With Simkiss due to fly out on his holidays in the early hours, and having only completed 3 of the series races thus far – he headed solo to Harborough in a bid to complete his fourth of the 5 races required for the series as the rest of the MCKEP contingency hid under a rock trying not to offend anyone.
Race tactics were considered at length on how best to approach this race, and after settling on a race plan to sit on the shoulder of the race leader(s) before hopefully kicking on in the latter stages, the line-up on the start line was sufficient to completely flip flop on that idea.
The race started perfectly on time, and with an opening lap around a small field Simkiss felt a quick spurt to get to the front was sensible to avoid the congestion going round the tight bends, and to best see/avoid the lovely ankle breaking divots. as the race exited the field and onto the roads, only one followed Simkiss; a young looking chap in a yellow vest, similar in proportion to Simkiss but notably lighter and lacking in the thigh department… the unknown took the lead momentarily as Simkiss slowly hauled his ass over the hump of the canal bridge before pushing hard to resume the lead.
The two ran virtually side by side for the first uphill mile, with Simkiss leading the way by a nose hair, passing the mile marker in 5:16, in contrast to 5:20 the previous year – To add some perspective, Simkiss likes to refer to Strava’s GAP (Gradient Adjusted Pace), which suggests an equivalent split of 4:59 had the mile been flat. Too fast…
The second downhill mile of 4:50 saw Simkiss open up a gap as he began to picture himself supping Pina Coladas poolside in the Greek Islands. By 2.5mi the downhill was over, and after a few undulations heading into Lubenham, a gentle climb saw mile 3 ticked off in 5:15. As the main climb began, Simkiss was left wanting, the hips feeling tight and pressure dropping in the old steam engine saw the pace slow, and the youthful ‘unknown’ (to Simkiss) athlete Ash Chambers came trotting past and opened up a significant gap to the tune of 80-100m. 4mi passed in 5:56 for Simkiss (the same mile took 5:39 last year in similar levels of discomfort), but at last, after 0.75mi of pure uphill, the summit was reached.
The final mile offered Simkiss a chance to open up the legs again, and whilst he closed the gap somewhat to Chambers, it was never going to be enough… Simkiss relinquished his Harborough title, fuming that someone better had the audacity to turn up and beat him. Final mile in 5:15, finish time 26:43 – 6 seconds behind Chambers, 34seconds behind his time from last year of 26:09… age is clearly taking its toll, although the glory of a new strava segment course record for the final sprint around the field at the end of the race counts for much more than the race result anyway.
EMGP rule changes for 2015 mean UKA rules are being enforced specifically for teams who threaten to win a prize – thus another incomplete MCKEP team will be appearing at the Weedon 10k, before the final race in Milton Keynes where Simkiss hopes to wrap up the series title with a top 5 finish.