McCarthy led out the 6 man team from Kenilworth, full of cold and feeling terrible, the pressure was on to justify his automatic selection following his absence at the Midlands. Keeping rumour of his ‘Ebola-like’ symptoms to within the MCKEP team, the odds on Kenilworth winning the title did not suffer any fluctuation and remained solidly at 176376/1.
Captain Page did a sterling job of ensuring everyone arrived on time, in the correct place, fully clothed and numbered (what a refreshing change from his early captaincy when he would deliberately tell people the wrong date, location and estimated start time…).
Pre race poo done and for the second time this year the lack of portaloo loo roll resulted in a sacrificial offering of McCarthy’s right sock to the poo gods, would the poo gods look down favourably on McCarthy this time? The race began and ten’s of proper runners from around the country shot off leaving McCarthy and the rest of the ‘also rans’ trailing in their wake. Having failed to do a Simkiss style analysis of every previous split from every previous run at Sutton Park, McCarthy had no idea on where he should be or what mile pace he was looking for, it was all somewhat unorganised.
Turning the corner at the top of the humongous hill through the 1st mile in 5:16, McCarthy could see friend of the project and winner of the 2014 Robin Hood Half Marathon, Chris Jordan of Leicester, quite a long way ahead. This was the first real marker point of where McCarthy should be and by the turn point it was still quite a substantial gap. The second mile came up in 5:17, similar to the first one but still meaningless. Now with a tailwind McCarthy began to give it the beans down the hill to ‘Keepers Pool’ and in doing so managed to gain a few places with a third mile of 5:07.
Approaching the final bend and a first sight of the timing clock, McCarthy was now within a few seconds of the Leicester man, but conscious that Ed ‘the beard’ Banks was closing fast. With McCarthy tying up fast on the uphill finish, Banks pushed past McCarthy as Paddy took on the baton for KR. 19:00 dead and 54th for McCarthy who was adamant the clock read a few seconds less, but unlike the 2013 Milton Keynes 10k, he decided not to have a row with the timekeeper.
P-Roddy shot off at a solid pace. Having arrived early and followed the “Cambridge Boys Guide to Warming Up for Athletic Endeavours” to a tee, the Rod-meister was seen charging into the club tent 2 minutes before his leg start frantically looking for his race shoes. The trauma was too much for Roddy as he spent his 3.7mi still worrying about his shoe drama rather than running his arse off, and ultimately came home in 19:24 – slower than his Midlands ‘relay effort, and neither losing, nor gaining in the overall standings.
Andrew ‘the machine’ Siggers took over and set off on leg 3. Andrew was lucky to have made the start line having reportedly just run back from Berlin – where he’d run a 2:25 marathon last weekend. Siggers showed he was running on weary legs and well off peak form with critics berating him over the slip in standards, dropping 13 seconds over his Midlands time, and only clocking the teams second fastest leg of 19:05 – moving the team up into 51st position. Andrew promptly ran back to Rugby to bake his patented ‘runner of the month’ apple pie before taking the County 10mile Championship Title with a morning trot around at the “Rugby 10”.
MCKEP athlete Simkiss stepped up to the plate for Leg 4 – having felt good in the week and focussed on a good warmup and plenty of stretching; the legs felt fresh and ready to go. Cov’ Godiva’s 4th leg runner set off shortly before the green vest of Kenilworth, and Simkiss was soon reeling him in despite making an effort to not push too hard early on… Simkiss had passed one athlete already by the random wooded loop before the humongous hill, which is where he drew level with, and worked gradually past the Godiva athlete. Nearing the top of the climb, a fellow thunder thighed runner came storming past in a yellow vest of Hercules Wimbledon putting Simkiss a little to shame.
The right hand turn at the top of the hill saw runners hit a wall of wind, which soon died down (so cannot be used as an excuse) – Simkiss ran slightly within himself to the turnaround point, keen reach the descent later in the leg able to hold good form and make up some ground whilst chasing the Hercules Wimbledon runner all the way with the elastic stretched to a peak of 30m. Picking runners off one by one, Simkiss felt he was moving well and running strong.
The elastic recoiled on the approach to Keepers Pool and Simkiss reeled in Hercules, passing with conviction – proving himself as the alpha of the Thunder Thigh Clan, and leaving a clear road ahead to the finish.
No splits for Simkiss, who wrongly assumed that running without a Garmin would bring about a better performance – but a time of 19:16. Had it not been for McCarthy’s 19:00, Siggers’ 19:05, or his own 19:10 performance at the Midlands – he would’ve considered this a great run, having caught and passed 9 runners over the course of the leg. On reflection the performance was disastrous and re-inforces McCarthy’s self proclaimed status as the MCKEP No1 – Only illness has prevented an endless raft of gloating over the remainder of the weekend.
The team effort was completed as featherweight Paul Andrew was rumoured to have strategically chosen a large vest to make the most of the swirling winds and sail his way round to a circa 20sec improvement over his Midlands time. Friend of the project Stu Hopkins ran a lifetime best on the course to bring the Kenilworth team home in a club record* of 43rd position and a time of 1:56:02.
*records assumed, since it was by far the strongest team the club has fielded at a road relay, and we simply do not have the time to check.
Back at MCKEP HQ for the post race debrief, McCarthy rehydrated with Lemsip Max Strength and eagerly awaiting his warm bubble bath whilst the remainder of the team attended to another of Simkiss’ manic depressive states. Psychoanalysts believe Simkiss got overexcited at the prospect of overtaking other athletes, and mistook this sensation for that of actually running quickly. Meanwhile the medical team note a sore spot appearing at the back of the knee is likely nothing, but it’s been a while since Sicknote has been ‘injured’, so is understandably a major concern for him and the panic stations are fully manned.