I first heard about this race a few years ago and thought it sounded fun, but it didn’t fit in with my plans at the time and I promptly forgot about it until someone at work mentioned signing up this year. Coming at a time when I had nothing specific to be working towards, a fun 5k on the beach sounded ideal.
Entry was really straightforward. I can’t remember the price but I don’t think it cost too much and there was the option to add a race Tshirt (white, since runners were encouraged to wear white for this one) which I did buy.
Race day was the 3rd of June and since Steve was training for his half Ironman he decided to cycle there whilst I went by car. This meant that I had a fairly leisurely morning as the race didn’t start until midday.
Arriving at the West Sands I was directed to a parking spot then walked the short distance to collect my race number and Tshirt. It was then a return to the car to get organised – Tshirt on, race number on, timing chip on shoe – before walking around the site to fill in some time. Sadly it was a rather cool day and the sea mist (haar) had come in so it looked quite murky.
When Steve arrived we got him sorted out and put his things in the car for safekeeping then headed onto the beach where the kids’ race was just finishing and everyone was gathering for the main event.
The draw behind this race is the chance to run on the stretch of beach famous for the filming of that iconic scene in Chariots of Fire. Participants are encourage to wear white and the Chariots theme seems to be played on a loop. Who hasn’t been out for a run, particularly if it was a beach run, and not imagined themselves in the film?
The route was simple – run out on the wet sand until the turn around point (marked by a piper) then return the same way. I was so caught up in running on the beach for the first time and soaking up the atmosphere that I was quite surprised to see runners already heading back towards me. A little further along and I realised that the turnaround was going to be early – after 1 mile rather than 1.55 miles – therefore making the route short. To be honest, this didn’t bother me as I wasn’t treating it as a super serious event and it meant I would get the coveted race swag a bit sooner!
Yes, the swag. Other than the running on the beach thing, this race is also known for the post-race goodies: a medal, fudge doughnut (from a well-known local baker) and a bottle of a locally brewed beer.
We ate the doughnuts straight away and the beers went in the car to enjoy that evening.
Then, of course, we had to take some photos!
I know some people were a little annoyed at the short route, however it didn’t really bother me. My aims for the day were to wear white, hear the Chariots theme, run on the beach and get a medal/doughnut/beer. All of these aims were achieved and I was happy with my performance.
On a more serious note, the organisers were quick to accept responsibility for the mistake with an apology at the prize giving (we had left by then) and posts on social media. For me, these steps were the most important part. Mistakes happen, it’s all about how you deal with them afterwards and I have in the past seen race directors pretty much avoid taking any responsibility for errors on the day. As a result, I’ve tended to avoid races by those organisers in future, but would have no problem at all with returning to Chariots again next year.
If you’re in the St Andrews area in early June then I definitely recommend this race. Well organised, friendly and a refreshing bit of fun in the race calendar. Oh, and there’s doughnuts and beer…!