Kerry Prior is a singular figure among all Blackall participants; he's the only competitor to have completed every single year in the same distance - in his case it's the 50km event. His interview with us revealed somewhat of a ultra running-orientated modern day philosopher. In his words "I feel a little bit of an imposter ... as all I've really done is stay alive long enough to get a few runs completed". Humble, gracious and tenacious throughout his NINE Blackall finishes, it's fitting that Kerry is on track to be the first runner to hit the coveted 500 Club by completing 50km races exclusively. He is therefore a worthy inclusion - and our only 50km representative thus far - as our latest Blackall Icon.
Kerry, it's great to chat about your incredible Blackall record. The most obvious question first - will you be back for Blackall 2023?
Absolutely, as you know I never miss one.
Image: Kerry finishing his first Blackall 50km at the inaugural race in 2014. The finish precinct in the mid-arvo was a much quieter place back then (apart from the odd motorbike).
By my count you're on track for being the 1st to achieve the 500 Club via the 50km race. Do you think about that in your planning and prep and does it motivate you at all?
Yes, I am the only person still left that has competed in every year the event has been running. I have only ever chosen to do the 50km race at Blackall even though I have completed several 100km events elsewhere. Injury and illness is always lurking for all trail runners, and there have been a couple of years (mainly the last two) where I probably should not have entered, however the lure of completing 10 straight Blackall 50's has definitely been a motivating force for me over the last few years.
Image: Kerry needing both hands to count his Blackall exploits - notching up his 8th run in 2021.
If you think back to 2014 and the first ever Blackall, what was it that made you sign up?
I love trails and I love running, so when we finally got this event on our backdoor 10 years ago I wasn't going to miss the opportunity to be involved.
Image: The beginning of the legacy - the opening kms of Kerry's first Blackall 50km in 2014.
How has the event changed over the years?
I would like to think the spirit of the event hasn't changed at all over the years. It has gotten a lot bigger, however with Brett and the crew from Run Qld still in control the feel and atmosphere is still very inviting and fun.
Image: Kerry achieved his Blackall 50 PB in "the wet year", 2017
Blackall is renowned for having a bit of everything in terms of terrain and scenery. Do you have a favourite section and perhaps sections that you particularly dread?
I love the whole course, and have seen quite a few changes to it over the years. It is so diverse it is hard to pick a favourite, although I will admit I love it when the bluff climb is behind me each year. I do love the run home through the Linda Garret section as by then you know you are going to get home, and you can just enjoy the last 10k.
Image: Kerry has been around for all the various course changes over the years, including 2016 and 2017 when the 50km was re-routed to include the Cooloolabin Dam loop
Thinking back, what's been your all-time favourite moment at Blackall?
My most memorable moment occurred in my second Blackall I think.
My wife is a much better athlete than me, and I have never been able to beat her in a running event. However in this particular year with about 10k to go I came up behind her, she had been struggling with cramps for a bit and I was able to catch her. Instead of running ahead (as she would have done ) I stayed with her, she eventually came good and we were able to run home finishing together. I have the photo of us that you took, crossing the finish line together and it is still my favourite memory from any of the races. (ps. her finishing time was still 1sec better than mine)
Image: Kerry and his wife finishing the 2015 event together
As one of the most capped Blackall runners, do you have any advice for a first timer who is planning their B50 debut this October?
Don't underestimate your ability. It is an awesome event and the best advice I can offer is to enjoy the whole experience. Lap it up,it's going to hurt at times, and it's going to feel amazing at others. But most importantly during both the highs and lows don't forget to look around and enjoy where you are at that point in the race, and smile.
Image: The amazing post-race feeling. Kerry with good mate (and Run Queensland celebrity) Simon K, 2022
What's your post-B100 recovery routine?
Fairly simple; pizza and beer, and check when entries open for the next year.
How many events do you do each year (on average)?
As I get a bit older and a few injuries are catching up I am reducing the number of events I do each year. I always put Blackall on the calendar and if I can fit a couple of other events in around that I am happy. The most "ultras" I have done in any given year is 7, but that was too many. It's not always just about events, I truly enjoy training in the bush, and the comradery that comes with running with like minded people.
Image: Kerry soaking in the glorious Blackall single-trail, 2020
What's your favourite distance?
I do love the 50k distance. You can get it done in a reasonable time and then enjoy everything going on around the event.
Are you a headphones and music and/or podcast type runner?
I prefer the solitude and peace and quiet of running on trails. I will take headphones if I am doing a particularly long run, or at night if I don't necessarily want to hear everything rustling around me.
Any particular tech or equipment that you can't live without on a long run?
I do love my data and feel very naked if I happen to forget my watch. Apart from that I try not to get too hung up on gear.
Image: Pre-race 2019.
Do you have any pre-race rituals/superstitions or lucky charms that you rely on for race days?
Not really but I do always try to have a pasta meal the night before. I also tend to prefer not to eat on the morning of a race.
Which event (anywhere in the world) would you love to have a go at?
UTMB, I have done the trek and I just love that part of Europe so much. I would love to live in Chamonix for a while at some point in the future.
Image: The Blackall Bluff 2020. Apart from the modest elevation, lack of snow, and quintesential Australian farmland backdrop, it's pretty similar to Chamonix!
If you could choose anyone (living or dead) to go for a run with, who would it be with and where would you run?
I am a solo runner, I prefer to train on my own and I always try to run my own race. I just love the quiet time and the peace of being on your own with nature. However when the run is finished I love nothing better than a coffee or beer (depending on the time of day) with my running buddies. I have met so many wonderful people through trail running and have developed some wonderful lifelong friendships.
Image: Kerry's peace and quiet being interrupted by SOK, 2015
Any other sports/activities other than trail runs that you enjoy?
I have always enjoyed a variety of sports, these days I do a bit of paddling and mountain biking when I'm not running.
We're now nudging closer to race day for 2023 and your 10th outing. How are you feeling?
All I can say is that I often describe Blackall to people as my "Christmas Day". I look forward to it like no other day on the calendar each year. I keep telling my long suffering wife that I am nearly done, just one more year. Hopefully I'm still telling her that as I get ready to complete my next 10 years.
I can't wait to do the interview in prep for your 20 year celebrations Kerry! But for now, I'm really looking forward to you chalking up your 10th finish and your induction into the 500 Club. Thanks again for taking part in our interview, I hope the prep from here goes well and I'll see you in October!
In trying to decide which of your finish/bell-ringing shots to include, I decided to round out the article by including all 9! Here they are in chronological order
Check out our other Blackall icons here.
Check out all our images of previous Blackall races on our Past Events page