On the 15th August, Chris McCarthy and Tony McCarthy of the McCarkiss Endurance project made the 60 mile journey from Rotonda West, Florida, to Cape Coral. A 4 AM start was not a problem, it’s the normal wake up time for any race in the UK, but this one started at 7am in an attempt to reduce the impact of the 35 degree heat, but more importantly the near 100% humidity.
Arriving at around 6 AM in utter darkness on a beautiful coastline, this was very different from arriving at the Corby 5. That said, no one can speak English properly here or in Corby. A ‘quick’ five days of continuous internet stalking revealed that the race had been run seven times previously and the course record was 16:24, set by Ross Lanahan of Ohio State, just last month. McCarthy Junior felt he had about as much chance as McCarthy senior did of running that time, given that he had only just matched it at the slightly less scenic Warrington Parkrun two weeks previous, in more humane conditions. McCarthy senior however only had to run about 23 minutes to break the Vet55 course record and given his recent low 18 times in the Northern Vets and British Masters Champs, he could probably afford to run dressed as Mickey Mouse whilst dishing out donuts to fat kids.
12 days of acclimatisation had gone well. Every run had been torturous and horrible. Really horrible. The type of hungover, dehydrated, why are we doing this type of horrible that few runners get. The type of feeling only Northern runners get following a day on the beach in Malaga. Alcohol had flowed continuously and Chris had all but perfected the reverse twist bomb onto a lilo. A mere glimmer of hope came from a 6×800 the pair had struggled through, whilst Chris had put in a 8×400 session on a track in Miami, going against his mantra of not doing reps of less than 800 due to the fact it was too hot and seemed an easy option. That said it was followed by a night of fantastic fried chicken that, as good as it was, he didn’t need to see it again the next morning in lane 5 with a large Mojito.
Arriving at Race HQ, in darkness, everyone was nice and friendly. It was like a Parkrun on LSD. Without the cakes. A three mile warm up made it obvious that a 7am start was going to make a slight difference, of about 1 degree. The humidity was lower however but not enough to stop Chris from sweating up like a slightly angry yet nervous horse before the Grand National.
As people began to gather at the start line it was a majestic scene of high fives, fist pumps and some of the fattest people who have ever dared to wear tight sportswear. In contrast though, there was a raft of some of the most professional looking people. Chris was doing Jordan’s trade marked ‘leg check’ to verify the poser from the true runner, there didn’t seem to be too much to worry about. Course Record holder and previous race winner Ross Lanahan made his way to the start line and the heart of McCarkiss sank. To add insult to injury, news was just filtering in from Canada where Adcock had been pipped to second by a matter of seconds, the pressure was on Florida McCarkiss to get some international MCKEP glory. McCarkiss had gone bloody international this weekend with the McCarthys in USA, Adcock racing in Canadia, as a drunken Simkiss calls it, and Jordan in EuroDisney….on the log flume.
Having been offered a few high fives and fist pumps, Chris pushed his way through to the second row, unable to penetrate the strong front row that consisted of children seemingly from a Track Club or a local Baptist Church, plus a woman with a wheelchair who obviously thought starting at the front was the sensible thing to do so she didn’t get in everyone’s way. (It turned out she was actually relatively fast….but still…in everyone’s way).
The race began and after about 200 McCarthy Junior was in 4th whilst Tony was further back celebrating his category win. Turning around a hairpin, not literally, after half a mile, McCarthy wrote off his pre race plan of sitting on the shoulder of the person who was a danger and in true McCarkiss style thought ‘fuck it’. Lanahan was a good twenty metres back, clearly planning a sensible paced race in the extreme heat. Given the amount of little shits that went off so quick it was clear he probably sits back and just picks them off through the first couple of miles before winning with ease.
With this theory developed in McCarthys head it was too late to think sensibly so he just put his foot down and went through the first mile in 4.53. At halfway the race turned a cone and McCarthy could see his danger man had moved up but was still twenty seconds down. In the words of Pre, this was turning into a pure guts race and as we know with McCarthy, he is definetly not the one to win it. Two down in 5.11 for 10:04. It was itchy bum time. Turning a corner McCarthy could feel the Stars and Stripes breathing down his neck, he could hear the Nike trainers, once handmade in Eugene, now mass produced in Taiwan, closing in on him. More of an insight though, was when McCarthy passed spectators they didn’t make a noise, but at an ever reducing time interval as the race went on whooping and hollering of ‘Go Ross’ and ‘You the Man Tiger’, followed closely. USSSAA USSSAAA USSAAA. It was like The Ryder Cup but shit, predictable and of no interest to anyone. It was like the Walker Cup basically.
At the final turn McCarthy realised his friend from across the pond that couldn’t quite speak English as bad as himself was 5 yards off him and it was time to kick, McCarthy released his devastating kice, the one that Simkiss knows only too well, he released a huge spurt of exactly the same pace. 200 metres to go, Lanahan passes, McCarthy sees the clock through his stinging sweaty salty contact lenses (getting contact lenses in the USA is a whole different blog post, it’s impossible. Easier to go to Walmart, buy a gun, then massacre the Optometrist and buy your -1.25s) and reads XX:38. Surprisingly it was 15:38 and with another kick of the same speed McCarthy fell over the line for 2nd in 15:58.0 behind Lanahan in 15:52.9.
Further back down the field, McCarthy Senior is high fiving his way home to 1st place in the Grand Master Category, which is apparently 50-59, setting a AG record of 18:46 in the process. Oddly McCarthy was given first place in the 30-34 category and an AG record also, there were admittedly age groups from 10 years old up to 90, with age groups getting much more of a focus than actual positions.
YOU ES AY.