HUNDREDS of runners and spectators descended on Kinghorn on Friday for the iconic AGR Black Rock 5 race as it celebrated its 25th birthday.
The popular race – set in the shadow of the Forth bridges – takes runners from the streets of Kinghorn, out across the Pettycur sands, around ‘The Black Rock’ – where competitors can find themselves running in knee-deep water – before returning to the village for a gruelling uphill finish.
This year’s winner, Corstorphine’s Kris Berry, showed the field a clean pair of heels to claim the title in a time of 23 minutes, two seconds.
Berry was first to cross the line ahead of team mate Mickey Breen (23.29), who came in second, distancing himself from multiple previous winner Don Naylor (23.49) of Hunters Bog Trotters, who was third in the race but also first over-40 runner home.
The winning time did not threaten the long-standing race record but the underfoot conditions were particularly difficult with deeply rippled sand testing the endurance of all 714 finishers.
In the ladies race Central AC’s Jennifer Emsley (27.19) beat HBT’s Eilis McKechanie (27.29) and Sarah O’Neill (28.29) into second and third place respectively.
Sverre Skogen, the CEO of the sponsoring company AGR, flew in from Norway to participate and also joined in the post-race party at the Carousel, where he also presented the prizes.
At the conclusion of the 25th anniversary celebrations there was a great reception for the news that there could possibly be 1000 participants in 2013.
A cheque for £1000 was presented to the Julian Memorial Hall fund to assist in remedial works to allow the hall to be brought back into use.
John McKay, race director, who has been involved since the first race in 1987, said: “The race has become a firm favourite on the Scottish running calendar.
“In fact, securing a place has become almost as big a challenge as completing the race itself as we sell out within a matter of hours!”
Demonstrating its popularity the race secured a place in a book titled ‘World’s Ultimate Running Races’ bagging itself a place amongst the top 500 races in the world, which also includes a race along The Great Wall of China, a run up the stairs of the Empire State Building and a gruelling slog across the Sahara Desert.
Unusually the race takes place on a Friday evening and this year it kicked off at 7.45 p.m – to time it just right for the tides – while the social aspect of the event has become almost as important as the race itself.
Eilidh Fearn of sponsors AGR participated in the race, and added: “What a fantastic and unique way to spend a Friday night. I really enjoyed the race.
“It’s so unusual with all the different types of terrain. I was dreading having to run in the water but when it came to it – it was actually really refreshing.
“The steep hill at the end was a complete killer but the locals were out in force, and hearing the crowd cheer you on keeps you running until the end – it was completely magical.”
The full list of results is listed in this week’s edition of the Fife Free Press.