With a period of fairly consistent training (and moaning) behind him, Simkiss set sail for Bourton on the Water to see what he was capable over the 10k distance with little more than marathon base building under his belt. Weekday training predominantly consisted on of an easy morning run (3-4mi), and an afternoon run home varying in intensity from easy (6:15/mi) to hard (5:55/mi) with no rhyme nor reason, and the occasional weekend long run – this was quite a shift from past training as easy runs had seen a notable change of pace, as had his cadence which was now regularly at 185spm or above, only dropping down to 180spm on the more ploddy runs – riveting information, but no mean feat for our big thigh’d friend, and surely this would have an effect on his race. Furthermore Simkiss has grown a beard – this would surely have the biggest effect of all.
An hours pleasant journey down the fosse, Simkiss was parked up, numbered up, and searching for suitable tree coverage amidst his warmup. The legs were feeling good, light, and turning over well – even the discomfort of Plantar Fasciitis which has featured in 83% of workout titles in Simkiss’ training log seemed to be less apparent.
Lining up at the start, there were no familiar faces today… which always makes for a good race.
Off they went, a strong start for Simkiss saw him in free space, with a trio of athletes sprinting ahead, within 200m there was a small gap – and by 500m there was quite a substantial gap for so early in the race, our MCKEPian lead the chasers, except nobody was sat on his shoulder… 500m in and already in no mans land – FFS Simkiss! Sort it out!
– Photos by Barry Cornelius
So 7-800m (one loop of the village) later, steam engine Simkiss had finally got the fire burning and was up to speed – he’d reeled in the early spurters and no sooner had he caught them, he was leading the way – keen to run his own race regardless of what everyone else was doing.
Back past the start line for a second time, Simkiss felt calm and collected with legs working at a high cadence but the pace felt comfortable… Simkiss was surprised to be leading after such a quick start to the race:
I was surprised to be leading after such a quick start to the race
Unbeknownst to our athlete, the first mile was done and dusted in 5:07, cadence was up around 196spm and it all felt very comfortable, all except for the laboured breathing of our former asthmatic runner, the lack of VO2MAX work audibly absent from his running arsenal. He continued to lead through 2mi in 5:09, with the same three athletes still sat on his shoulder. Never before has Simkiss felt this strong and controlled in the early stages of a 10k, it seemed that nothing could stop him, apart from a gentle rise in the road just after 2miles, which saw Simkiss drift backwards as the other 3 slipped comfortably ahead – back on the flat and Simkiss gravitated towards the front once more, commanding the pace through 3mile (5:16) for a 5k split of around 16:08, until the next rise in the road.
You could almost go as far as to say this was a small hill – but within metres Simkiss had been spat out the back of the group, and combined with a surge from the new frontrunner the group was in single file with our man trailing by 10 meters or more… It wasn’t until the switchback around a traffic cone (the marker of all high standard events in the UK) that Simkiss could latch back onto the group. It was perhaps 30m back to the next group of runners (it could just as easily have been 15m or 45m given the reliability of our source), so it looked like the podium spots would be fought out between the current lead group. A 5:15 mile over the most undulating part of the course highlighted the first of the tactical surges, however the gradual climb that followed saw a drop in pace, but not effort as Simkiss remained at the tail end of the group.
Back onto Rissington Road and heading back towards Bourton Village the uphill became a downhill and gravity came to lend a helping hand – Simkiss moved to the front again, but this time with conviction! effort was applied and the MCKEPian had pissed away his intent to run an hard honest effort for time, getting drawn into a battle for position. With 5miles done in 26:19, the last 1.2miles was to make for some excellent spectating, well… it would have been if it were possible to spectate more than a 30m stretch… the BBC really missed a trick by not sending TV cameras to this one.
The group was stringing out and they were sure at least one runner had been dropped.
I was sure we’d dropped at least on runner from the group.
That was until one of the guys in the group trailing 30m behind at halfway came past into the lead.
Another runner followed and Simkiss was now sat in 3rd, positions were changing all over the shop until out of nowhere a huge surge from the back of the group saw Luke Evans of Bristol & West slingshot from the back of the group into a notable lead, only Simkiss was
brave stupid enough to charge after him, but that in itself catapulted Simkiss into a clear second place. With lactate flooding the muscles, he was passed by the Cheltenham athlete as they took the left hand turn towards the final loop of the village. Simkiss now in 3rd and dropping backwards.
– Photos by Barry Cornelius
Dave Bell of Cirencester (37), an athlete Simkiss had by now realised was the same guy who scuppered his hopes of local level fame in the 2014 Shakespeare Half Marathon (edging the win from 2nd place Simkiss by a narrow 2 minute margin) came past to knock McCarkiss from the podium positions entirely. Recomposing and trying to stay relaxed, the gap ceased to grow. Bell had moved into second place and with 500 to go Simkiss was miles (5-10m) behind 3rd place.
Convinced he could give no more, Simkiss gave a little more and drew alongside the Cheltenham athlete, now notably below 5min miling he moved past into 3rd and the gap to second placed Bell became eerily close to being surmountable, nay… it was now indeed possible that Bell could be caught! Rounding the final bend with all but 150m to go, Simkiss was but a couple of strides behind. As 1st place crossed the finish line Simkiss kicked for home, and as the remaining metres dwindled, Simkiss passed Bell wide on the left and was back up into 2nd, and held it to the line.
32:29… 9 seconds slower than PB… that’ll do nicely for this stage of the season.