Until last Friday, the answer would have been different…but supreme blues brother BB King is no longer with us. So we must return to earth, and sand, and that annual slog over the tidal strand and round the Black Rock at Scotland’s finest train station in 2015 (according to the Beeb’s news report). Yes, Kinghorn is one of those off-the-tourist-map Fife towns which comes alive for this annual event, a personal favourite of mine. This was my first race of 2015, having been felled (anyone else?) by the mother-of-all chest bugs on/ off since last December.
I thought I had a cunning plan to allow me to float over the sands and round the Black Rock barefoot: to leave my race shoes at the road-end where the race joins the beach stretch. Just a wee problem: the race has gone hi-tech, with timing chips to be fixed to footwear. O well, better attach chip and leave shoes somewhere safe.
Harbour Road, the dead-end street (parallel to the rail viaduct under the station) which hosts the race start, was packed at 7.30pm with 800 or so competitors. I came across Hugh Buchanan (Central AC) who last week helped marshal the Ben Lomond junior races; also “YP” and a posse of Boggies were lurking with intent. One advantage of chip-timed races is that there’s less of a crush at the gun, so one can take off at a more even pace. I tried to shadow YP, but he loped away purposefully. Most of the first kilometre or so is a gentle descent of the prom road to the beach; I then had to find a safe spot to stash the shoes, inevitably losing a few places meaanwhile.
“Life is a beach”, and if anyone wants to try out barefoot racing, this is the race for it. For sure I was gaining more places than I lost over the out-and-back stretch over the wet tidal strand. I also had a the feeling that we weren’t far behind the lead pack as they headed back from rounding the Black Rock. A further encouragement was to have a tail-wind over the return leg, back to the esplanade. It was at that point I began to feel that my bolt was shot, and that the “wheels were coming off” my race plan, even as my (retrieved) shoes had come off earlier. I salute the kind loons of Kinghorn, as they laughed & cheered this bedraggled barefoot loony making his way to the final descent of Harbour Road. I plodded under the rail viaduct, where the finish was in sight: effin’ell, I hadn’t recalled how steep (1 in 6, I’d guess) and dog-legged that final 100 yards is. All that and a chipped shoe to put back on…think of the waiting bottle of beer to all finishers…hobble, as 20 racers speed past…MADE IT!
The beer was a brilliant choice: “March of the Penguins” stout from William’s of Alloa. Most appropriate, and in the style and spirit of the race as we wend and splash over the strand. I’ll be back next year (I hope) with Plan B for the race chip: fix it to a sweat-band on my ankle, and ditch the old trainers at the beach! My time was terrible – I reckon I lost at least 2 minutes to the runners beside me as I left the beach section – but at least it was under 40 minutes, and I think the chest bug is finally beaten, too. That was Grim all right…
1. Murray Strain (HBT) 22m43
134. Hugh Buchanan (Central) 30m31
423. Robin Thomas (“YP”) (HBT) 35m41
608. GrimGraeme (Westies) 39m07