The opening counting race of the annual inter club games saw the MCKEP duo pitched in the 5000 alongside fellow KR’s, Siggers and Gould.Arriving with 45 minutes to spare, spirits were high in the recently cleaned MCKEP Diesel Ford Focus Estate with Roofbox. Tunes were up and windows were down, never have two people driven through Warwickshire looking like such d*ckheads. McCarthy with straw hat and shades, barely able to see following a trade-off between his glasses and his shades.
A 2 mile warm up around the canal left the trio of Siggers, McCarthy and Simkiss absolutely drenched in sweat, this was going to be a tough one in such exotic conditions. Alas, sub 16 was the target and with one 5k specific rep session under the belt this year the hard work was done, the effort had been put in, it was just a case of going through the motions.
McCarthy had the perfect preparation with a 125 mile trip to drop off the family cat with his parents, where he managed to fit in a 3 mile leg loosener, before driving 125 miles back home. Simkiss went to work and spent the day looking for sharp edges on cars.
The crowds were throbbing like a well greased pre race groin. It was quite obvious that the organisers had made a fantastic decision in emulating the Premier League by pulling the big fixture of the day to an earlier start time to ensure crowd trouble and boozing was minimised.
As Jimmy gave the team talk to the KR Ladies, McCarthy just could not take his eyes off the Brummy Torso of the scrappy Halesowen addonis. The male quartet waited and waited for a topless team talk from Sara but it wasn’t forthcoming and they trotted over to the start line slightly despondent, McCarthy still banging on about the god like body of Jimmy.
Coach Pete and Mrs Coach Pete were on split duty for the Elite Project, 76 was the magic number which would deliver a 15:50. The race began and Phil G took out the pace, narrowly missing out on the UK record for 200 but was still the first white Brit to go sub 20 for 200. This electric pace continued to the 210m mark where the gap held static for the next couple of laps – Siggers leading out McCarthy and Simkiss in a 79 first lap, and a 76 second lap, before Simkiss – terrified of the extra ~3m per lap he was covering by running the outer edge of Lane 1, pushed to the front and settled in for the ride – McCarthy sat in the passenger seat and Simkiss set the cruise control.
The MCKEP truck quickly caught Gould, and spat him out the back – 76, 76, 77, 76, 76, 77 like a well oiled machine the laps were ticked off on target – though the fatigue was building for pace setter Simkiss. Sensing his weakness, McCarthy saw an opportunity and set about decimating his teammate, with a deadly gentle increase in pace which Simkiss couldn’t match – the gap rapidly opened to 10-15m with 4 laps to go. Siggers and Gould were still on the track – somewhere; all eyes were on the MCKEP pair as McCarthy’s higher training volume compared to Simkiss was giving him the edge. McCarthy was maintaining his 76’s whilst Simkiss had slipped to the 77/78 area.
Coach Pete provided the catalyst for Simkiss at the start of the penultimate lap. McCarthy basking in glory having dropped Simkiss and virtually guaranteed himself victory as Simkiss had resigned himself to a second place finish, and with it the months, nay, years of “do you remember when…” typically associated with a McCarthy victory. “Start to close him down now” said Coach – a valid suggestion with great potential. Simkiss tore himself from the runners grave he was digging and followed Coach’s order, catching McCarthy down the back straight and continuing his effort to make a clean pass, proving that he was just being a bloody over-dramatic nancy-boy on the previous lap(s). McCarthy unfurled his emergency SOS towel making Simkiss’ bid for freedom that little bit easier. Simkiss stampeding round the final 400 to finish in 15:53, with McCarthy coming in 8 seconds later – 16:01. Incidently, these were 3 second 5km PB’s for both athletes.
Siggers followed in 3rd, Gould 4th – adamant of his perfect opening pace and shunning the slow start / even pace tactic of the Elite project (and most other winners of endurance track races). The MCKEP duo were unable to argue, being too busy with signing autographs and posing for photos on this historic occasion of an MCKEP 1,2 on the track. To this very day, 2 days on, people still recall the emphatic battle, likened to Ali / Frazier – of course, McCarthy renowned for his ability to float like a butterfly.
