He is now 71 years old, but Max Bogenhuber will back up yet again this Saturday to participate in the 30th anniversary running of the legendary Six Foot Track Marathon.
Bogenhuber was one of the original seven who ran in the first Six Foot Track Marathon in 1984, held to mark the centenary of the famous 45km track that snakes, plunges and soars from the Explorers’ Tree at Katoomba to Jenolan Caves.
He is the only one of the seven who has continued to run in every edition of the marathon and he will run again this year in his customary No. 1 bib after also firing the starting gun.
The race has been hailed the world’s toughest marathon and is a highlight of the Australian trail running calendar.
It attracts runners from around the world and has grown to become a sellout every year due to “its toughness, its stunning scenery, challenging conditions and great camaraderie’’, says the Six Foot Track Marathon website.
Race director Colin Jeftha said all seven Six Foot Track Marathon originals had been invited to be guests of honour at the starting line this year to mark the race’s 30th anniversary.
Featuring about 850 runners, this year’s race will start in five waves from 7am.
Bogenhuber won’t be the oldest runner. That honour will go to 74-year-old Pat Hughes, who last year still completed the race just over 12 minutes inside the cut-off time of 7 hours.
Because the race boasts an agonising 1528m of climbs and 1788m of descents, the average running time is five hours and 30 minutes, but Blue Mountains local Ben Artup set the race record in 2009 with a remarkable effort of three hours and 15 minutes.
The race raises thousands of dollars each year for the Rural Fire Service and the Six Foot Track Heritage Trust, which helps maintain the track.
RFS volunteers man 17 aid stations along the race route. Back in 1984, however, the runners didn’t even have drink bottles, let alone aid stations.
How did they do the race without dying from dehydration? They drank water from puddles at the side of the track.