A field of 780 athletes aged from 19 to 73 completed the gruelling Six Foot Track marathon on Saturday, the first held in two years following the 45km event’s cancellation last year due to flooding.
Petersham’s Tony Fattorini crossed the finish line at Jenolan Caves first with a sizzling time of 03:26:21, almost four minutes faster than his race goal.
Fattorini, 38, a previous winner of the event, beat runner-up Sam Walker from Sydney’s northern suburbs by four minutes and nine seconds and third placegetter Mark Green from Curl Curl who finished in 3:31:04.
Another previous winner, 29-year-old Blue Mountains runner Mick Donges, finished closely behind in fourth place, 46 seconds behind Green.
Donges won the men’s 20-29 age category.
Fattorini, a member of the HuRT Squad, said he added more hill training elements to his race preparation of about 120 kilometres per week — in addition to running to and from his workplace each weekday.
His focus on endurance over speed paid off in bucketloads in the wet and muddy conditions on Saturday.
“In just under 65 minutes we reached Cox’s River where the water was higher than I’ve seen on race day before, above my waist anyway,” he said.
“I noticed that every time the incline increased I narrowed the gap slightly, so that became my strategy.
“On the final climb, just before the road crossing, there was a small crowd of spectators and it was great to get a cheer from the legendary Frank Dearn.
“Then the cowbell started ringing and I knew I’d done it.”
Miranda resident Sarah Burgess was the first woman finisher (21st place overall) posting a time of 3:59:21, ahead of Angela Bateup from Yass (33rd place) and Cremorne’s Michelle McAdam (41st place).
Ingrid Donald from Mount Victoria was 10th fastest female, reaching Jenolan Caves in 4:43:56.
Race co-ordinator Colin Jefter said despite a two-year absence, the event’s maximum number of permitted entrants (900) was almost reached.
“It is always such a popular event and 875 people registered, but some pulled out in the last fortnight due to injury or urgent commitments, which is normal.
“As usual proceeds from entry fees will go to the Rural Fire Service and Six Foot Track Heritage Trust, but many runners also chose to fundraise for other good causes using the Everyday Hero website.”