By The North Face 100 Australia
Almost 2000 runners, many of them little more than recreational superheroes, will take on a thigh-busting challenge of extraordinary magnitude when they compete in The North Face 100 in the Blue Mountains this Saturday (May 17).
Half of them will dip their toe in the shallow end with a 50km outing on legs that will certainly ache but ultimately not break.
However, nearly 1000 will chase the unknowable hurt, humour, physical impact and elation of The North Face 100 finish line.
These Aussie battlers and all-star visitors from the international arena of extreme running will pound sandstone, gravel, creek bed and leafy forest floor for anything from nine to 26 hours.
They will either conquer their own doubts or collapse at the foot of daunting climbs that stretch from valley depths to obscured cliff tops more than 300 storeys above.
Now in its seventh year, an event that began with fewer than 200 crazies shivering among themselves on a misty Saturday morning in 2008 has grown beyond all reasonable expectation to become the largest three-day festival of ultra marathon and trail running in the Southern Hemisphere.
For many, this will be their first time running further than 42.2km. Close to 60 per cent of their race will be run into the unknown distance, stretching into a cold and uncertain night.
But as they drag themselves over the final 2km, up almost 1000 steep and uneven stairs behind Scenic World at Katoomba, they will achieve something nobody can ever take away from them. And as they break into the ring of light surrounding the finish line, up to 5000 friends, fans, volunteers and supporters will be cheering for them.
Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Daniel Myles said: “The North Face 100 is an ideal event which showcases the Greater Blue Mountains region as the nature-based activity destination it is.
“Competitors from around the world not only get to see our gloriously wild landscape up close, they get to experience its untamed ruggedness.’’
Taking in the valleys, ridgelines, and canyons of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, The North Face 100 is widely recognised as Australia’s most iconic and most popular extreme running event. It creates a lifetime of memories for some, and provides the first big step on to a path less trodden for others.