In amongst the big ticket marathons and the associated ‘tarantara’ of commercially organised running events there are still lots of community based races with a history and character to remind you of the simple joy and fun of running.
The Black Rock 5 is one of those. Each year on a May or June evening, and always on a Friday but at a time depending on the tides, the Black Rock 5 takes place. It is an out and back from the centre of Kinghorn to the Black Rock.
Despite its’ name The Black Rock 5 race is neither 5 miles nor 5 k in length. I am guessing at some point it may have been 5 miles and the route has changed or maybe just calling it the Black Rock 4 and a bit miles had less appeal – who knows and as it happens it does not really matter.
Whatever the history of the route length ( and it has been going for more than 25 years ), the Black Rock 5 is one of those races that manages to achieve the balance between creating the buzz of a special occasion while managing to remain anchored to the local community and true to its roots.
Of course it helps that the race takes place in late spring in a beautiful seaside location where when nights are long and if weather is kind – Scotland is just the best place ever ( is it not always ; ) ?
How lovely and lucky we are to run in the evening in the East coast light of a long Scottish day.
It really is quite magical.
Weather earlier that day had been good and the temperature at 7 PM was still warm enough to wear a running vest as runners started to gather. As it was the third time I had taken part in the race,I knew what was ahead of me and was happy to enjoy the pre-race atmosphere.
The first time I did this race I remember being quite anxious, having heard from fellow runners how tough it was and so wondering if I could keep going until the end after the rigours of running on the beach. This year with two previous attempts as ballast – and not setting any time targets – I was just looking forward to taking part.
So the route is as follows : You start underneath the railway arches then run mostly downhill through the town for a mile towards the beach, then a mile out on the sand – at low tide towards the Black Rock where you circle the rocks serenaded by Scottish piper, then back towards the town. Simple you may say – save for running 2 miles on wet sand and the killer hill sprint finish .
This year I was feeling fit and in fine fettle – and not under any pressure to better my time -I even stopped briefly on my way out to record the scene of the ribbon of runners heading out towards Black Rock. I was tempted to stop again a mile later at the rock to capture the image of the piper on the rock – but my running competitiveness and running rhythm won over my desire to capture the image – so one for my memory.
I did notice a couple of fellow runners recording the event – one with Go Pro strapped on his body and the other more cumbersomely holding a selfie stick aloft the whole way.
It’s a very photogenic race – but I could take a million pictures, videos or whatever – and none could convey the feeling you have as a runner. As you hit the sand from the road – the splishing and the sploshing – negotiating the unpredictable surface of ridged sand after the stability of the tarmac, that weird feeling as your feet get wet dashing though pools of sea water and best of all the salty sea tang you catch as you breathe.
This year – whether because my senses where heightened for some reason, or ozone was at an all time high – I felt acutely assaulted by the smell of the sea, of sea creatures and of an essence that it is hard to describe.
The salty air, the sploshing wet sand,the east coast light and the lung busting hill finish, makes this a race to remember.
And not forgetting – magnificent beer at the finish .
Black Rock 5 – Rock ON !