Next up for the Elite Project, Simkiss was flying solo in the 400m – drawing lane 2, he was just inside Kenilworth Team Mate, and his Captain, Stevey Page. After an unavoidable delay to the start owing to hoodlums hiding the Stratford AC team Baby Oil bottle, Rob ‘Muscles’ Minton joined to the track, dressing as he arrived – Simkiss duly sucked in his flabby gut and prepared to race.
Minton, the only runner knowing how to start a race properly from the crouch position and wearing spikes, got off to a fantastic start opening up the gap further afforded to him by the staggered start system which is completely confusing to road runners racing on the track trying to gauge their progress. Page had also opened a gap, silencing pundits who were convinced Page would be averaging his regular “6:19/mi, easy paced effort”. Simkiss’ legs were nowhere and were struggling to break out of the monotony of 76sec 400’s from the earlier 5000m. As the race entered the final bend, Minton lead by some distance – Page also held a good gap to Simkiss but there was little to fear, as the tighter line of lane 2 would see the race unwind into the home straight with Simkiss ahead.
Of course this didn’t happen – and as Simkiss attempted to deploy his deadly finishing kick, all he could muster was a slight increase in pace, a lot of thigh slapping together, and a general struggle to stay upright. Knowing 2nd and 3rd place were secure for Kenilworth – Simkiss casually looked across to check the position of the 4th placed runner and protect the teams points – an indication to the crowd that he was cruising and in control rather than the stumbling mess that he actually was. 3rd in 59sec.
McCarthy’s Golden Mile came next which was to be little more than a point scoring mission for team Kenilworth. Paddy Roddy – previously rumoured to be joining MCKEP following his transition into manhood, but having refrained due to the Cambridge University Athletics Coach saying “No”. Roddy’s University athletics coach possibly said “I’m not having you shaming us by associating with these former polytec’ boys – you’re already on your last warning following your recent outbursts of ‘road running’, now give me 20x200m then join me in the showers”. Simkiss predicted a 4:30 target for Roddy, who duly set out with a 67 second first lap – bang on target for 4:30. Lap 2… 73sec. Boom. Gone. Roddy won the mile in 4:41, McCarthy 2nd in a little under 5mins, proving to the doubters that he could in fact finish a race without Simkiss alongside him. Meanwhile Simkiss received minor counselling for the anxiety experienced watching his beloved race 4 laps unaided.
The Medley Relay
A dream team was assembled for the final men’s race of the evening, the medley relay, consisting of two 200m legs, a 400m, and an 800m leg. The face of Midlands running, and author of the vastly popular facebook thing titled “Kyza Derby M”, Kyza Derby was up first – having been unexpectedly beaten by an old man in the 100m sprint, Derby had identified his weaknesses and was ready to do battle again. Friend of the project Stu Hopkins, took the second leg, having been out-jogged on the final stretch in the individual 800m by a Librarian (or pursuer of an alternative intellectual, non sportive profession), the 200m should suit Hopkins better. Well those legs happened, and McCarthy set off, in about 3rd place, and finished his 400m leg, in 3rd place. Simkiss took over the final 800m about 10m behind 2nd place Siggers (off of t’other Kenilworth Medley Team) and a further 5m behind Minton (Stratford AC). Simkiss felt empty, void of energy, and whinging to himself about being on the verge of calf cramp from the off and so again settled to finish in his current position; it wasn’t until Siggers began to fade a little on the back straight of lap 2 that Simkiss stopped being sh!t and realised he could go quicker. Siggers was caught and passed, but Minton was a mile away. The gap closed significantly down the home stretch, not only due to the shear grit and determination displayed by Simkiss as he gave it everything – but also Minton, whom had dropped to a casual jog by this point.
The evening was rounded off with a pleasant chat with the photographer for the evening Richard Morris, a former 800m runner in his heyday equally capable of sub 51 for the 10 mile. The MCKEP pair were pleased to find someone willing to talk openly about the mediocrity of their performances, and the general lower standards of running today. Morris highlighted the importance of speedwork as the foundation of a runners training, which they can they build upon. With Simkiss and McCarthy being far from the ‘developmental’ age in their athletic careers – could this nugget of wisdom send the MCKEP athletes off on another training tangent in an attempt to ‘get quick, quick’?