch Trail Marathon earlier this month. Image – Dennis Tan/Paparazzi on the Run.
The ever popular 6 Inch Trail Marathon was held on Sunday, December 18 in North Dandalup, WA and Runglobal guest race reporter Wayne McMurtrie was there to get a feel for all the excitement.
By Wayne McMurtrie
The 6 Inch Trail Marathon has been held every year for the last 11 years on Munda Biddi Trail, North Dandalup in Perth (WA); it was the 12th year that local trail running legend, advocate and all round good guy Dave Kennedy hosted the event on Sunday, December 18.
This year drew record numbers to race in two events – the ‘full’ marathon (47.5kms) and the ‘Half’ marathon at (24kms).
In previous years that I ran (2013 and 2014) Dave drove an orange school bus ferrying runners from Dwellingup to the start and that was an event in itself, but this year there were flash whites coaches delivering people in comfort and style to the start line.
6 Inch has two official aid stations with a third ‘unofficial’ official aid station about 5kms from the end.
I made my way across to Dwellingup late Saturday afternoon and I was beginning to feel excited for what was to be my third start.
Rocking up to the Dwellingup Caravan Park for registration and bib collection (the day before) I made my way through the crowd giving a nod and shaking hands with old friends and meeting new; it was a great way to catch up with people I hadn’t seen for a long time.
Guest elite runner Scotty Hawker was on hand for a Q&A session where he answered questions from the crowd, giving tips and hints and talking about his runs at home and abroad.
Pre-race selfie at registration the day before start. Image – Wayne McMurtrie.
During rego I caught up with trail running extraordinaire Felix Meister and his partner Suzy, and we decided that I would get a lift with them to the start in the morning. Felix was this year volunteering with parking and at one of the aid posts – he is the current record holder for the longest 6 Inch at 62kms (the course is officially measured at around 47.5kms).
I spent the night at Jarrah Lodge with the Meisters and after a dinner of hot chips it was to bed for an early wake up. At 0230 I was awake and headed towards the kitchen where I was met with a smiling Felix with a freshly brewed hand ground coffee – ‘thank you sir!’ before being bundled into the car and heading down the road to North Dandalup Hall for final check-in.
The Munda Biddi Trail is a mix of gravel access trails and roads, single track, a few bitumen road crossings and elevation isn’t overly difficult after Goldmine Hill but there is a deceptive amount upward plodding along the way.
The course is generally hard packed gravel with some soft pea gravel sections and a little sand mixed in for good measure.
Without being overly technical, there are a few rocky sections particularly through the out and back where you tackle ‘The Escalator’ (it’s at 37kms and is a very short, gnarly hill, which is pretty much un-runnable in both directions).
Although not particularly technical, it’s slightly uphill for the most the way home to finish.
The throng of excited runners was tense in anticipation, and then at the allocated time we surged forward!
Onwards and upwards jogging, then slowing to a walk up Goldmine Hill, the runners sorting themselves out, people moving up the ranks and others falling back, happily chatting.
The trail was in great condition this year with recent rains helping to compact some of the softer sand and pea gravel sections. After cresting the top of Goldmine Hill we continued along Whittakers Road, crossed Scarp Road and ventured onto the Munda Biddi Trail and into the Old Whittakers Camp before turning onto the bitumen briefly and cutting back onto single track for a gently undulating run along trails.
Crossing Del Park Road at about the 18kms mark is a relatively gentle run as you make your way to aid station one, which was this year themed as an insane asylum.
At 34kms heading onto the out and back section and dodging the water spray from marshals, runner took the trail that was the most technical, followed by The Escalator and aid station two.
From there it was a clear run to the finish – just over 10kms to go.
While not a difficult 10kms there was a distinct upward inclination; there were a couple of sections in the open next to powerlines as the day started to get warm, it became a real energy sapper.
It was in the last 7kms or so that I came across runner Mick Hearn and after a bit encouragement for some kilometres we separated as we passed through the 5kms to go mark and the last aid post.
The final stretch was a mixture of single track and fire roads towards Dwellingup; with 1.5kms to go I came across Logan Vickers who took a nasty stumble early in his race, but soldiered on through the remaining 20kms to take out a finish.
We walked together for a while until I decided to push on until I saw marshals pointing towards the finish – the last sprint and the 12th anniversary 6 Inch was done!
I finished in a time of 5:11:51, which was a PB on my 2014 effort by 10 minutes.
Wayne with runner Richard Avery, who finished in a time of 3:44:22.
In my opinion 6 Inch really is more about the community of running rather than the race itself.
It seems all ultra-marathons and trail races run along similar lines.
There is a sense of purpose that you will not find in traditional road marathons as ultras and trail runs foster an amazing sense of community with all the participants trying to achieve the same goal – usually just to finish!
A huge thank you to David Kennedy, the volunteers, sponsors, supporters and the community of runners that make this such an amazing event.
Full results can be found here.