INVERKEITHING HIGHLAND GAMES[Sat Aug 8th]...........preview by SHANE FENTON
Inverkeithing Highland Games is a unique event, with it being the only one of it's kind in Scotland which sees all the running and cycling events take place on a red ash/cinder track.
It is also a 400 metre track, one of only two on the games circuit - the other at Blackford [grass] in Perthshire.
Nowadays, nearly all cinder tracks have been replaced by all weather synthetic surfaces which provide greater durability and are less stressful on runners.
It's a bit like horses for courses some runners like running on the cinders others hate it.
The last Olympics to be staged on a cinder track were the 1964 games in Tokyo.
Tradition however dies hard on the Scottish Games circuit and Inverkeithing are proud to still stage their races on the aptly named Ballast Bank.
In the old days runners would sharpen their racing spikes for better grip on the cinders and would rub graphite on them so they would not pick up too much ash.
Up to a couple of years ago the Games offered a prize of £1000 to any athlete running a sub- 4 minute mile on the red ash, this was never likely to happen and the incentive has now been dropped, a great publicity stunt nevertheless. It brings to the question has anyone ever ran a sub-4 minute mile anywhere in Scotland never mind on cinders.
It's the day of the year the cyclists look forward to, after weeks of slogging round often heavy rain soaked tracks they revel in the speeds they can achieve on the faster surface, although it can be a bit of a leveler among the riders and often the handicapper has to tighten up the starts.
On a dry sunny day the bikes aren't always popular with the crowds who often go home the same colour as the track, as the bikes throw up a huge plume of dust as they speed around the circuit, as one worthy put it one year, '' they bikes are chuckin up a helluva stoor.''
There is a full programme of events for both runners and cyclists as well as all the traditional heavy event contests, pipe bands, highland dancing and tug of war.
Published: 2015-08-06 10:51:01