And so to Manchester, where McCarthy was entering his third ‘race’ in five days, fresh from a devastating win at the Warrington Parkrun in 18:05 a day earlier, this of course followed his third place at the Silverstone 10k in 33:22 on Wednesday.
Arriving in Manchester with only 3 and a half hours before the start of the race, a new ‘early arrival’ PB had already been set as McCarthy continues to try and out do Chris Jordan in being the number one ‘early arriver’. Race number collected and a trip to Café Nero completed, it was time to go and sit in the car for a few hours before beginning a lengthy period of warming up and standing around and feeling inadequate in the Elite athlete area.
50 minutes until the race began, McCarthy just made it to the holding area where he was seen shaking hands with Ron Hill and Haile Gebrselassie. Conscious there was a serious race to be completed, McCarthy refused to shake any more hands and point blank ignored Kipsang and Lagat before making one exception for Bill from BBC Breakfast, who he decided was worthy of a handshake himself.
McCarthy was extremely confident that his road PB of 32:37, set last year in Leeds, would be completely out of reach, but decided to just have a go at it anyway and run extremely hard from the off and see what happens, hoping the fast front end and relatively quick course would deliver an unexpected PB. It didn’t. The race began and McCarthy quickly sat in behind the other 37 athletes in the elite field of 38, wary of their pacing strategy and confident that the field seemed far too loaded with international superstars and sub 30 UK athletes, for them to have got the pacing correct.
The first mile flew by in 4:52…the second in 5:16 and the third in 5:15, before 5k in 16:15. McCarthy had been completely detached from the lead group but more annoyingly found himself alone for most of that 5k in what felt like quite a strong wind. As the course worked back around to head for home, the wind seemed to turn with it and there was nowhere to hide and at the hard part of the race, the 6 and 7k, the pace began to drop as the small undulations felt like mountains and the breeze felt like a tornado. 5:18, 5:26 and 5 mile in 26:09, a PB was going out of the window and all of a sudden even sub 33 was looking unachievable.
Knuckling down and giving it everything for a really stong last mile or so, the clock ticked onto 33:00 as McCarthy crossed the line in 33rd. An improvement from Wednesday but quite a disappointing race overall, the time was acceptable but to feel like there was no advantage gained from such a stacked field is a shame. The route isn’t a quick one either, the undulations and turns out at Old Trafford can’t be conducive to a fast course, as for the wind, that happens.
Ignoring all those excuses, however, was FOTP Peter Brookes with a fantastic run to break 31 minutes, absolutely fantastic running.