Following the social media campaign instigated by Chairman Pete, begging McCarthy to reconsider his decision to not run XC this season, our hero dug out his spikes and unscrewed them with a wrench whilst Club Spikeswoman, Pauline, couriered in some 15’s.
Runner of the Month and odds on favourite for Runner of the Year, McCarthy arrived with plenty of time to spare so he decided to sit in the club tent and not warm up whilst it was raining, slowly getting more and more annoyed as his belongings got covered in mud and his trainers got soaked. Simkiss arrived and McCarthy perked up having not seen his MCKEP partner for 6 days due to the Simkiss honeymoon.
Building up to the race Simkiss had enjoyed the ‘less is more’ style that served McCarthy so well in recent months and racked up an impressive 18mi over the preceding two weeks – this relaxed approach, combined with three tonnes of wedding cake and a secret concoction of supplements (courtesy of Beet-it and Mr.Ibuprofen) – the current number two (aka ‘turd of the project’) was guaranteed to be fully fuelled and raring to go. A quick warm up and lube up and the boys joined the back of the starting pen and awkwardly pushed through to the front.
After the initial stampede the McCarkiss pair continued their strong paced start and lead out the Kenilworth Team side by side over the first lap until Simkiss, feeling especially strong, started to move away like a true hero.
Up and over the beacon hill and Simkiss’ eager start to the race was coming to an end as already he was finding himself going backwards in the field. The steep descent usually favours our chunky thighed athlete, instead he flummoxed down the hill and was overtaken by a surging Mr XC, Phil Gould.
McCarthy was dead and buried in Rich’s mind, but an effort had to be made to stay with Gould… and so an effort was made sufficient enough to draw him alongside, and once again marginally in front of Gould, albeit temporarily. Fading again, Simkiss couldn’t understand how he wasn’t winning and could only fathom the poor ratio of carrot cake:fruit cake intake over the previous week as a potential shortfall.
As McCarthy went up the beacon for the final time he had just managed to pass Hopkins but was now 4th counter behind Page, Gould and Simkiss. Attacking the beacon descent, cheers for the MCKEP number 1 echoed around the east side of Royal Leamington Spa and Simkiss knew his time would soon be up. McCarthy passed in the bottom field and moved away – bringing Men’s Captain Steve Page with him in tow – Simkiss was now facing the very real risk of not featuring in the top six, knowing a streamlined Paul Andrew would be close by with ‘friend of the project’ reporter Stu Hopkins not far behind.
As they hit the ditch for the 3rd and final time, a huge leap from McCarthy took him past Gould and back into 1st counter position, Gould scared to attack the ditch like a man decided to side step it. With a mile to go Simkiss regained his position over Page, but lost out to a strong finishing Paul Andrew. McCarthy tried hard to build up a sufficient lead on Gould, quite aware that if the gap at the end was less than 50 metres he would be passed by Gould (regardless of the fantastic and deadly sprint finish McCarthy possesses). He didn’t, and with 10 yards to go McCarthy was passed by Gould. In the final few yards a young lad from Warwick University also attempted to pass McCarthy on the inside, not even a disgraceful elbow to the face from McCarthy could stop this young whipper snapper.
The race referee decided not to DQ McCarthy as pictures later emerged that show how poor his running form is, so no-one could categorically say he elbowed him on purpose. He did.
A fading Simkiss crossed the line 6 seconds later as 4th scorer for the club. A tight packing team resulted in a ‘club best’ 6th place finish for the first race of the season whilst still not quite a full strength team. There was a full McCarkiss debrief the following morning as Simkiss moaned his way round 11mi with McCarthy on very achey legs and sore feet.