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Blue Mountains Tourist : Autumn 2010
Tests of toughness Every Autumn the thoughts and feet of hundreds of runners and trekkers turn to the Blue Mountains as they prepare to take part in one of three gruelling endurance events. The Six Foot Track marathon (Saturday March 13) is a 45km off-road event that starts near the Explorers Tree, in Katoomba and finishes at Jenolan Caves. It's been described as the toughest marathon in Australia. The terrain is mostly hilly and the going varies from narrow, rocky tracks to meadows, sandy gravel and dirt fire-trails. The first race was held in 1984 with just seven participants and entries are now capped at 850 runners. It attracts both local and overseas entrants. Runners must finish within seven hours. The race record (3hrs-23mins-13secs) was set in 2008 by Wollongong runner Barry Keem. Funds raised by the event go to the Rural Fire Service and the Six Foot Track Heritage Trust. www.sixfoot.com The Wild Endurance (Saturday 1st to Monday 3rd May) is a 100km team trail-walking event held predominantly on tracks and fire trails in the Blue Mountains National Park to raise funds for The Wilderness Society. The event starts from Dunphy's Camp in the Megalong Valley and ends in Katoomba. Teams can complete the full 100km course as one group or as a relay of two groups, each covering the two 50km sections. There is a strict time limit of 48 hours. www.wildendurance.org.au The North Face 100 trail run (Saturday and Sunday 15- 16 May) is aimed at experienced solo runners or relay teams of two. It's based on the Tour de Mont Blanc -- a world famous trail run in Europe. The race is aimed at elite runners from all over the world and participants must finish within 30 hours. The event is run primarily on fire trails and tracks through the Blue Mountains National Park. The record time of 10 hours, 22 minutes and 51 seconds is held by Blue Mountains local Andrew Lee and there's talk of a sub-10hr record this year. www.thenorthface.com.au/100 Living on the metal edge by Amanda Diaz www.bluemountainstouristnewspaper.com.au autumn 2010 24 Known as the festival with the metal edge, Ironfest is the closest most of us will ever get to the Middle Ages without using a time machine. Now in its 11th year, the arts festival has developed a reputation as a unique and unforgettable weekend out. The brainchild of sculptor Macgregor Ross, the three-day festival -- held at Lithgow Showground over the Anzac Day weekend -- aims to educate and inspire. "There are a number of medieval fairs and other historical events," Macgregor says, "but they are nothing like Ironfest." First held in April 2000 to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the birth of steel in Australia, Ironfest has since developed a life of its own. It's now the largest annual cultural event in the Blue Mountains region. Last year more than 10,000 people attended -- over 80 per cent of them from outside the Lithgow area. Each year, artists, musicians, designers, blacksmiths and performers from around the globe assemble to present an eclectic but entertaining mix of old and new. Whatever your interests, there's bound to be something in the festival's program. Some activities, such as jousting, have been popular for centuries. If music is the food of love, there's plenty of opportunity for romance at Ironfest this year, with the showground populated by wandering minstrels. Two stages will feature a constant stream of original contemporary music from the region's best musicians and a number of busking competitions will be held throughout the festival. To take a step into the past without leaving 2010, visit the medieval village, check out St George's Day Jousting and take part in blacksmithing workshops and demonstrations. The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly 'The Battle of Lithgow,' a Napoleonic re-enactment of a mythical battle featuring infantry, cannon and cavalry. For those who prefer to keep their feet firmly rooted in the present, there are bike and automotive displays, a photographic exhibition and an expo on Climate Change. This year also marks the introduction of several events including a belly dancing festival and an art show to be held in the ballroom. If you're after something completely different, Lithgow's new skate park will be home to non-stop bike and skate action. With so much to see and do, there's a reason the festival runs over the long weekend. "Quite a lot of people have told us that they wished they'd had more than one day to visit Ironfest," says Macgregor Ross. "So best come for the weekend." The 11th annual Lithgow District Ironfest 2010, entitled 'Promise' -- Lithgow Showground, April 24th- 26th. Open 10.00am-5.00pm Saturday and Sunday; 10.00am-4.00pm Monday. Tickets can be bought online at www.ironfest.com.au or at the gate.
Summer 2009 - 10