Sunday, 15 June 2014

Black Rock Five

Lucky 13
Friday the 13th June

Black Rock Five is a cracking race. Unfortunately it's another victim of the sells-out-nearly-instantly-online business and this can cause frustration and disappointment. I'm hoping as the racing world settles into online entries we all calm down and stop panic buying, and races stop selling in out minutes.

The Carousel in the background.

marshals at the titular Black Rock

I think there were 1,000 places and a good number of them got off the afternoon train in Kinghorn. Porty could almost have filled their own carriage. It was a club champs race and there were around 49 registered to run.

We arrived plenty early and I ran along to the harbour to check the water levels and sand condition. It seemed like there was a lot of tide still to go out 40 minutes before the 8pm kick off and I changed my mind about carrying the camera thinking so much water would be kicked up that it wouldn't survive.

Porties warming up

With such a crowd at the start I hung back about joining it knowing you can get blocked in, in the huddle. I stood uncomfortably near the the speaker stand. They were blasting out tunes popular in the school disco in the late 70s and early 80s. I am a music lover but this flaccid selection of long dead turds from the youth of the dj served nobody but himself. I couldn't have enjoyed it less if Gary Glitter and Jimmy Savile were doing the warm up.

I think I probably channeled the hate and turned it into speed, but that might have been the caffeine jockey who likes the view from up front. After belting up the hill I caught my breath along the level and began to enjoy the race by the time we descended to the beach, flying across the soft sand before hitting the more solid wet sand which we'd be on for the majority of the race.

I'm second in from right
Toby, spectating, took this photo and the next few. 

I ran in a small group with Phil M (haven't seen him racing for a while) and a dude with an impressive mop of curly hair. This chap was to shadow my weekend, although I haven't noticed him on the circuit till now. Both were making steady progress although I mostly refrained from trying to duck behind them and get the benefit of some wind shade as it was early on and the headwind wasn't too strong.

great photo, thanks Toby

As we approached the piper at the gates of rock I realised I hadn't seen anything of team Porty and wondered where they were. I see from photos they were in the vicinity but it was only after the rock that Gareth broke cover and came alongside. (The depth of water round the rock was almost disappointingly shallow.) And I didn't notice the tune the piper was playing: probably too much old man's lung rattle in my ears. I was pleased Gareth didn't leave me standing, and that no other PRCers had appeared. We stayed within spitting distance back across the wet sand and it was only towards the dry sand that Gareth forged ahead.

from R to L: Phil M, curlytop (Dave W), me and Gareth (and another)
photo Toby

photo Toby

photo Toby

photo Maggie S 

A vision in brown, some HBT cheerleaders cheered me on and I appear to have sped up for the photo Maggie posted subsequently (above). I doubt I kept that up round the corner but didn't drop too many places along the level before enjoying rolling down the start hill. I hoped to drop the dude on my tail here as I knew I would slow dramatically on the huff and puff up the final ramp to the finish. He stuck to me and overtook on the near vertical hundred yards and only after I retrieved my lungs from the gutter was I able to ask his age. (45! hallelujah - might be on for first m50) Turns out I was 20th overall in 25.41 which is most likely a pb.

After the run there was some heavy rain then things brightened up and there were patches of sunlight across the Forth, with Largo Law possibly, poking out the mist.

I think one of the reasons this race is so popular is the free bottle of beer they give you at the end. People drink and chat and quickly forget the pain and horrors of the long drag across the beach, sploshing through small ponds and soft sandy swamps. They remember the beer and chat. Race directors take note: free beers make for popular outings. (Oh and decent showers! The showers trickled a tiny amount of scalding water too hot to do much more than move some of the sand around your legs. There were better showers next door (marked ladies) but I think they might have gone the same way.)

The event seems to haunt a different pub every year. This year was the Carousel which was even worse than it sounds. Maybe it was THAT dj again relocated from the race start and still featuring any track from the early 80s that had the word "run" in the chorus. The event specific burgers were pretty good as was £2 per pint of the 4 options of beer there, although I'm not a big fan of strong bitter tasting beer. I forced myself to have a couple of pints which calmed my nerves as the prize-giving competed with the 10.08 train to see who could come latest. The train won (hurray) and I was presented (for first v50) a case of 12 beers and an envelope in time to run the 200 yards along to the station. 12 beers plus one for taking part = lucky 13!

The prize-giving was very generous. Lots of brown beer and some fruit based drinks for the ladies - which were rejected in favour of beer by the women of the HBT winning team! Nicola (in a strong field) was first lady, and Michael managed to snag an envelope for 5th vet 40.

The train on the return journey was full of high spirits despite alcohol not being allowed at that time. I was concerned I would have to run the gauntlet of Leith at 11pm on a Friday night with a case of beer - a red rag to the locals - but luckily most of the sorts that might try to share in my victory were still fuelling their fight indoors, and I got home unmolested.

Highly recommended if you are one of the lucky ones to get an entry.

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