The Cotswold Hilly Hundred Relay, organised by Stratford AC, is (would you believe it) a race of approx. 100mi, Starting in Stratford, and venturing down and through the Cotswolds and back over (very) Hilly terrain, in a relay format of 10 legs.
In the absence of McCarthy – Simkiss was the sole MCKEP representative left to ensure the Hilly100 title came back to the dusty shelf of the pokey Kenilworth Runners club room for the bazillionth year since time began. With victory guaranteed from the outset – the race was something of a formality with the biggest challenge being to avoid womanly shoulder strap lines from the Green Army singlet.
Simkiss was revisiting Leg 4 of the race for the 3rd time, having previously completed the leg in 2009 and 2011. A slightly modified start and finish to the leg added a certain level of excitement to the route, but the MCKEP athlete was struggling to fire himself up for the lonely effort around the most undulating leg of the course.
Reports of Friday night dogging were confirmed as leaked photos of Simkiss in action appeared across the internet – the aftermath of which meant further busy day and late night on Saturday, with no running and no stretching – Simkiss arrived at the Hilly100 on Sunday with rested, but somewhat tight and unresponsive legs.
The early miles of the run felt slow, but Simkiss wasn’t able to wind up the pace. The ascents were tough, and the descents were brutal enough that pace was hampered; Simkiss was having to apply the brakes to stay upright and his quads were taking a battering in the process.
The infamous hill at the end of leg 4 (a proper bitch of a climb, by anyone’s standards) was approaching and Simkiss readied himself, shedding grams of excess weight in disposing of his sunglasses to the team support vehicle; this would no doubt help the 12 stone, fat thighed athlete float up the mountainous ascent.
Simkiss rounded the first bend with quads starting to burn, and readied himself for the steepest portion of the climb – not knowing whether to hit the apex of the corner and tackle a steeper gradient, or stay to the outside of the bend for a more gradual incline. Shorter of course is always better, and as Simkiss hit the apex, legs filling with lactic and moving marginally above walking pace – he questioned why he wasn’t just walking.
Over the worst of the climb the athlete began to open up (a relative term given his slow ascending pace), before realising he was still absolutely nowhere near the summit. Days later, Simkiss emerged at the top of the climb – and where in past years he would be handing the relay batten to the next runner before collapsing in a heap, the modified route meant there was still half a mile to endure before the end of the leg.
Simkiss was pleased to break the hour with a time of 59:24 which means absolutely nothing given the hilly nature of the route and no previous times to compare against, although with a day to reflect, Simkiss is understandably disappointed with his performance and concedes that there’s still ‘work to do’ in training.