Monday, 18 May 2015

Black Rock 5

sea of brown

15/05/15  I was sure I had done this recently and yet couldn't find the blog. I had been looking under May as most races stay in the same month. However it dawned on me that scheduling this monster cannot be easy as they have to find a Friday evening when the tide is suitable. So last year it was mid June and yes I did run. At under 5 miles it is a short sharp sprint over a pretty tough course.

Interesting to note that at just over the mile mark (according to the profile along the top) I fly 100 feet into the air and travel for a quarter of a mile before dropping back down. Similarly on the return across the sand. I didn't notice this but you would think those around me might have said something.

new registration hall
Since a lot of folk get the train there are a couple of influxes of several hundred runners. The new venue worked well and coped admirably with this.

Ellie and Gav came by car but cunningly got the whippet to drive so they could enjoy the post match (birthday) beers. Happy Birthday Ellie!

I don't like running in a crowd scene so I cheekily ran up the first hill with the fast boys at the front. As you can see it's free from those in pink headphones running 4 abreast (can't remember who was complaining about the ch*r*ty runners and what event that was, but pink headphones were the signifier). About 1,000 runners directly behind and not all of them content to remain there!

photo Allan H - thanks
Hoka shoes are the best for beach races. Think snow shoes for sand. Also they float over the watery bits and sometimes rarely bother to touch the ground. (see above). I was pleased to find myself directly behind BC of CAAC as not only is he a quality runner but quite a good wind break and I shamelessly drafted him for 2/3rds of the beach.

I wasn't the only one getting in line to avoid the worst of the stiff breeze.
Photo Gordon D. Big thanks to Gordon for taking loads of quality photos on a cold dark evening and staying up late to post them same night. What a service!

I had borrowed Mary's waterproof camera. However I was pushing so hard for so much of this race I didn't take that many shots and most of them were not great quality. The light was very poor. This (above) shot was when Bryan, possibly bored of listening to an old geezer wheezing on his heels, pulled away. However we were most of the way to the Black Rock after which the wind would carry us back and life would be easy. This was what I was telling myself. 

Another deluxe quality shot. Disappointingly there was a lack of water at the rock. The piper was there but my lungs were rattling so hard I didn't hear what tune he was blowing at us.

Lack of water. 
In the past we have had knee deep sea at the rock and once or twice been diverted round the front as the water was too deep. This year was sadly dry - it does make for more fun if you have to dash and splash through deep water as by that point everyone is well warmed up and ready for an immersion. However I realise it is a tough ask to get the sea to remain at the right depth.

This dude in red is Chris P who regularly appears beside me in the Promathon photos etc. but has always moved ahead by the finish. Today, alas, same story. He used to work next to my niece Laura. Also behind in the white vest is Fergus. (And Stuart Hay.) A call went out from Iain earlier in the week asking if someone could take Intervals on Thurs as he, Iain, was off to the SIPR. I declined using BR5 as the reason (at this point I was intending on doing Goatfell next day as well.) Fergus stepped up saying he was more hardcore than myself. Dammit. Meant to go along as I felt I had been slighted! Luckily I got sidetracked esp as Wed eve with PRC was plenty hard enough: 4 x (400, 400, 200). Anyway here comes Fergus.

There goes Fergus, and what can I say, he must be more hardcore. Curses. I did seem to lose a few places on the return stretch. I was feeling pretty pooped. I wondered how far Mr Hay was behind. We have been very equally matched at the last few races and taking turns at first 50. I waited till we came off the beach before having a sneaky peek over my shoulder. I saw him a bit back - ok, but by no means safe. 

photo perfectly capturing my state: a bit knackered and useless

I must remember when there are photographers about to keep my tongue in my mouth. That is not a good look. I do think it is further evidence of a past life as a dog. I also have dreams of running on all fours. Thanks to Mr Woods for this nevertheless.

photo Gordon D
And Stuart not far behind (green top). This is the last descent and is where you have to rally the troops for the final hideous hundred yards up a steep hill and then as you turn the corner a nearly vertical hill. Given the wee dude in black behind overtook between here ^ and there, it can be telling. Fear of Hay kept me focussed and I finished before him - couldn't tell you by how much as I was bent double with red blotches in front of my eyes. The race had been "chipped" and there were chairs beyond the finish line onto which most runners raised their chipped foot to allow marshals to remove the electronic tag. I misinterpreted the chairs and sat down (ooh a lovely chair thanks very much) to let the marshal scrabble around on the floor to remove mine!

However at least I was happy enough with my effort. Michael was nothing short of disgusted with his run and here he is undercover in the green shirt, ducking publicity, while I sympathetically take photos. Thanks Paul R for the photo.

It is good to see Nicola (first lady) back to racing though she is not out of the woods yet and still running through the pain. But less so tonight than at her recent half marathon - maybe the softer ground is the way forward?

Did Mitch say a 2 min pb? There was quite a bit of chat and beers and my brain was still a bit fluffy from the effort.

Psycho Skwerl Crooky

sea of brown pt 2

Jenni - faster than the camera

Ruth was flying up the last hill

Dr. Neil

embrace the pain

Legend Scott B with Gav.
Now without wishing to cast aspersions about Mary's waterproof camera (otherwise I'll never get to borrow it again) which is great in good light conditions and just the thing for a race with a bit of kicked up water involved; it does slightly distort those caught at the edges of the photo. Ivor here being a good for instance. (Also Fergus in the first photo.) You would never normally regard Ivor as a dead ringer for a camp Clark Kent / Christopher Reeve. And yet...
 I was so impressed with Ivor's recent 9hr Fling which included bashing his knee in a fall.

Sometimes the camera did show a moment of truth though. Above is MG who was caught between enjoying taking part and not enjoying running at less than full potential or anywhere near. Michael has been plagued by injury for months, perhaps years now. When he races he finds himself hamstrung by lack of training. Anyone dogged by injury knows the story. And it stops races being any kind of a rewarding experience, except for the social afterwards. 

Meanwhile on a lighter note, the above is one of those photos you find on the internet showing actual REAL proof of the SUPERNATURAL. Alex is clearly pointing out a ZOMBIE.

(apologies if this is you)
The free beer at the end, the beer tent and the burger BBQ all make for a great event and help you forget just how hard it is running flat out over sand for a few miles. Pity there didn't seem to be much in the way of showers - the ones at the school were locked (used as storage?) and more than one person climbed out of bed next morning with sand on their legs. I was a bit upset when they announced first v50 to be Stuart Hay. (Since I had had to work quite hard to avoid that result), and he wasn't there to set them straight. But I wrestled the beers and envelope off Dr. Neil who had taken charge of the booty. After a bit of emailing back and forth John the organiser let me know there were 3 wrongly presented prizes and that they won't be using Winning Time chip timing next year as a result. Other than that highly recommended and a great Friday night!


  1. hey peter, well done, i had those funny bumps too, wonder what they were.

  2. Hi Fiona, yes someone else did too, must be a Garmin glitch but no idea what is causing it.

  3. perhaps more radioactivity on a fife beach?