The event of the calendar thus far, the Banbury 5 – such hype surrounded this event that it may be shortlisted as a 2015 Diamond League Athletics Fixture. Talk of Simkiss’ non-attempt at the Kenilworth Runners 5 mile Club Record had bounced around the boundaries of Warwickshire, spilling into Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire. Trending on twitter only behind the hashtag #richbroadbentsexmachine; the movement to see Simkiss break the 26minute barrier was becoming as popular as the World renowned mccarkisselite-project blog itself.
The pressure was mounting, and Simkiss was destined for failure from the outset – having bet his entire life savings (consisting mainly of vouchers for “The Running Shop, Northampton”) against himself.
Warm weather, bright sunshine and a changing but notable wind, amidst a myriad of other generic running excuses meant conditions were going to be less than ideal for Simkiss, notwithstanding time constraints limiting him to the use of only two, rather than the usual three Weetabix in his pre race meal. An insurmountable 33% reduction.
Unrest in the McCarkiss camp cast further doubt over the event, as personalities clashed on the car journey between Simkiss and McCarthy over the planned pacing strategy – Simkiss pleading for a 15:14 leadout over the first 3 miles, with a strong but controlled start; McCarthy was only willing to deliver 15:15 with a fast paced start. Bystanders reported hearing McCarthy shouting “I’m sick of being your b!tch Simkiss – I’m not willing to throw my race away with such a ludicrous pace”. With a tear rolling down his face, Simkiss remembered McCarthy’s legs were bound to be tired following his efforts at Sunday’s Two Castles 10k (recently voted “UK’s Most Overhyped Race”) where McCarthy ran well to finish 4th, claiming the 3rd place prize. With this in mind Simkiss reasoned with McCarthy and the duo settled for a 15:14.5 target through 3miles.
After a good length warmup McCarthy bit his lip over Simkiss’ relaxed timekeeping, still changing shoes 7mins before the race start. The pair still arrived in good time, although the start was delayed as organisers struggled to force the race field back 13cm to the regulation imaginary start line – as per the course measurement certificate.
With the race underway the field passed Coventry Godiva athlete Ali Smith running in the opposite direction – Alistair, a former 31min 10k runner who’s seen a drop in form of late following a 3month binge on Nutella,whom dropped out of the Corby 5 in the previous EMGP series race, and failed to keep up with Simkiss at Saturday’s local friendly timed non competitive Parkrun (where Simkiss finished first but did not win), missed the start of the race having tried in vain for 15mins to work his way into a new pair of Kyza Shorts; running’s latest fashion.
Speed of Godiva lead the field out over the first mile, with Simkiss and McCarthy running side by side until the headwind came into play and McCarthy threw himself on the line, providing valuable shielding for Simkiss and passing through the first mile in 4:59. With a hill at the start of the second mile, the pace was dropping and McCarthy was unpacking his towel ready to throw it in. Simkiss moved up onto the shoulder of Harvey Speed and Super Featherweight Toby Spencer jogged alongside, McCarthy worked to stay with the group through 2mile in a further 5:12.
The third mile was the deal breaker with an undulation approaching the village of Broughton and a horrible persistent climb from 2.6mi lasting over one kilometre. Spencer jogged away at the front and adding further supporting data to the “McCarkiss to become King of the Hill” evidence folder, Simkiss began to open a gap to Speed. Working far harder than he should’ve done, the hill was scaled at 5:16/mi pace which destroyed his legs for the remaining miles, Simkiss passed 3mi off target in 3:18 – 4 seconds off plan. McCarthy, aware of the severity of the climb, took it a little more steady in order to save his already battered legs and bring 4th place home comfortably. Simkiss was wavering all over the place as he stampeded through the final miles like an elephant on LSD. Course record (25:59) out of mind – he just wanted it to be over; until it was over, and attention immediately turned to the record… 26:03. Failed. By 4 seconds.
McCarthy’s cruise to the finish was somewhat interrupted by 5th place runner rudely closing in, requiring McCarthy to make an effort to secure position. 4th Place in 26:50, 22 seconds down on last year, although he was pleased to finish ahead of “Jolly Nice Chap” award winner Siggers for the second time in three days.
Simkiss was asked whether, aside from his failure to break the club record, was he satisfied with his performance, he replied.
If only somebody faster hadn’t turned up… I’d have won that.
4th Team counter for Kenilworth Runners, and MCKEP Physio Paul Andrew from P.A.S Therapy was asked for his thoughts. Had he cared to reply he would have likely said:
Simkiss made a valiant attempt at my record today – and did everything within his power to make it happen. His attention to detail is unrivalled, from his haphazard consumption of vitamins and supplements to his weight saving measures of running without socks – there’s little more he could’ve done in preparation. Ultimately though he was let down by his footwear. His trainers simply weren’t bright enough.
MCKEP attention now turns to the coveted Runner of the Month award. Having not broken the club record or won the race, Simkiss’ odds have improved significantly. McCarthy himself stands a great chance following a string of mediocre performances and a 4th place podium finish at Warwick’s most highly acclaimed running event.