The wrap-up to the Birmingham Cross Country League was Race 4 – Okay this wasn’t really a planned session as such, but it did form a quality portion of the week. The scene was set at Pittville Park in Cheltenham, opposite the Prince of Wales Stadium – Recent weather conditions had increased the depth of the stream crossing by several inches and understandably the course had to be modified accordingly, the start and finish locations had changed but otherwise the course was very similar to past years.
A sunny day for the ladies race soon passed and the clouds came over for the Men’s race… winds had been blowing all day but seemed to increase further and raindrops began to fall moments before the race got underway.
Simkiss, the only one of the MCKEP team bothering to attend, was feeling happy off the back of an increased level of training, feeling that a good performance was due now that his training resembled something closer to what it should be, rather than the low mileage efforts prior to other recent races.
Setting off behind men’s captain Phil Gould the pace felt okay. Simkiss had anticipated a surge from Captain Gould at some point on the course, and had decided he would stick with it when it came. When the surge did come through a more technical section of the course, Gould kicked as the Kenilworth pair approached BRAT athlete Ed ‘The Beard’ Banks, Simkiss followed and they moved past Banks. Gould surged again moments later and Simkiss again followed stride for stride, there was now a solid gap to Banks.
The surges were fine for Simkiss, requiring effort… but not too much. Or so he thought; within a few hundred metres Simkiss’ legs were beginning to tighten and he struggled to maintain the pace – losing ground to Gould. A lack of fast pace training was blamed: “nothing at or around lactate threshold pace in training meant the surges were a big shock, and the accumulation of lactic acid was noticeable”.
This theme continued and after dropping some ground to Gould, Simkiss hovered around the same position for the remainder of the race – battling for places with chasing athletes on the final lap, but holding them as the race came into the final 400m kick.
Simkiss left as 3rd Kenilworth counter for the second time in the Brum League XC calendar, which was probably more of a reality check than his overall position in the race. “It’s about time he pulled his finger out” the backroom staff at the elite project have said “Maybe now he’ll stop eating so much sh!t, and stop running sh!t”.