It’s difficult to come up with an original report for the Black Rock 5. As I trawled through the results from previous years, it shows I’ve run this 5 mile beach race on-and-off since 2006. That’s a whopping 12 years with probably around 7 or 8 appearances. My times have all been (un)comfortably below the 30 minute mark with the fastest a slow 26 minuter. I must have been keen then. This year, as I lined up a little way behind the Stuweb chip timing pads, I eyed the tarmac rising up steadily ahead. For some it would be their first hill: For me, it was my runway to Nirvana. ‘Was 28 minutes possible?’ I mused. Maybe 29 would do. I was in ‘the zone’. Staring fixedly at the long stretch of road to the top where the crowd was gathering I jabbed a finger imperiously at my quarry; Was I going to give it 'one hundred and ten percent?' Hell Yeah.....Bueller.....Bueller......Bueller ?With 5 minutes to go I glimpsed the young Donald boys from the Hawks stretching their legs at the front. ‘Not much spare on them lads’ I thought. Was that the Perth runner Fotheringham next to me? The guy who made the pace with Aitken and left me behind at the 2016 Tay Ten? 'Is he running well? Maybe, Maybe not.'. Two minutes to go and as the crowd condensed, people pushed in. The viscosity of this mass of athletic humanity (1000 of them), were busting a gut for release, like a bottle of coke that’s been violently shaken, then dropped on its cap. One minute to go and there was a lot of bouncing around and pogo-ing on the spot; Thirty seconds and I was checking my garmin for the tenth time, another visual scan on the double tied laces and …lift off….Houston, we are good to go and off we went. The cork was out and bouncing off the ceiling.
Finding my pace early, it was warm with a gentle easterly breeze. The throng began to thin and sort itself out. I had entered last year but been injured and, as I careered down the high street toward the beach, the crowd shouting and joking with the spectacle presented in front of their eyes, I thought ‘take it easy big boy, at least you’re not injured’. Some way back, Missus Mac was fighting it out at somewhere at the back of the field.
In no time at all we were hitting the beach. The long lensed cameras pointed from left and from right like mini-daleks and you couldn’t expectorate without the risk of hitting someone with a camera phone pointed at you. Do people not remember things anymore? Is memory going the same way as Woolworths and gobstoppers? Do folk ever manage to look at all their captured images? So many questions..... anyone.....anyone.....anyone?
'Ahh, there they are…the 3 bridges and the rock of doom ahead'.
We were suddenly into water and then onto flat sand, then more water. Wet shoes, then a mile of ‘Riddle of the Sands’, tramping over baby dunes, a filmscape for a Borrowers production of Lawrence of Arabia. The camels would have been tiny.
The sweat began to drip from my reversed cap. I wondered whether I could catch the little group ahead before the turn; I wondered whether the little group behind me was going to swallow me up. The rock and the piper came in good time. I grabbed the bum bag I had strapped to my waist with my phone and wallet in it and hoisted it up as the knee high water lapped at my gusset, the splashes swashing the bottom of my vest. 'Could have done without the baggage'! Out of the water, I worked hard to catch and then tuck in behind a tall runner from some leisure club, all black and red decals. However, as we made our way back unconvincingly toward Kinghorn, I imagine that he decided I was drafting and began to weave. Maybe he was tired. ‘What’s he on?’ I thought, indignant that someone had the audacity to try and force me to the front like some cheap velodrome rider. As I reluctantly came to the front, I initially feigned exhaustion, blowing hard out of all orifices in an exaggerated fashion and pulling a twisted deviant gurn. However, my theatricals were only a cue for a girl from Central to cruise past and I attempted to latch onto her, my would-be exhaustion suddenly forgotten. She pulled out ahead of me in confident fashion and by the time I came off the beach, she was off and away.
We were in slow motion as we pitter-pattered up the penultimate climb. What on another day was a slack wee drag up from the seafront, today was K2’s big brother, and all the Sherpas were laughing at me. Swearing quietly to myself for being so old and slow, I crested the top of the drag and, at last, began to pick up speed. With the last quarter of a mile ahead , I eased into second gear. I glanced at my garmin and it was turning 27 minutes. I needed to control my breathing and find 3rd gear. I managed this just in time as a couple of youths came past and the final turn under the railway viaduct came and I had to slam my legs back into first gear to get up the pyramidal grizzly peak that is the final hill and the finish line. I was aware of my heart slipping out my arse as I tried to go more than 2 miles an hour to the finish line and there it was. Another sub 30 (28:48) and 5th V50. Why do I do it? High on sandy endorphins, I collected my water, banana and bottle of beer.Missus Mac appeared after a wee while and was well up the field and certainly not last. It was fish and chips and a couple of beers at the Auld House Pub before bedtime. Not so much craic with the locals this year, but there you go and it was back to the campsite for a night in the tent. It was breakfast in Burntisland and a few pages of Tim Moores highly entertaining ’Gironimo’ before we commenced the trip south. All good stuff.